Cultural Studies | Special Topics in Cultural Studies: Regional Sexualities
C701 | 13198 | Herring

Over the last decade or so, forays in sexuality studies have been more
than eager to track the difficult logicistics of identitarianism (the
“who” and the “what” of “why” “we” are) as they overlap with recent
concerns about time and history (the “when”).  Now, however, may be a
ripe moment to focus more on the “where.”  To do so, this seminar asks
a very basic question: what happens to U.S. sexuality studies when it
shifts its ever-dominant NY/LA/SF axis to Lawrence, Kansas, or to
Liberty, Tennessee, or to Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, or to rural West
Virginia, or to the Mississippi Delta, or, spanning beyond
transcontinental boundaries, to the Caribbean island of Antigua?  This
inquiry will guide our investigations as we explore what could be
called the “urban/rural” binary that haunts, guides, and, we will
find, too often misdirects many of the now-commonplace assumptions of
queer studies in American academies.  Over the course of sixteen
weeks, we engage with a mess of disciplines—ethnography, literary
studies, cultural studies, social history, urban studies, rural
studies, geography, post-colonial studies, African-American studies,
disability studies, Latino/a Studies, and, most emphatically, studies
of visual culture—as we chart the critical terrain that sexuality
studies both enables and elides.  Along the way, we collate a series
of dossiers on critical keywords such as “metro-normativity,” “queer
regionalism,” and “sexual citizenship” that will then enable us to
explore a series of case studies on rural, regional, and anti-urban
activities that, when taken together, try to think beyond the
compulsions of the metropolis.  In doing so, we’ll jumpstart
discussions over a concept that receives scant attention from
U.S.-based queer theory and that (these days at least) is so outmoded
as to seem de rigueur: sex outside the city.

Reading include works by Susan Sontag, Pierre Bourdieu, Eve Kosofsky
Sedgiwck, Toni Morrison, Michael Warner, Lauren Berlant, Elizabeth
Freeman, Judith Halberstam, Elizabeth Povinelli, Jamaica Kincaid, E.
Patrick Johnson, Siobhan Somerville, John Howard, Eithne Luibhied,
Alison Bechdel, Lionel Cantu, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Gayatri
Gopinath, Mary Louise Pratt, and many others.  If you register for
this course, please purchase a used copy of Edmund White’s States of
Desire: Travels in Gay America to discuss during our first meeting.

Assignments will include one in-class presentation and one
article-length (7000-9000 words) essay.