RCCORE 334 - Special Topics
Section: 001 Out of the Past: 20th Century LGBT History
Term: FA 2017
Subject: RC Core Courses (RCCORE)
Department: LSA Residential College
May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

College students today have grown up in a “gay-aware” if not “gay-friendly” world. LGBT characters are everywhere on TV and in the movies. The debate over gay marriage fills the news with discussions of equal rights, states’ rights, and recently-lifted federal bans. In Michigan and other states, benefits for same-sex domestic partners are publicly championed by some cities and universities but regularly attacked in the legislatures.

How did LGBT people move from the mostly-anonymous fringe to front-and-center of today’s popular culture and political debates? This course explores 20th-century LGBT history in the United States through documentaries and archival research.

We will be watching and discussing several documentary films:

  • Out of the Past (1998, 70 minutes) traces over 100 years of gay rights struggles, set against the backdrop of a 17-year-old student who forms a Gay Straight Alliance program at her high school.
  • Before Stonewall (1984, 87 minutes) traces the decades leading up to the Stonewall Riots of June 1969 through archival film clips and commentary by leading LGBT community members.
  • Stonewall Uprising (2011, 90 minutes) tells the story of the police-raid-turned-riot that sparked the start of the widespread, public gay right movement in the United States.
  • The Times of Harvey Milk (1984, 88 minutes) tells the story of San Francisco’s first openly-gay city supervisor who was assassinated in November 1978.
  • We Were Here (2011, 90 minutes) traces the arrival and initial impact of AIDS in San Francisco.
  • The Celluloid Closet (1995, 101 minutes), based on Vito Russo’s book of the same name, explores the portrayal of LGBT characters in Hollywood films from the silent era through the early 1990s.
  • After Stonewall (1999, 88 minutes), a sequel to the 1984 Before Stonewall film, traces the first 30 years after the Stonewall Riots.

In addition, students will have the opportunity to explore U-M’s Bentley Historical Library’s large Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Collections. There is no assigned reading for this course.

This course is open to all U-M students. For more information, contact the instructor David Burkam (dtburkam@umich.edu).

Course Requirements:

Students will keep a journal of personal responses to the films and write one term-paper (8-10 pages) based on their work at the Bentley Historical Library.

RCCORE 334 - Special Topics
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
W 3:00PM - 5:00PM
004 (SEM)
W 10:00AM - 1:00PM
Note: Class meets in Detroit
005 (SEM)
Tu 10:00AM - 1:00PM
Note: Class meets in Detroit
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