Queer Theory: A History
Queer Theory emerged in the United States, in tandem with Queer Nation, at the beginning of the 1990s as the intellectual framework for a new round in ongoing contests over understandings of sexuality and gender in Western culture. “Queer” was presented as a radical break with homosexual, as well as heterosexual, pasts. Queer theorists and activists hoped to reconstruct lesbian and gay politics, intellectual life, and culture; renegotiate differences of gender, race, and class among lesbians and gay men; and establish new ways of thinking about sexuality, new understandings of sexual dissidence, and new relations among sexual dissidents. Nevertheless, Queer Theory had complex sources in the intellectual and political work that had gone before. And it has had, predictably, unpredictable effects on current intellectual and political projects. This class will make the history of Queer Theory the basis for an intensive study of contemporary intellectual and political work on sexuality and gender. We will also be addressing the fundamental questions raised by the career of Queer Theory, about the relations between political movements and intellectual movements, the politics of intellectual life, and the politics of the academy in the United States, in particular, in this new millenium. For students with a background in women’s, gender, or LGBT studies.