Princeton Course Will Teach Students to ‘Read Queerly’

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stack of books on the dark wood background. toning. selective focus on the middle book

By Matthew Penza

Princeton University is offering a new course this fall that will teach students about the “theory, narrative, and aesthetics” of “queer literatures.”

According to the official course description posted on the school’s website, students will “both read from various trajectories of queer literature and engage what it means to read queerly” as part of the “Queer Literatures: Theory, Narrative, and Aesthetics” course.

“We will consider the historical etymology of the term queer and think through its affiliate terms and acronyms: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans,” the description continues. “We will investigate how discourses of power and institutions of normativity have come up against queer bodies, narratives, and politic—and how such encounters are historically situated.”

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Princeton goes on to explain that the throughout the course, students will be urged to “pay close attention to the ways in which desire, gender, and sexuality are queerly told.”

The upcoming Princeton class is cross-listed in the Department of English, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Program in American Studies, and will feature readings by several authors and poets, including Eli Claire, Michel Foucault, James Baldwin, and others.

Claire’s Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation, an anthology on “disability politics,” is described as an “intersectional framework for understanding how we actually live with the daily hydraulics of oppression, power, and resistance,” as well as an “exploration of environmental destruction and capitalism, sexuality and institutional violence, [and] gender and the body politic” that calls for “social justice movements that are truly accessible to everyone.”

Similarly, IRL by Tommy Pico is a novel that follows a protagonist who is “unsure of which obsessions, attractions, and impulses are essentially his, and which are the result of Christian conversion, hetero-patriarchal/colonialist white supremacy, homophobia, Bacardi, gummy candy, and not getting laid.”

According to the description of the book, IRL asks “what happens to a modern, queer indigenous person a few generations after his ancestors were alienated from their language, their religion, and their history?”

Mean, the memoir of “queer spoken-word performer, visual artist, writer,” and schoolteacher Myriam Gurba, will give students an opportunity to learn about the author’s experience growing up “as a queer, mixed-race Chicana.”

Through the lens of “radical formal fluidity,” Gurba “takes on sexual violence, small towns, and race” in a “confident, intoxicating, brassy book that takes the cost of sexual assault, racism, misogyny, and homophobia deadly seriously.”

“Being mean to boys is fun and a second-wave feminist duty,” Gurba declares in an excerpt included in the book’s description. “Being rude to men who deserve it is a holy mission.”

The reading list also includes Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, a novel about a “young American expatriate” in Paris who is coming to terms with his homosexuality, and Foucault’s sociological work The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction, with chapters focusing on “The Repressive Hypothesis,” “The Perverse Implantation,” “The Deployment of Sexuality,” and more.

Professor Christina León, who is slated to teach the course, did not respond to Campus Reform‘s request for comment.

Follow the author of this article on Facebook: Matthew Penza and Twitter: @mpenza19

First published at Campus Reform

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