ENGL 338                                                                  Gay and Lesbian Literary Studies

Professor Ross Leasure                                                Office HH 378

Office Hours: MWF 1-1:50; TR 2-3:15                        Phone: 410-677-5009

Office: HH 378                                                 trleasure@salisbury.edu


Course description:  In addition to studying a representative selection of literature written by gay and lesbian authors of the past and present in their respective cultural and historical contexts, this course will also include an introduction to the analytical approach to literature known as queer theory, and take into consideration other literary works objectively identifiable as “queer” even though they might not otherwise fit the category of explicitly gay or lesbian writings.  Primary and secondary readings will also represent works by and about transgendered and/or interesexed authors.  In general, this course breaks down into three primary units: the theoretical, the application of the theoretical (i.e., the practical), and canonical coverage.  Films related to specific unit topics will augment readings, lectures, and discussions.


Required Texts:            Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Chloe Plus Olivia (ed. Faderman)

Chin, Harmless Medicine

Churchill, Cloud 9

LeRoy, Sarah

Mann, Death in Venice

Marlowe, Edward II

Melville, Billy Budd

Plato, Symposium

Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

Sherman, Bent

Wilchins, QueerTheory/Gender Theory

Wilde, De Profundis

Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit


Optional Texts available:           Brecht, Edward II

                                                Butler, Gender Trouble

Crane and Naifeh, How Loathsome

Foucault, History of Sexuality

Jagose, Queer Theory: An Introduction

                                                            Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet


Academic integrity/Plagiarism:  Integrity is an individual’s adherence to a certain code of values; academic integrity, then, implies an individual’s staunch respect for the originality of other people’s work, and a willingness to take responsibility for one’s own learning.  You are expected not to cheat in this class, whether by acting unethically in a testing situation, or by sharing your own work or stealing another’s.  If you do, you are only cheating yourself and your peers.  Plagiarism may involve submitting work that includes the words or even the ideas of another without properly giving credit to the source’s author.  If you are ever in doubt, cite the source using the MLA style guide found in most writer’s handbooks or style manuals.  Any breach of academic integrity will be met at least with a reprimand (that will likely result in my filing an incident report with Student Affairs), and in the most extreme scenario, will earn you a failing grade for the course that will become a permanent part of your academic record.  That “F” will be designated on your transcript as one that is the result of “academic dishonesty,” and it cannot be removed by taking the course over.

            Sampling materials from the Web is plagiarism.  There are a number of on-line resources at my disposal besides “googling” that allow me to identify electronically pilfered phrases.  All formal student writing, for example, will be uploaded to TurnItIn.com, a service to which the university now subscribes and which identifies even short phrases by their sources either on the Internet or from other work previously submitted. If, for any reason, an essay appears to me to be suspicious, I reserve the right to quiz the student (without prior notification) on the content and vocabulary of his/her assignment.  If a piece of student writing proves to be plagiarized, depending upon the severity of the infraction, that assignment will earn a failing grade, the student may summarily fail the course, and/or the reason for the failure will appear on the student’s transcript.  Further information on the university’s Academic Integrity Policy may be found not only in the student handbook, but also in the handbooks for the faculty and the English department.


Portfolios:  Never throw away hard-copy drafts or notes for any writing assignment.  Likewise, do not delete files related to this course from your discs or hard drives.  Maintain an informal record of the process of you compositions.  At any given time, I should be able to query you about the particulars of your writing, and its development over time.


Formatting requirements: All essays or papers should be type-written using a word processing program on computer.  All margins should be 1”, and lines, double-spaced.  Use a common plain 12-point font.  Essay I should range from 5-7 pages and include research materials.  Essay II may be slightly shorter (4-6 pages), and need not include outside reading.  Reaction/Response papers on three films of your choice need only be 2 pages, though you are free to write more.  There is no need for a cover sheet of any kind, and do not submit essays in folders or binders; rather all assignments must be stapled or paper-clipped in the upper left-hand corner.  Each page except the first should be numbered in the upper right-hand corner.  The first page should be identical to the example provided on p. 777 in the Holt Handbook. Do not deviate from the model.  More specific instructions for particular writing assignments will be forthcoming in a timely fashion.  Spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style always count.


Tardiness/Absence:  The examinations, as described above, necessitate your attendance.  It is unlikely a student could explain the context or relevance of a quotation without at least hearing, if not participating in, class discussion or other classroom activities.  Nevertheless, I still consider no more than three absences during the semester to be acceptable.  Extraordinary circumstances surrounding any more than three absences will require extraordinary documentation.  Egregious absence (six class periods) will result in a letter grade reduction; nine absences will result in a grade reduction of two letters; 12, three letters, and so forth.  Repeated tardiness may also negatively affect one’s grade.


Reference resources/Library reserves:  There will be a number of resources available on short term reserve at the circulation desk in Blackwell Library.  I will eventually provide you with a complete list of these books.  You may access them at any time, for any reason.  Required and optional readings not found in your textbooks are available through WebCT in PDF format.  If, at any time, you need to use a dictionary, I strongly advise you to make use of the Oxford English Dictionary available electronically through networked PCs at www.oed.com.  It is an indispensable reference resource.


Grading distribution/scale:                     Essays (I & II)              30%    

                                                            Film papers (3) 30%

Mid-term                      15%

Final Exam                   15%

Participation                 5%

[Quizzes                       5%]


Examinations/Quizzes:  For the most part, each exam will present you with passages from the works you have read, and require you to identify them by title and author; in addition you must provide other pertinent information such as the name of a quotation’s speaker (if, for example, that excerpt derives from a work of fiction), and a commentary upon the context and significance of the quotation.  Mark those passages in the texts on which we focus in lecture or discussion; they will likely be on the exam.  I will only administer quizzes if it becomes apparent to me that students are not keeping up with the reading.


Workload/Late work:  For each “hour” in class, you should anticipate working about three hours outside class, conservatively speaking.  Certain weeks, you will necessarily have to do much more than nine hours per week.  Requests for extensions must be received in writing via e-mail at least 48 hours in advance of the due date; all other such requests will be rejected summarily.  Work submitted after the designated deadline will be penalized.  I will not accept any assignment submitted more than five days after deadline.


Cell phones: No cell phone, or any other electronic communications device, should at any time be visible, let alone heard during class time.  Please disarm your ring tones and alarms before entering the classroom.  Failure to do so may be met with a severe sanction, especially if the infraction occurs during any quiz or the exam.


Films/Theatre Performance:  All students are required to attend a performance of The Merchant of Venice during its run here on campus (Bobbi Biron Theatre) on one of the following dates: 3/3-6; 3/9-13; 3/2 and 3/8.  Prior to a couple of the performances, I will be giving a lecture open to the public; every student should plan to attend one, preferably in conjunction with attending the performance to follow.  All students must produce the  three required reaction/response papers.  Currently, it seems that you will be able to view many of the films as streaming video through WebCT on your personal computers.  In the event that the technology fails, or if it becomes necessary for any other reading, I will provide group film screenings.  Any and all screenings are scheduled for Fulton Hall Auditorium (111), beginning promptly at 8:30 p.m on Wednesday nights.


[¸ indicates a film screening; ** indicates a PDF file available through WebCT]


UNIT ONE: “THINKING QUEERLY”—A Crash-Course in Queer and Gender Theory


Week I             W        1/26     Introduction

F          1/28     Genesis17-19, Leviticus 18-20, Judges 19,

and Cleanness**

                                                [optional: McCall**/ Frantzen**]


Week II           M         1/31     Plato’s Symposium

                        W        2/2       [diagnostic writing assignment]                     ¸ Hedwig

                                                [optional: Herdt**]

                        F          2/4       Wilchins (1-3)


Week III          M         2/7       Wilchins (4-6)

                        W        2/9       Wilchins (7-8, 11)

                        F          2/11    


Week IV          M         2/14     Spargo**

                                                [optional: Foucault**]

                        W        2/16     Churchill’s Cloud 9 (Act I)                               ¸Orlando

                        F          2/18     Cloud 9 (Act II)


Week V           M         2/21     LeRoy’s Sarah

                        W        2/23     [film reaction/response I]

F          2/25     Califia’s “Finishing School” (Chloe)

Fielding, Krafft-Ebing, Freud (Chloe)


UNIT TWO: “QUEERING THE CANON”— Brush Up Your Shakesqueer


Week VI          M         2/28     Merchant of Venice

                        W        3/2       [optional: Mondschein**]         [3/3: lecture/performance]

                        F          3/4       MOV literary criticism**


Week VII         M         3/7       Seward’s Sonnets (in Chloe)

                        W        3/9       [MID-TERM EXAM]                                   ¸Therese

                                                Baudelaire’s “Invitation” [handout]

                        F          3/11     Dickinson’s Letters and Poems (Chloe)

                                                [guest lecturer: Dr. Diana Wagner]



Week VIII       M         3/14     Dickinson cont’d [Wagner]


                        W        3/16     Rosetti’s “Goblin Market” (Chloe)                   

                        F          3/18



Week IX          M         3/28     Melville’s Billy Budd

                        W        3/30                                                                             ¸Christmas

                        F          4/1       Virgil**/ Spenser**/ Barnfield** /

St. John’s “Obscure Night” [handout]




Week X           M         4/4       Marlowe’s Edward II

                        W        4/6                                                                               ¸Edward II

                        F          4/8       Mann’s Death in Venice


Week XI          M         4/11     Wilde’s De Profundis

                                                Douglas’ “Two Loves” and letters [handout]

                        W        4/13     Sherman’s Bent                                               

                        F          4/15     [film reaction/response II]


Week XII         M         4/18     Winterson’s Oranges

                        W        4/20                                                                             ¸Monster     

                        F          4/22     Sappho, “Michael Field” (Chloe)


Week XIII       M         4/25     Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room

                                                [guest lecturer: Dr. Nick Melczarek]

                        W        4/27     [optional: Hall**]                                              ¸Swoon

                        F          4/29     Duncan and Gunn**


Week XIV       M         5/2       [film reaction/response III]

                        W        5/4       Chin’s Harmless Medicine

                                                [guest lecture: Dr. Bryan Horikami]

                        F          5/6       Chin cont’d [Horikami]


Week XV        M         5/9       [ESSAY II]

                        W        5/11     Wrap-up; evaluations




Readings available through WebCT:


Excerpts of Genesis, Leviticus, and Judges (Old Testament)


Excerpt of medieval poem, Cleanness


Excerpts from Virgil’s Eclogues, Spenser’s Shepheardes Calendar, Barnfield’s “Affectionate Shepherd”


Excerpts of poetry by Robert Duncan and Thomas Gunn


DiGangi, Mario.  “Queering the Renaissance Family.” Shakespeare Quarterly 47 (1996): 269-90. [MOV]


Foucault, Michel.  “Sex, Power, and the Politics of Identity.” Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth.  NY: New Press, 1997.


Frantzen, Allen.  “The Disclosure of Sodomy in Cleanness.  PMLA 111 (1996): 451-64.


Hall, Donald.  Reading for Excess: The Queer Texts of Orlando, Giovanni’s Room, and The Color Purple.”  Queer Theories.  Palgrave, 2003.


Herdt, Gilbert.  “Ingestive Rites.” Guardians of the Flutes. NY: McGraw Hill, 1981.


Hyman, Lawrence.  “Antonio in The Merchant of Venice.” PMLA 82 (1967): 649-50. [MOV]


Kleinberg, Seymour.  The Merchant of Venice: The Homosexual as Anti-Semite in Nascent Capitalism.”  Literary Visions of Homosexuality.  Ed. Stuart Kellogg.  NY: Haworth, 1983. [MOV]


McCall, Andrew.  “Homosexuals.” The Medieval Underworld. Barnes & Noble, 1979.


Mondschein, Ken.  “Surpassing the Love of Women: Male Homosexuality in the Pre-Modern World.” Renaissance 9:40 (2004), pp. 42-50.


O’Rourke, James.  “Racism and Homophobia in The Merchant of Venice.”  ELH 70 (2003): 375-97. [MOV]


Patterson, Steve.  “The Bankruptcy of Homoerotic Amity in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.”  Shakespeare Quarterly 50 (1999): 9-32. [MOV]


Sinfield, Alan.  “How to Read The Merchant of Venice without being Heterosexist.”  Shakespeare, Feminism and Gender. Ed. Kate Chedgzy.  Palgrave, 2001. [MOV]


Spargo, Tamsin.  Foucault and Queer Theory.  New York: Totem Books, 1999.