All of our assignments will be posted to the class website at http://985queer.queergeektheory.org, where the syllabus is open and public but student work will be readable only by participants in the class. By the end of the seminar, we will have crafted a map of our readings and ideas for the course of the semester. We can decide together whether we want to make our writings into a public archive or keep them restricted to the class.
Four times in the seminar, you will sign up to write a 250-400 word (1 page) summary of one of the texts we read in advance of class. These summaries should highlight the key points and interventions of the text as you understand them: what is the writer responding do? What do they hope to achieve? Your goal should be to understand the writer’s project rather than to criticize it, and in so doing to aid your classmates in understanding the works we are reading together. If you find the reading difficult to understand, you should use the summary as a place to sketch out what you think is going on, including the specific difficulties you are having. If your understanding of the text changes after class discussion, you can go back to your summary and edit it accordingly. The goal of the summary assignment is for us to finish the semester with an archive of each text’s key points that we can all return to –– a useful resource for comprehensive exams and dissertation writing!
Rather than attempt to develop a full length final project during the short time we have available, you will write three shorter pieces (1000-1500 words, or 4-6 pages), one of which will be due every Monday. Think of these as experimental sites in which to test out new ideas that may not be fully elaborated. Each synthesis should bring together ideas from two or more of the theoretical readings from class and to reflect on them in the context of a text or example (literature, film, popular culture, art, performance, personal experience) that may be drawn from within or outside the class. Your syntheses will be shared online with the class and may include images, sound, and video as well as text. The short essays published online in Social Text: Periscope or the Bully Bloggers site run by several of the theorists we’ll be reading might serve as useful models.
Although you will not be writing a full seminar paper for this class, I still want you to develop an original argument –– in the form of a 15-20-minute talk. One of your synthesis papers (you choose which) will serve as abstract and draft; you’ll expand and revise this into a talk to be presented with visuals in our last class session(s). Given the time constraints of the class, you should expect your talk to be exploratory and conversational, a chance to try out some new ideas; ideally, you’ll use this opportunity to develop new work you’ll present at a conference and perhaps publish later.
Discussion questions / class notes
For every class, you should prepare two or three questions or examples to bring to discussion. These may be passages that you found difficult to understand, queries about how to use the material in your teaching or writing, or links, images, or videos that the readings brought to mind. We will use a shared Google Document to store these discussion questions and links, so that we collaboratively develop an agenda for discussion before each class begins. Everyone may add to this at any time, and we will also be able to use it to make notes of what has been said during and after class.
In the weeks when you are assigned to summarize readings, I’ll expect you to take a leading role in class discussion and to bring questions and select passages that we will be able to engage collectively.