Queer Theory


University of Pittsburgh

Fall 2011

Course website + syllabus

“‘Queer’ designates not just a libidinal inclination, not just an erotic life, though it is thankfully that…queerness is a methodology, one that gives us a way to articulate a queer ethics and a queer politics, where each of these insists on the generative capacities of claiming desire, and a fundamental openness to difference, located in the world and also in ourselves” —Gayle Salamon, “Justification & Queer Method

“Archives are made up of paper and other things that  “archives are made up of paper and other things that matter…archives are ‘homes,’ ways of gathering material, around which worlds gather…they, too, are orientation devices, which in gathering things around are not neutral but directive” —Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology

What might it mean to theorize and archive queerness? How has recent work in queer and transgender studies expanded classic theories of sexuality, pleasure, desire, and politics, and how might we put these interventions to work? This course offers a sustained interrogation of some of the paradigms, concepts, and methodologies that queer and transgender studies have taken up in the last several years. We will begin by examining the invention of sexuality as a category of identification and analysis in the context of western modernity, and move through the ways that various disciplines and interdisciplinary fields have theorized and produced sexuality through discourses of race, gender, dis/ability, and class. The course will interrogate constructions of sexuality in specific historical and cultural contexts and from a variety of disciplinary locations. The course foregrounds a transnational queer of color approach to queer studies, insisting that sex and sexuality cannot be understood alone but rather are lived and therefore must be analyzed as part of a larger constellation that includes histories of colonialism, contemporary globalization, transnational mobilities, and capitalist production and consumption. Course topics will include genealogies of sexuality and sexual identity, sexual citizenship and mobility, nationalism and empire, diasporic formations and transnational migration, archival practices and affect, and sexual citizenship in the context of war.