English | Literature & Society
L779 | 26274 | Herring

L779  26274  HERRING (#5)
Literature & Society

12:20p – 3:20p W


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.