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6AAEC026 Critically Queer

Credit value: 15
Module convenor: Professor Mark Turner
Assessment: Seminar participation, via KEATS discussion board (15%), Final Exam (85%)
Study Abroad semester 1 only students: Seminar participation, via KEATS discussion board (15%), Final Essay (85%)
Teaching pattern: Two hour seminar weekly
Pre-requisites: None

Module description:

Queer Theory emerged in the 1990s as one of the most vital areas of intellectual inquiry in the humanities, and this module offers students the opportunity to study this area of critical thought in depth. ‘Critically Queer’ is organised in order to provide a broad overview of this diverse critical discourse over the past generation, while also paying close attention to some of the most pressing debates currently animating the field.  Ideas and problems we'll explore include identities, sexualities, temporalities, homophobia, activism, deviance, performance and transgression.

‘Critically Queer’ is structured around the work of a number of key critics, including Judith Butler, David Eng, Michel Foucault, Judith Halberstam, Paul Preciado, and Michael Warner. These critics will be read in conjunction with a range of literary, historical and visual materials, including novels, journals, historical documents, performances, online media, film, photography and painting. You will be encouraged to explore supplementary critical and other material, as your own particular queer interests lead you.

Educational Aims:

Critically Queer will explore some of the most significant aspects of queer theory in the humanities over the past decade. The course will place a special emphasis on queer approaches to literature, history and culture. The course builds on aspects of critical theory developed in previous years of the degree programme, by allowing students to engage in detailed study of a particular theoretical approach.

Aims include:

  • providing a thorough grounding and understanding of some of the key topics in Queer Theory
  • discuss the ways the links between gender/sexuality and politics are imagined and theorized in contemporary thinking
  • develop critical and theoretical thinking in a focused manner
  • consider the ways gender/sexuality intersect with other cultural determinants, including race/ethnicity and class in literature and theory
  • explore a range of 'queer' writing and visual culture, including novels, memoirs, and film

Learning Outcomes:

  • A firm knowledge of the most significant areas of inquiry in queer theory.
  • A critical understanding of the emergence of queer theory in the 1990s, and the contribution of queer theory to recent literary, historical and cultural studies.
  • A critical understanding of the relationship between queer theory and other critical theories, such as gender studies, postcolonial theory and psychoanalytic criticism. An ability to understand and write about literary, historical and cultural texts within an interdisciplinary framework.

Core Reading:

Much of the weekly required reading for the course will be on KEATS, so that is an important resource for you.

Key reading will include: Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006); Derek Jarman, At Your Own Risk: A Saint’s Testament (1993); Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982).


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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