Honors | Gender, Sexuality and the Media (CMCL)
C203 | 26489 | Mary Gray

PLEASE NOTE: To receive honors credit for this course, students must
enroll in HON-BK 299, class number 27075. This is a block enrollment
course consisting of CMCL-C 203 (3-credit lecture) and HON-H 299 (1-
credit discussion section). Here are the meeting times for HON-BK

CMCL-C 203: MW 9:30-10:45am
HON-H 299: W 11:15am-12:05pm

This course will introduce students to the history of “queer”
representations of sexuality and gender as they are entwined and
encoded in popular cinema in the United States. We will examine how
constructs of queer behavior and body type are later transformed
into modern notions of naturalized identity. We will also
interrogate commonly held and frequently unquestioned assumptions
about race, class, nationality, and ability that are associated with
queer representations. Students will carefully study the traces of
gender and sexual norms as they have been constructed in the arch of
mainstream U.S. cinema from the turn of the 20th Century to the
present. Using the lens of critical media and cultural studies
approaches, students will learn to read select examples from this
history towards understanding the broader political economies and
cultural contexts that shaped contemporary understandings of
sexuality and gender. Students will also learn to analyze how past
political and economic inequalities in the culture industries might
structure our current sense of what it means to be a sexual and
gendered person, especially what it means to be “normal”
and/or “queer.”
•	Because this is a 200-level course with an honor’s
discussion section, it will provide an introduction and survey of
current scholarship in the field as well as a focused interrogation
of specific debates across specific disciplines engaging media
studies, queer theory, and studies of representation more broadly.
•	Course will be a mixture of lecture, small group discussion,
and required, weekly film screenings; attendance will be taken daily
and count towards final course evaluation. The honor’s discussion
section will use a seminar format. Students will be responsible for
presenting arguments from the readings and taking turns in leading
their peers in discussion.
•	Authors studied will include Richard Barrios, Harry
Benshoff, Alexander Doty, Richard Dyer, Sean Griffin, Lisa
Henderson, Judith Halberstam, B. Ruby Rich, and Vito Russo.
•	Continues themes and ideas presented in C205: Introduction
to Communication and Culture.
•	Designed to improve students’ abilities to critically
examine the representation of sexuality and gender in the media and
its relationship to social discourses addressing these topics—
particularly as they relate to the notions of “queerness” in late
•	Assignments will include written reading responses; a group
presentation and associated paper approximately 2-4 pages in length;
a short and long essay format midterm; and a comprehensive take-home
final. In addition to the assignments listed above, the honor’s
discussion section will also be responsible for: 1 additional
required book, short (1 page) responses to and questions about the
readings due each discussion section meeting; 2 additional 3-5 page
papers and associated presentations, and a final group project
programming and publicly presenting a film festival addressing the
course themes and topics.