Vic410H1F/s literary Studies Seminar Lesk W11-1 vc304 Theoretical Studies: Culture, Consumerism, and Desire

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VIC410H1F/S Literary Studies Seminar Lesk W11-1 VC304

Theoretical Studies: Culture, Consumerism, and Desire

Simon During writes that an engaged cultural studies “aims to produce knowledge from perspectives lost to and in dominant public culture, and to listen to far-off or marginalized voices.” Taking its cue from cultural studies’ imperative to be an intervention rather than simply an observation, this course seeks to represent a diversity of approaches in queer theory and cultural studies. This diversity enables nuanced critical engagements with cultural production in its aesthetic, ideological, and political dimensions. We will explore the ways in which gay, lesbian, and queer subjectivities are represented in literature, film, and the media, as well as the ways in which sexual identity is inextricably bound up with other axes of identity: race, ethnicity, age, nationality, gender, and so on. Particular attention will be paid to the intersection of the queer, the individual, and hyper-consumerism. Students will develop an understanding of queer cultural studies' major concerns and of the kinds of theoretical approaches it offers for cultural analysis.

Our objectives will thus include:

  • knowledge of and experience in using the analytical tools developed in queer theory and cultural studies

  • examining the signification of specific representations of queers

  • using a combination of close reading, analysis, class discussion, and original thought to produce an insightful, organized, and pleasurably readable essay that contributes significantly to the discussion of the issues in question

In this course, we will read a number of individual essays. This will ensure that our readings are very current and that students acquire a good understanding of the issues that a few important writers have explored. The network of their notes and references will lead you out into the web of scholarship in the field, and I will also situate them for you in larger contexts.

NOTE: This strictly academic course on gender and sexuality may entail graphic, explicit, and unedited scholarly readings and objective discussion about research findings related to the many forms in which gender and sexuality are expressed. Four-letter words may be involved. Films of a sexual nature may be shown. Neither gender nor sexuality is a value free topic. For some people, such materials may elicit powerful negative feelings. Students who think their religious, moral, or psychological sensibilities will be offended are strongly advised NOT to take this course.

Course Format

Seminar/lecture/discussion, with Blackboard (Bb) supplements.

Required Texts:

See the week-by-week calendar, below. All essays are on Bb, and are on reserve at the Pratt Library. The Debord selections (TBA) can be found on-line, or you can purchase the book. It looks like this There are a number of places where you can purchase it, and it is not expensive (around $13).

Marking Scheme (see documents posted on Bb for content)

Seminar 30

Essay 50

Participation 20

Office Hours / Email / Bb

I am always happy to meet with students (at my office or a suitable public place nearby) or answer questions via email. You can expect to receive a response to email messages within 24 hours (except on weekends). I will not answer emails for which the answer might be found by having attended the class, and/or by referring to Bb. Questions that apply to class lectures should be asked in class, since it is most often the case that if you are thinking it, someone else is as well. Class material (such as lectures) will not necessarily be posted on Bb; if it is not on Bb, and if I do not state in class that I will post it on Bb, then rest assured it will not be posted.

Getting Essay Help, and Accessibility Services

Please consult . Every college has a free writing lab; these labs are excellent resources. Regarding AS: Please see the AS office in the Robarts library if you have certain accessibility needs. I fully support the aims and goals of AS. I adhere to the guidelines outlined by the department. See There is also an assessment rubric on Bb.

The required readings are those noted in bold; you should, however, read the supplements.
Week Texts
Sep 9 Introduction
1 Some history
Sep 16 Rubin, “Thinking Sex” (L&G Studies Reader)
Sep 23 D’Emilio, “Capitalism and Gay Identity” (L&G Studies Reader)

Clark, “Commodity Lesbianism” (L&G Studies Reader)

2 Queer statements
Sep 30 Sedgwick, “Axiomatic” (Cultural Studies)

Butler, from Bodies That Matter

Oct 7 Warner, “Introduction” (Fear of a Queer Planet)


Cooper, “Queercore” (The Material Queer)
3 Critiques of queer
Oct 14 Jeffreys, from Unpacking Queer Politics

Field, “from Over the Rainbow” (The Material Queer)
Oct 21 Namaste, from Invisible Lives
Oct 28 Cornwall, “Queer Political Economy” (Homo Economics)

Jackson, “Capitalism and Global Queering” (GLQ)

4 Consumerism and The Spectacle
Nov 4 Debord, selections from Society of the Spectacle
Nov 11 [wacky Wednesday]
Nov 18 Bordieu, “Introduction to Distinction (Consumer Society Reader)


Featherstone, “Lifestyle…” (Consumer Society Reader)

Nov 25 Mort, “The Politics of Consumption” (Consumer Society Reader)


Baudrillard, “A New Language?” (Consumer Society Reader)
5 Applying the theory
Dec 2 Maynard, “‘Without Working?...’” (Journal of Urban History)

Cvetkovich, “Fierce Pussies…” (Feminist Consequences)

Harper, from Private Affairs

Peñaloza, “We’re Here…” (from Queer Economics)

Chow, “Gender and Representation” (Feminist Consequences)
Dec 7 Essay due, JHB610, by 5pm
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