WOMENSTD 313 - Special Topics in Gender and the Humanities
Section: 010 How To Be Gay
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Women's Studies (WOMENSTD)
Department: LSA Women's Studies
Credits:
3
Requirements & Distribution:
HU
Waitlist Capacity:
99
Repeatability:
May be elected twice for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Just because you happen to be a gay man doesn’t mean that you don’t have to learn how to become one.

Gay men do some of that learning on their own, but often we learn how to be gay from others, either because we look to them for instruction or because they simply tell us what they think we need to know, whether we ask for their advice or not. This course examines the specific role that the acquisition of cultural knowledge plays in learning how to be gay. It interrogates the curious notion that male homosexuality is not just a sexual orientation or behavior but also a cultural practice.

Many people nowadays, both gay and straight, seem to believe that what makes gay men different from everyone else is something that goes well beyond matters of sexual preference. Male homosexuality, on this view, is not just a sexuality; it is also a unique sensibility, featuring a set of distinctive tastes in books, music, movies, art, fashion, food, style, and, ultimately, a particular, non-standard way of relating to mainstream culture. Why?

Do cultural forms have a sexuality? Is there a connection between sexuality and culture? Or are all these notions just a bunch of stereotypes, an expression of sexual racism? What is meant when people talk as if there were a right way to be gay, as if being sexually attracted to persons of the same sex were not enough to do the trick, as if there were certain cultural items a gay man needed to know in order to be truly gay?

What do we learn about gay male identity by asking not who gay men are but what it is that gay men do or like? What can an approach to gay identity that emphasizes cultural rather than sexual practices tell us about the sentimental, affective, or subjective dimensions of gay identity, including gay sexuality, that an exclusive focus on gay sexuality cannot? And how does such an approach alter our very understanding of what a social identity is and how other minority identities are formed?

At the core of gay experience there is not only identification but disidentification. Almost as soon as I learn how to be gay, or perhaps even before, I also learn how not to be gay. I say to myself, “Well, I may be gay, but at least I’m not like that!” Rather than attempting to promote one version of gay identity at the expense of others, this course will investigate the stakes in gay identifications and disidentifications, seeking ultimately to create the basis for a wider acceptance of the plurality of ways in which people learn how to be gay.

Class Format:

Enrollment in the course requires attending two 80-minute class meetings on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and one three-hour class meeting on Thursday evenings

WOMENSTD 313 - Special Topics in Gender and the Humanities
Schedule Listing
002 (SEM)
P
30573
Open
9
3WS MAJ + G&H MAJ & MIN
-
W 1:30PM - 4:00PM
004 (SEM)
P
31257
Open
0
 
-
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
005 (SEM)
P
31472
Open
5
 
-
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
006 (SEM)
P
32034
Closed
0
 
-
M 10:00AM - 11:30AM
W 10:00AM - 11:30AM
007 (SEM)
P
33794
Closed
0
 
1
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
010 (LEC)
P
31256
Open
14
 
-
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM
011 (LAB)
 
32189
Open
14
 
-
Th 6:00PM - 9:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.


ISBN: 0226577600
Mothercamp : female impersonators in America, Author: Esther Newton, Publisher: Univ. of Chicago Press Paperback 1972
Required
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9780674283992
How to be gay, Author: David M. Halperin., Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2012
Required
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 0674003888
Place for us : essay on the Broadway musical, Author: D.A. Miller., Publisher: Harvard University Press 1998
Required
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9781852421236
Who was that man? : a present for Mr Oscar Wilde, Author: Neil Bartlett., Publisher: Serpent's Tail 1. publ. 1988
Required
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9780415310277
Heavenly bodies : film stars and society, Author: Richard Dyer., Publisher: Routledge 2nd ed. 2004
Required
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9781559360869
Gypsy : a musical : suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, Author: book by Arthur Laurents ; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim ; music bu Jule Styne., Publisher: Theatre Communications Group 1st TCG ed 1994
Optional
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9780199538911
Billy Budd, sailor and selected tales, Author: Melville, Herman, 1819-1891., Publisher: Oxford University Press 2009
Required
Other Textbook Editions OK.
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