“Queerness can never define an identity; it can only ever disturb one”
–Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (2004: 17).
Originally a term for the odd, strange, or peculiar; later, a homophobia slur, the word queer today signals defiant resistance to heterosexism and oppression based on social norms of gender and sexuality. As an interdiscipline, Queer Studies focuses not only on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans) lives and communities, but more broadly on the social production and regulation of sexuality and gender. It seeks intersectional, social-constructionist, and transnational understandings of sexuality, social norms, and power. In the words of Michael Warner, Queer Studies “rejects a minoritizing logic of toleration or simple political interest-representation in favor of a more thorough resistance to regimes of the normal… For both academics and activists, ‘queer’ gets a critical edge by defining itself against the normal rather than the heterosexual, and normal includes normal business in the academy” (Fear of a Queer Planet, 1993: xxvi). Decentering static or stable conceptions of sexual identity, Queer Studies asks: How does (hetero)normativity structure and shape diverse social and political institutions? What are the intersections of sexual marginality and other axes of difference (gender, race, ethnicity, disability, class, nation)? How do organizations of sexuality distribute power and privilege both within and outside the United States?
Watch Margot Weiss’s In Theory lecture, “Introducing Queer Studies” video
Queer Studies at Wesleyan
The faculty position in Queer Studies at Wesleyan was the result of student activism in the early 2000s: students in Wesleyan’s Queer Alliance lobbied the administration, secured faculty support, and staged a kiss-in in front of the admissions office (news coverage). Today, students can concentrate in Queer Studies as part of the American Studies major, and Wesleyan faculty with expertise in Anthropology, English, Feminist and Gender Studies, and History, among other fields, offer an array of courses in Queer Studies. Particular strengths at Wesleyan include Queer Theory, LGBT communities and cultures, theories of difference and embodiment (including disability and trans studies), and transnational sexualities.
Regularly-offered courses include:
AMST118: Social Norms and Social Power (Weiss)
AMST201: Junior Colloquium: Critical Queer Studies (Weiss, Grappo)
AMST248: Popular Culture and Social Justice (Glick)
AMST265: Introduction to Trans Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Weiss)
AMST266: Future Visions: Temporality and the Politics of Change (Weiss & Tang)
AMST293: Politics of the Body (Weiss)
AMST344: Transgender Theory (Grappo)
ANTH203: Sex, Money and Power (Weiss)
ANTH228: Transnational Sexualities (Weiss)
ANTH398: Queer/Anthropology: Ethnographic Approaches to Queer Studies (Weiss)
ENGL105: Body and Text (Martin)
ENGL378: Queer Times: The Poetics and Politics of Temporality (Cohen)
FGSS210: Ethics of Embodiment (Crosby)
SOC351: The Social Body (Goldberg)
Please review WesMaps for current course listings.
Recent Queer Studies Events (2013-2014)
Sins Invalid screening Wednesday, December 4 at 7:30 in Downey House 113
Samuel Delany reading at the Shasha Seminar, April 5 at 4pm in Beckham Hall
Dynasty Handbag in "Transparent Trap" performance, April 8 at 7pm in World Music Hall
Each spring, the GLASS (Gay, Lesbian, and Sexuality Studies) Prize committee awards the GLASS Prize to the undergraduate student with the best research and writing on a subject in queer, trans, LGBT, or sexuality studies.
Recent winners include:
S. Lamming, “Queer Horizons: An/Other World without Walls” (2013)
Ague Ortega, “(Un)comfortable Intersections: A Postcolonial Critique Towards a Queerness from the South” (2013)
Abby Spector, “Coming Clean: A Critique of State-Mandated Barrier Protection in the Adult Entertainment Industry” (2012)
Nora Hansel, “Rethinking Relations: Queer Intimacies and Practices of Care” (2011)
Yannick LeJacques, “Love Becomes Possible: The Transformation of Gay Male Sexuality and Identity in the AIDS Crisis” (2011)