"The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it" – Oscar Wilde, The Critic As Artist (1890).
In this introduction to the critical study of gender and sexuality, we will examine the ways in which gender and sexuality have been fundamentally reorganized since the 18th century. Focusing on the geographical region of the United States, we will use history, literature, and theory to deepen our understanding of these transformations. In particular, we will examine the emergence and transformation of various sexual and gender subcultures and their vibrant forms of cultural expression. By focusing our attention on the contested and changing meanings of gender and sexuality, this course aims to strengthen your skills of critical analysis.
Amongst the ideas and themes we explore, which will include an attention to the state, religion, reform, region, class, and race, we will place special emphasis on the playfulness of cultural expression and the politics of play. We will explore how entertainment, play, spectacle, camp, humor, and the carnevalesque have been used to create and disturb the intelligibility of gender and sexuality.
In addition to seminars, we will hold weekly workshops that examine the ways community and academic historians document and preserve the often hidden history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. You will gain expertise in collecting and archiving historical material, which may be applied to projects in the winter quarter.
Our work will also build bridges—both conceptual and material—between historical study of gender and sexuality and contemporary communities beyond our campus. This work in the public humanities will include performances by invited guests, a trip to the Lesbian and Gay Film Fest in Seattle, and winter quarter internships or research projects.
We also expect to have fun doing all this work!
A note on inclusiveness:
Enrollment is open to any Evergreen student with sophomore through senior standing. It is likely that many students will have a sexual or gender identity, but this is not a prerequisite for enrollment. If you have such an identity, switching it out at any time is also perfectly fine.