English 35301

Spring 2018





LGBT Critical Perspectives


Professor Kevin Floyd



In this course’s title, “Critical Perspectives” is every bit as important as “LGBT”: the intended audience for this course is not exclusively those who identify with one of these four letters.  This course will question a number of commonly held notions about gender and sexuality: the notion, for example, that gender and sexuality are natural expressions of an inner self.  “Femininity,” “masculinity,” “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” “transgender” – and don’t forget “straight” – these are nothing if not ideas, and like all ideas, they have histories.  This course will emphasize the ways in which the meanings of these terms have evolved over time.  It will introduce students to the ways gender and sexuality have been defined and redefined in the West in the course of, roughly, the last century and a half.  We will also address the different ways gender and sexuality are understood and experienced among different racial and ethnic populations.  We will spend some time thinking about how these terms operate internationally.  And we will develop a “critical perspective” on the idea that sexuality is merely a private, personal matter.  We will explore ways in which sexuality is resolutely social even while it pretends not to be.


This course will be strongly interdisciplinary.  Most of the readings will be available in a course packet, and will likely include essays by influential thinkers about sexuality including Michel Foucault, Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Joseph Massad, Sandy Stone, and Carroll Smith-Rosenberg.  In addition, we will read all or some of these required texts (the first of which is a work of speculative fiction):


Samuel R. Delany, Trouble on Triton (ISBN 978-0819562982)

Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality      (ISBN 978-0465077144)

Dean Spade, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law         (ISBN 978-0822360407)


Grades will be based on an essay midterm, an essay final, one research paper, frequent informal writing in class, and participation in discussion.





Floyd                                                   TR 2:15-3:30                                       ENG 35301