“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 sexual and sexualized embodiments, desires, identities, communities, and cultures both within the U.S. and beyond. 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 Planet1993: xxvi). Decentering static or stable conceptions of sexual identity, Queer Studies asks: How does sexual 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, indigeneity, nation)? How does the social organization of desire produce forms of oppression and of resistance in varied places and times? 

Watch Margot Weiss’s In Theory lecture, “Introducing Queer Studies” video

Queer Studies at Wesleyan


As a direct result of student activism, Wesleyan made its first faculty hire in Queer Studies in 2002. Students in Wesleyan’s Queer Alliance lobbied the administration, secured faculty support, and staged a kiss-in in front of the admissions office (see the local news coverage). That position, currently held by Margot Weiss (Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology), led to the creation of a standing concentration in Queer Studies as a track within the American Studies major.

Today, Wesleyan faculty with expertise in American Studies; Anthropology; Art History; English; Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies; and Sociology, among other fields, offer an array of courses in Queer Studies. Particular strengths at Wesleyan include queer theory, theories of difference and embodiment (including disability and trans studies), queer of color critique, and transnational sexuality studies. In recognition of the strength and diversity of course offerings in Queer Studies, Wesleyan created a Course Cluster in Queer Studies in the Fall of 2014. 

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)
AMST353: Health, Illness, and Power (Glick)
AMST344: Transgender Theory (Grappo)
AMST351: Queer of Color Critique (Grappo)
ANTH203: Sex, Money and Power (Weiss)
ANTH228: Transnational Sexualities (Weiss)
ANTH398: Queer/Anthropology: Ethnographic Approaches to Queer Studies (Weiss)
ARHA170: Postmodernism and the Long 1980s (Grace)
ENGL308: Stein and Woolf (Cohen)
ENGL378: Queer Times: The Poetics and Politics of Temporality (Cohen)
FGSS200: Sex and Gender in Critical Perspective (Pitts-Taylor)
FGSS209: Feminist Theories (Crosby)
FGSS210: Ethics of Embodiment (Crosby)
FGSS321: BioFeminisms: Science, Matter, Agency (Pitts-Taylor)
SOC293: Pleasure and Power: The Sociology of Sexuality (Kaye)
SOC351: The Social Body (Goldberg)

Please review WesMaps for current course listings.