What is 'queer theory'? What makes a politics 'queer'? What are the origins of queer theory, and of queer activism? How have they developed and what are their futures? What are the relationships ... read more
What is 'queer theory'? What makes a politics 'queer'? What are the origins of queer theory, and of queer activism? How have they developed and what are their futures? What are the relationships between queer theory/politics and feminist theory/politics? What, if anything, distinguishes queer political practices from those of LGBT social movements? What are queer theory's intersections with critical race theory, socialist feminism, Marxism, and post-modern and post-structuralist thought? Queer theory critiques so-called 'heteronormativity', but is there a 'homonormativity' - and what problems might it present? What challenges does 'intersectionality' pose to queer theory? How global is 'gay'? What role has 'homonationalism' played in the United States' pursuit of the 'war on terror'? What are the queer critiques of gay marriage?
These are among the central questions to be examined in this seminar, which explores the intersections and interactions between queer theory and queer politics in America. It is made up of three inter-woven components.
The first explores the emergence of queer theory in the United States out of a body of scholarship preoccupied with the study of sexuality, LGBT identities, as well as feminist theorising. We will read key extracts from what are often considered three foundational texts of queer theory, two of which come from U.S.-based scholars - namely, Judith Butler's Gender Trouble and Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick's Epistemology of the Closet - along with volume 1 of Michel Foucault's seminal, History of Sexuality.
The second component traces the development of queer politics in America out of LGBT social movements, as well as their transformation by the AIDS crisis. We will explore the political practices of radical-, socialist-, lesbian separatist-, and other feminist movements, as we as of gay male social movements both before and after New York City's Stonewall Riot of 1969. The emergence and reception of the House and Ball community, particularly in New York City and from the 1970s onwards, will also be examined, as will the activism and political impact of groups like ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), TAG (the Treatment Action Group) and Queer Nation.
The third and final component explores more recent developments in queer theory and politics in the United States. On the one hand, this includes encounters with other theoretical traditions and the rise of 'intersectional' approaches; and on the other, the questioning of phenomena such as 'homonormativity', the role of what Jasbir Puar has called 'homonationalism' (especially in the wake of September 11, 2001), and the increasingly prominent role demands for 'marriage equality' are playing in US politics today.