ENGLISH 380 AND 580
STUDIES IN FILM
THE ART AND POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION
IN CONTEMPORARY GAY, LESBIAN,
AND QUEER FILM
TR, 2 to 3:50 p.m. (Discussions), and T 7-10 p.m. (Screenings), HHH 321
Fall 2001, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
PROFESSOR BOB NOWLAN
Office: HHH 425, (715) 836-4369
Office Hours: M 4-5 and 9:30-10:30 p.m.; W 4-6 p.m.;
R 4-5 p.m. and 9:30-10:30 p.m.; and By Appointment.
English 380 and 580, Studies in Film: The Art and Politics of Representation in Contemporary Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Film is conceived and organized as a collective critical inquiry into the production and reception of glbtq (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer) film from the watershed moment of the 1969 Stonewall riots to the present. Representation within and by means of film has long been, and continues to be, a central site of oppression, resistance, struggle, affirmation, and transcendence for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people. In this course we will therefore examine the ways in which an exemplary selection of glbtq films reflects and responds to: 1. the lived realities, everyday conditions of existence, and ordinary and extraordinary struggles of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people; 2. the changing place of glbtq subjectivities and modes of social relationality in "the larger society" and "the general culture," including as sites of resistance, opposition, and revolt against dominant forms of subjectivity and dominant modes of social relationality; and 3. the differences, contradictions, tensions, and conflicts within and among various glbtq "communities" and "movements" over what has been, is, and should be the shape and direction of glbtq politics and culture. In sum, we will focus attention throughout this semester upon the art and politics of cinematic representation in relation to issues of glbtq identity and experience; community and culture; sexuality and desire; discrimination and prejudice; violence and abuse; marginality and alterity; struggle and resistance; and liberation and transformation.
The films we will screen in this course will be primarily, although not exclusively, from the United States. The reason why is three-fold. First, it is from the United States that we are engaging in this course, and it is important to come to terms with where we are at as a basis for mapping our place and accounting for our interests, as well as our critical perspectives, within the late capitalist global social totality. Second, the United States is the leading capitalist-imperialist nation in the world today, and, as a result, the impact of what takes place in the United States -- economically, politically, and culturally -- has immense shaping power far beyond the geographic boundaries of this nation alone. Third, it is from within the United States -- and other closely culturally allied nations such as Great Britain, Canada, and Australia -- that the majority of the most widely visible and highly influential developments in contemporary, (post)modern glbtq politics and culture have emerged over the course of the past thirty years, including in film.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century glbtq
politics and culture is increasingly sharply divided among advocates of
three general directions for future praxis: 1. liberal advocates of steady
assimilation and integration into "the general society" and "the culture
at large," accompanied not by any substantial change, but rather only moderate
reform, of this status quo; 2. anarchist advocates of maintaining a playfully
dissident marginality within "the general society" and "the culture at
large" in opposition to predominant forms for social, and sexual, subjectivity
and relationality; and 3. socialist advocates of revolutionary transformation
of the fundamental structures and essential determining constituents of
"the general society" and "the culture at large." As we proceed this semester,
we will discuss the ramifications of each of these prospective directions
for future glbtq praxis, as well as the historic roots of the contestations
among them. (It should be noted here that from the last years of the 1980s
through the first years of the 1990s "queer" was most frequently embraced
by representatives of the second, "anarchist" position to distinguish themselves
from representatives of the first, "liberal" position, but over the course
of the 1990s "queer" has become rapidly interchangeable with "lesbian,
gay, bi, and/or transgender"; "queer" is frequently invoked today by representatives
of all three -- "liberal," "anarchist," and "socialist" -- positions, together
with "lesbian," "gay," "bisexual," and/or "transgender," to refer, respectively,
to different dimensions of glbtq individual and social existence. We will
discuss the significance of struggles over terms of identification as the
It is important, however, to note well, right at
the beginning of this course, that the "liberal" position is today the
overwhelmingly dominant one (and includes many gradations within it), the
"anarchist" position is by far the most prominent form of opposition, and
the "socialist" position is often virtually invisible, at least within
the contemporary glbtq "mainstream." This state of affairs, as we shall
see, is, moreover, certainly the case with contemporary glbtq film making.
In fact, the costs involved in producing, distributing, and exhibiting
films means that cinematic representations of genuinely radical positions
are often extremely difficult to put together, especially for release to
a large public audience. What's more, although I have done my best to select
significant and challenging films from a range of glbtq perspectives, the
screenings in this course are primarily (although certainly far from exclusively)
limited to relatively low-price video versions of films marketed by large
distributors, who can maintain these low prices due to the economies of
scale by which they operate. UWEC maintains no standing fund to support
the purchase and rental of films or videos used for courses; what money
is available through one-time grants is, moreover, highly limited (in fact,
as is often typical of film courses taught at this "kind" and "level" of
-- "regional," "public," "teaching-centered" [as opposed to "research-centered"]
- higher educational institution in the U.S. today, almost all of the VHS
format videos and the DVDs we will screen this semester are from my personal
collection). Because of this state of affairs, we are, by and large, restricted
to the titles which major distributors -- whether "general" or "gay and
lesbian" -- have decided are likely to prove sufficiently profitable to
include in their catalogs, and these films tend, most often, to represent
"liberal," and to a lesser degree "anarchist," positions, but very rarely
to represent "socialist" positions.
From my perspective this is certainly somewhat problematic
insofar as glbtq politics and culture today, especially in the advanced
capitalist "First World," are increasingly riven by class divisions, divisions
which more "mainstream" glbtq representations often ignore, downplay, or
mystify. These are, in sum, divisions over what, if anything, currently
is, and in the immediate future should be, the relationship between, on
the one hand, glbtq community organization, cultural expression, and political
mobilization, and, on the other hand, considerations of political economy.
Considerations of political economy involve questions concerning the organization
and articulation of social differences, and oppositions, in terms of 1.
material interest and need; 2. right of access to -- as well as opportunity
effectively to exercise -- natural and cultural resources, powers, and
capacities; and 3. extent of ownership and control of socially produced
wealth -- in particular, ownership and control as this is manifested in
the appropriation and accumulation of the products of socially invested
Today the basic problem that confronts glbtq activism
in the U.S. is still most often understood as exclusion and invisibility,
and the solution thereby as inclusion and visibility. As a result, heterosexism
and homophobia tend to be treated as atavistic aberrations, rooted in ignorance,
that run counter to the basic values of American democracy, and which are
doomed to pass into oblivion as more and more straight Americans are re-educated
and thereby enlightened. Glbtq struggle for equality is in effect reduced
to struggle for assimilation and integration: 1. assimilation of "queerity"
into the straight mainstream of American society and culture so that this
"queer difference" can be tolerated and accepted as an -- unthreatening
-- part of the mainstream, and 2. integration of glbtq people into positions
of power within business and industry, government, the military, and the
news and entertainment media without simultaneously challenging the kinds
of ends these institutions are designed to advance or the kinds of interests
they are designed to serve. I believe this means struggling for an ultimately
illusory equality of representation across all levels of a still fundamentally
unequal society. According to the logic of this position, as long as glbtq
people are proportionately equal to straights as exploiters of labor and
as managers, facilitators, regulators, and legitimators of this exploitation,
then seemingly all is well. Even if this scenario were to be realized,
it would leave the largest mass of glbtq people at the bottom of society
together with the largest mass of straights, and therefore glbtq people
would be still subject to capitalist exploitation -- and to all the dehumanizing
costs of such an alienated existence.
Even the superficially "radical" mode of "anarchist"
glbtq politics I have mentioned often collapses into a "liberal" politics
because it is still ultimately focused at the level of "reformist" concerns:
it is concerned to protect and secure the "rights" of a "minority population"
within the existing system of social relations, and this remains true regardless
of whether the "identity" of that "minority population" has been reunderstood
as fluid rather than fixed, and regardless of whether these "rights" have
been reunderstood to include the "rights" to remain rebelliously defiant
of and marginally opposed to the cultural "mainstream." This kind of "radical"
politics, as I see it, is not in effect actually directed at radical social
change: it is not directed at change of what is fundamental about the organization
of the totality of social relations; it does not seek to accomplish fundamental
transformation of dominant social institutions and enterprises or of dominant
structures of social relations and dominant forms of cultural practices.
Yes, glbtq people have made considerable strides
in many directions over the course of the past three decades in the United
States, while the extent of general public "tolerance" and "acceptance"
has dramatically increased, yet it is worth reflecting upon not only the
distance between tolerance and acceptance but also the distances between
acceptance and active support, and between active support and active, intelligent,
and constructive appreciation, interest, and engagement. On what terms,
within what limits, and in what forms, have glbtq people gained this greater
tolerance and acceptance - and which (kinds of) glbtq people are tolerated
and accepted (and to what varying degrees), while which others are not?
These gains are often far more fragile and precarious than might readily
seem to be the case; they will never be adequately secured until it becomes
impossible to derive material advantage from the oppression of glbtq people,
until, that is, glbtq and straight people have worked together to transform
"the larger society" and "the general culture" such that it serves human
needs, not the interests of private profit and accumulation through exploitation.
Radical gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people strive to
create a new form of society -- and new mode of culture to go with it --
organized according to the principles of genuine mutuality, collective
equality, rational cooperation, social justice, ecological sustainability,
and such that "the free development of each is the condition for the free
development of all."
As an advocate of a "socialist" position, I will, as you can tell, represent my position openly in the course of our discussions, not pretending that I am, or can be, a merely disinterested observer. I believe it would be just as problematic to conceal my Marxism from you as it would be to conceal from you the fact that I am gay; in fact, it would be condescending, treating you as if you are too fragile and too immature to be able to think for yourselves. As I see it, any serious intellectual, working as a professor at the university level, should be open with her students about her stance on the issues she is addressing in teaching the texts and topics that she is. In other words, he should have ideas of his own which he (re)presents to his students and he should be accountable to his students for where he is coming from, how, and why. In making my Marxist-socialist position clear and being open about it, trusting and respecting you as capable of dealing with it for what it is, I am inviting contestation and I am making it all the less likely that I might in any way "deviously" "manipulate" your own thinking. I always seek to do justice to positions different from, and opposing, my own -- to my mind no other stance is intellectually, ethically, or politically responsible -- and I welcome, in fact encourage, my students always to feel free to disagree with, argue against, and critique the positions I maintain. I do not seek to "persuade" my students to accept and identify with "my" positions so much as to "compel" you to rethink, reformulate, and rearticulate your previously maintained positions in response to the pressure my arguments, those of your classmates, and those advanced in the texts we will read and the films we will screen exert upon those previously maintained positions. If you agree with me, or find yourself "persuaded" to agree with me, so be it, but that is not my principal objective in openly representing "my own" positions in my pedagogical interaction with you. In short, I want you to think, rigorously and critically, for yourself, and to question all authorities, including me.
It is often tempting, when first engaging with the
cultural productions of an historically oppressed population, uncritically
to affirm, appreciate, and celebrate all representations which emerge from
the experience of occupying, coping with, and striving to overcome and
transform this kind of social position. Since English 380 and 580, Studies
in Film: The Art and Politics of Representation in Contemporary Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Film is only the second course yet to
be taught at UWEC with an explicit focus on glbtq issues (I taught the
first, a course similar to this one, in the fall of 1999), and since both
the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the West Central Wisconsin region
of Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley can still be oppressively heterosexist
and homophobic locations in which to live and work, this uncritical response
undoubtedly will be a temptation for us. However, no matter how entirely
understandable this temptation is, I urge that we resist it. There are
three reasons why. First, it is condescending to imagine that glbtq queer
people always have been and always will be so weak and fragile that any
form of even constructive critique -- i.e., critique in and as solidarity
-- will be destructive to our well-being. Second, to experience an event
is simply to have lived through it, and, more precisely, to have been directly,
personally involved in, affected by, or engaged with what one lived through
as it happened. What an experience is understood to mean depends upon what
frames of intelligibility are brought to bear to make sense of the experience,
and different frames of intelligibility will lead to different interpretations
and evaluations of what this experience was all about. The meaning of experience
is in fact a critical site of ideological conflict and struggle, as different
ways of making sense of a single experience will lead to different ways
of making use of this experience in support of different social-political
ends and interests. Third, it is possible to gain an ultimately much more
powerful appreciation for -- and even enjoyment of -- literary, artistic,
and cinematic texts by subjecting these texts to critical and theoretical
scrutiny than by simply responding to them in a largely uncritical, and
indeed often passively unquestioning, way. In short, serious intellectual
engagement breaks with and moves past the modes of reception and response
which involve merely suspending all disbelief (whether willingly or unwillingly),
losing one's self in the illusion, surrendering to the manipulation of
the text, and delighting in the often seemingly inexplicable and unaccountable
"magic," "mystery," and "wonder" the text appears to produce within and
upon one's "self."
At the same time, I believe that it is always extremely important to take seriously, and to attempt carefully to understand, both the determinants and the effectivities of the kinds of non-critical/pre-critical/and anti-critical indulgences in the "pleasures of the text" I have just described in the last sentence. Certainly, the films we will screen this semester speak, often extremely powerfully and extraordinarily movingly, to my own experience as a gay man, and, more precisely, as a gay man who not only has suffered the painful effects of heterosexism and homophobia in his own life but also has actively and extensively engaged over the course of the past seventeen years in many glbtq community organizations and political mobilizations fighting for glbtq equality. And yet, if anything, my personal interest in what these films represent, and how and why they go about this, motivates me all the more to approach contemporary glbtq film as an object demanding of serious, sustained, and especially critical investigation and reflection. I welcome you joining with me on the occasion this course presents for engagement in this pursuit.
Books for Purchase - All Students (Available in the UWEC Bookstore)
1. Gross, Larry and James D. Woods, eds. The Columbia Reader on Lesbians and Gay Men in Media, Society, and Politics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.
2. Nava, Michael and Robert Davidoff. Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter to America. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
3. Spargo, Tamsin. Foucault and Queer Theory. Postmodern Encounters. Cambridge: Icon Books, 1999.
Book for Rental - All Students (Available in the UWEC Bookstore)
Blasius, Mark and Shane Phelan, eds. We Are Everywhere: a Historical Sourcebook on Lesbian and Gay Politics. New York: Routledge, 1997.
Books for Report Groups
1. Drucker, Peter, ed. Different Rainbows. Gay Men's Press. London: Millivres Ltd., 2000.
2. Feinberg, Leslie. Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink and Blue. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.
3. Storr, Merl, ed. Bisexuality: a Critical Reader. New York: Routledge, 1999.
4. Chasin, Alexandra. Selling Out: the Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Each student will participate in one book report group; you need only purchase the text upon which you will be reporting, and not the other three books, upon which other groups will be reporting, although you are of course welcome to do so if you wish and as you can.
I will supply you with all photocopied handouts of
supplementary readings used in the course, and you should note well that
I will supply photocopy packets of complete credits listings, plot summaries,
and of select reviews, critiques, interviews, and related short articles
for all films screened in this course. I strongly recommend you buy
a minimum of 3" wide, letter-sized (8" X 11") notebook as well as a paper
punch, in which to keep photocopied handouts from the course. This
will help you greatly in keeping organized. And keep in mind, we use all
recycled and recyclable paper here at UWEC; these handouts make readily
available to you, for free, information that you would otherwise have to
seek out, and often pay for, on your own; and they demonstrate my commitment
to making sure that I provide you with a range of materials to help you
learn that could not possibly be found in any single published textbook.
I will also periodically post study guides and other
learning materials on my UWEC faculty website, http://people.uwec.edu/ranowlan,
as well as, potentially, make some resources available to you at an internet
classroom I will create for this course, on the UWEC faculty-student shared
computer drive, and via electronic reserve through McIntyre Library. I
will announce and explain this in class, as I do it, making sure that everyone
can obtain access.
Finally, I will supply copies of all films screened in class. We will screen these in DVD and VHS formats with large-screen projection and high-fidelity stereo sound reproduction.
T afternoon, 9/4: Introduction and Orientation. Introduction to The Art and Politics of Representation.
T evening, 9/4: Screening, Before Stonewall and The Celluloid Closet.
R 9/6: Discussion, Before Stonewall and The Celluloid Closet.
Read for Class: Packets: Introduction to Lesbian and Gay Film/Introduction to Lesbian and Gay Film Studies, Before Stonewall, and The Celluloid Closet (To Be Distributed).
T afternoon, 9/11: Discussion, Readings on GLBT Life and Representations of GLBT Life Before Stonewall/Reflections on Continuing Hostile Representations in the 'Mainstream' Media and 'Mainstream' Popular Opinion.
Read for Class: The Columbia Reader, pp. 48-74 (D'Emilio, Faderman, Chauncey), 163-168 (Newsweek, Schreiber), 301-306 (Sheldon), 316-334 (Moritz, Bruni, Gamson), 354-363 (New York Times, Time, Tobin, Alverson); Created Equal, pp. 1-28.
Reflection and Comment Log 1, Entry 1 Assigned.
T evening 9/11: Screening, Outrage '69 and Word Is Out.
R 9/13: Discussion, Outrage '69 and Word is Out.
Read for Class: Packets: Outrage '69 and Word is Out.
T afternoon 9/18: Discussion, Readings on Stonewall and Gay Liberation.
Read for Class: The Columbia Reader, pp. 175-179 (Marmor, Bieber, and Gold), 363-367 (Lisker, Fosburgh), 460-466 (Thistelwaite, Jackson), and 575-583 (Tucker). We Are Everywhere, pp. 380-393 (Wittman, Red Butterfly, Shelley), 402-404 (Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention), 412-419 (Hocquenghem), and Mieli, (438-442). Created Equal, pp. 29-57.
Reflection and Comment Log 1, Entry 2 Assigned.
T evening 9/18: Screening, The Castro and The Times of Harvey Milk.
R 9/20: Discussion, The Castro and The Times of Harvey Milk.
Read for Class: Packets, The Castro and The Times of Harvey Milk.
T afternoon 9/25: Discussion, Readings on Directions and Divisions within American Gay, Including Gay Liberationist (and Post-Liberationist) Politics and Culture in the 1970s into the Early 1980s - and Beyond.
Read for Class: The Columbia Reader, 135-147 (Ratzinger, Gomes, Price, Ramsey Colloquium), 245-251 (Bronski), 368-376 (Pierson), 466-473 (Closs), 486-497 (Tucker), 583-587 (Tucker, Denneny), and 601-611 (Decter). We Are Everywhere, pp. 443-453 (Duberman, Milk), 459-468 (North American Man-Boy Love Association), 485-498 (Denneny), and 529-534 (Altman).
Reflection and Comment Log 1, Entry 3 Assigned.
T evening 9/25: Screening, Born in Flames and Last Call at Maud's.
R 9/27: Discussion, Born in Flames and Last Call at Maud's.
Read for Class: Packets, Born in Flames and Last Call at Maud's.
T afternoon 10/2: Discussion, Readings on Directions and Divisions within American Lesbian, Including Lesbian Feminist, Politics and Culture in the 1970s into the Early 1980s - and Beyond.
Read for Class: The Columbia Reader, pp. 92-96 (Califia), 105-112 (Queen, Wilson), 367-368 (Klemesrud), 502-517 (Nestle, Nestle, Henderson), and 562-570 (Radicalesbians, Clarke). We Are Everywhere, pp. 420-438 (Bunch; Morgan; Dansky, Knoebel, and Pitchford), 468-469 (National Organization for Women), 498-528 (Frye, Preston, Califia), and 535-541 (Hoagland).
Reflection and Comment Log 1, Entry 4 Assigned.
T evening 10/2: Screening, Silverlake Life and Common Threads.
R 10/4: Discussion, Silverlake Life and Common Threads.
Read for Class: Packets, Silverlake Life and Common Threads.
Class Contribution Summary and Evaluation Report 1 Due.
T afternoon 10/9: Discussion, Readings on AIDS and Its Impact within GLBTQ Politics and Culture.
Read for Class: Packet, Twenty Years of AIDS (To Be Distributed); The Columbia Reader, 375-386 (Signorile), and 393-407 (Albert, Kinsella). We Are Everywhere, pp. 563-574 (Berkowitz, Callen, and Dworkin; Berkowitz and Callen), and pp. 691-703 (Schmalz, Daniel).
Reflection and Comment Log 1 Due.
Reflection and Comment Log 2, Entry 1 Assigned.
T evening 10/9: Screening, Positive, Silence = Death, and Stop the Church.
R 10/11: Discussion, Positive, Silence = Death, and Stop the Church.
Read for Class: Packets, Positive, Silence = Death, and Stop the Church.
T afternoon 10/16: Discussion, Readings on AIDS Activism and Its Impacts and Influences.
Read for Class: We Are Everywhere, pp. 577-586 (Kramer), 600-615 (Kramer, Kramer), 622-650 (ACT UP/NY Portfolio), and 669-677 (Hollibaugh).
Reflection and Comment Log 2, Entry 2 Assigned.
T evening 10/16: Screening, Ballot Measure 9, Out at Work, and The Lesbian Avengers Eat Fire Too.
R 10/18: Discussion, Ballot Measure 9, Out at Work, and The Lesbian Avengers Eat Fire Too.
Read for Class: Packets, Ballot Measure 9, Out at Work, and The Lesbian Avengers Eat Fire Too.
T afternoon 10/23: Discussion, Readings on Repression and Resistance, One.
Read for Class: Packet, Portfolio on Contemporary Anti-GLBT Discrimination, Prejudice, and Violence (To Be Distributed).
Reflection and Comment Log 2, Entry 3 Assigned.
T evening 10/23: Screening, Bent and November Moon.
R 10/25: Discussion, Bent and November Moon.
Read for Class: Packets: Bent and November Moon.
T afternoon 10/30: Discussion, Readings on Repression and Resistance, Two.
Read for Class: Created Equal, pp. 58-134.
Reflection and Comment Log 2, Entry 4 Assigned.
T evening 10/30: Screening, Edward II and Nitrate Kisses.
R 11/1: Discussion, Edward II and Nitrate Kisses.
Read for Class: Packets, Edward II and Nitrate Kisses.
Class Contribution Summary and Evaluation Report 2 Due.
T afternoon 11/6: Discussion, Readings on and in relation to Queer Theory, Politics, and Culture.
Read for Class: Foucault and Queer Theory, pp. 3-71; The Columbia Reader, pp. 31-47 (Duberman, Goode and Wagner, Boswell), 79-91 (Beam, Stein), and 112-116 (Feinberg).
Reflection and Comment Log 2 Due.
Reflection and Comment Log 3, Entry 1 Assigned.
T evening 11/6: Screening, Urbania and Lilies.
R 11/8: Discussion, Urbania and Lilies.
Read for Class: Packets, Urbania and Lilies.
T afternoon 11/13: Discussion, Readings Concerning Contemporary Contestations in GLBTQ Theory, Politics, and Culture -- Who are 'Queers'? Where Did We Come From and How Did We Get This Way? And What Do We Want?
Read for Class: The Columbia Reader, 211-217 (Diaz), 588-594 (Anonymous Queers), 631-640 (Sullivan, Stoddard, Edelbrick, Rees); Created Equal, 135-167; and Packet of Select Marxist Writings on Contemporary GLBT/Queer Theory, Politics, and Culture (To Be Distributed).
Reflection and Comment Log 3, Entry 2 Assigned.
T evening 11/13: Screening, Tongues Untied and The Watermelon Woman.
R 11/15: Discussion, Tongues Untied and The Watermelon Woman.
Read for Class: Packets: Tongues Untied and The Watermelon Woman.
T afternoon 11/20: Discussion, Readings on Race and Racism.
Read for Class: The Columbia Reader, pp. 96-105 (Takagi), 262-270 (Gomez), 531-537 (Tsang), 571-574 (Quintanales), and 644-652 (Yang, Gates, Smith); We Are Everywhere, pp. 400-401 (Third World Gay Revolution), 404-406 (Newton), 472-484 (Lorde, Mays, Klepfisz), 549-559 (DeMarco, Tinney), 712-722 (Anzaldúa), and 787-798 (Harris, Trujillo).
Reflection and Comment Log 3, Entry 3 Assigned.
T evening 11/20: Screening, Improper Conduct and Gay Cuba.
T afternoon 11/27: Discussion, Improper Conduct and Gay Cuba.
Read for Class: Packets: Improper Conduct and Gay Cuba; We Are Everywhere, pp. 406-412 (Letter from the Cuban Gay People to the North American Gay Liberation Movement; Cuban First National Congress on Education and Culture; Responses by the Gay Liberation Party and the Gay Committee of Returned Brigadistas; Venceremos Brigade), and 469-472 (Oikabeth, Lambda Homosexual Liberation Group, and Homosexual Revolutionary Action Front).
Reflection and Comment Log 3, Entry 4 Assigned.
T evening 11/27: Screening, The Virgin Machine and I am My Own Woman.
R 11/29: Discussion, The Virgin Machine and I am My Own Woman.
Read for Class: Packets, The Virgin Machine and I am My Own Woman.
Class Contribution Summary and Evaluation Report 3 Due.
T afternoon 12/4: Group Book Report (#1) and Discussion, Trans Liberation.
Reflection and Comment Log 3 Due.
Reflection and Comment Log 4, Entry 1 Assigned.
T evening 12/4: Screening, Bedrooms and Hallways and It's in the Water.
R 12/6: Discussion, Bedrooms and Hallways and It's in the Water.
Read for Class: Packets, Bedrooms and Hallways and It's In the Water.
T afternoon 12/11: Group Book Report (#2) and Discussion, Bisexuality: a Critical Reader.
Reflection and Comment Log 4, Entry 2 Assigned.
T evening 12/11 (Extended Discussion Class Session): Group Book Reports (#3 and #4) and Discussion, Selling Out: the Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market and Different Rainbows.
R 12/13: Conclusion.
Reflection and Comment Log 4, Entry 3 Assigned.
*** R 12/20: Reflection and Comment Log 4, and Class Contribution
Summary and Evaluation Report 4 Due. ***
ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF CLASS SESSIONS
In this course we will do two things in class: screen
films and hold discussions. We will discuss the following: 1. the films
we have screened; 2. readings providing contexts and perspectives in which
to help make sense of and to critique these films, and 3. diverse issues
which the films and readings raise for us. Every Tuesday evening will function
as an extended screening session. On Tuesday afternoon we will engage in
an extended discussion of readings in contexts and perspectives and on
Thursday afternoon we will focus our discussion primarily on the films
screened the previous Tuesday evening. Frequently you will be working for
part of a class period in small groups or doing some short writing in response
to questions I ask you (especially in reviewing clips Thursday from the
films screened the previous Tuesday night) to then share with the class;
both of these approaches (and others) will help initiate discussion. I
will work hard to help everyone feel comfortable and confident enough to
participate regularly in class discussions. I will direct our discussions
and, as useful, periodically make brief presentations to get us started
(or to keep us going), but I will not formally lecture at any point in
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS OF STUDENTS
I expect students in this course to be sincerely
interested in learning about the subject matter of this course, and to
be consistently intellectually serious as well as academically diligent
in their pursuit of this learning. I expect students to strive to bring
actively and extensively to bear -- in their essays and contributions to
class discussion -- insights they gain through their engagement with the
texts and topics addressed as part of this course, and I expect students
to strive at the same time to relate these texts and topics as closely
and as fully as possible to subjects of genuine interest and concern in
their own lives. Finally, I expect students to let me know right away when
and if they have any questions or problems about any aspect of how they
are doing in and with the course, so that I can do everything I possibly
can to help answer these questions and solve these problems.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE GRADE
In evaluating all work done for this course, I will take account of how carefully, seriously, intelligently, enthusiastically, and imaginatively students engage with the concepts, issues, positions, and arguments addressed in the course and represented by the texts we read and screen, by me, and by each other.
I expect students to attend class regularly, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and on Tuesday evenings; let me know if and when you experience problems doing so. It is difficult to do well in a course which you do not attend regularly. At the same time I understand that there will be occasions in which attendance is not possible and I respect you to make your own decisions as to when this will be. I do not expect that everyone will be able to attend the screening of all of the films (or to participate in all of the discussions) included as part of this course; I simply expect that you will do so for as many of these as you can.
What is This and Why it is Important
If you don't contribute to the work of this class
not only will you fail to derive as much gain from it as would be the case
if you did contribute, but also you will deprive everyone else of the benefit
of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, knowledge, and experience.
In fact, to remain passively silent in class exploits the work of others
who actively engage.
Quality of participation is more important than quantity, although a sufficient quantity is indispensable to insure quality. Quality class participation does not, moreover, involve merely asking questions of me and responding to my questions; quality class participation requires you to work as assiduously as you can to advance a serious and substantial discussion with your peers as well as with me about the texts and topics subject to discussion. Students should, therefore, be prepared to engage with and respond to each other in class discussion, and I will take particular note of how well you do so.
Alternative Forms of Class Contribution
Class contribution can extend beyond mere speaking in class: it may include a variety of ways in which you can bring to bear your insights to help all of us gain from the experience of this course. If you believe that you can make significant contributions to the success of our class in ways other than by speaking in our class meetings, please arrange to talk with me about this in a conference as early in the semester as possible. I will be glad to support these efforts if they seem potentially productive to me, but I need to know about them and to discuss with you what I think about them in order to endorse them. I certainly understand some college students are better prepared and more confident speaking in class than others, but I would like to engage with what each one of you is thinking and feeling as we proceed through the semester. So, if you tend to be somewhat shy in class, make up for this by coming to talk with me outside of class and by sending me questions and comments over e-mail.
Class Contribution Summary and Evaluation Reports
I will divide your class contribution grade into four parts, corresponding to the four units of the course. At the end of each unit I will ask you to prepare a brief class contribution summary and evaluation report, assessing your contribution to the class throughout the period in question. I will take what you write into account in determining your class contribution grades. I will give you specific instructions on what I would like you to summarize and evaluate, yet in each case I will ask that you also include some thoughts that you did not have the opportunity or did not feel comfortable enough to share in class; these additional reflections will help me get a better sense of what you have been thinking about and how you have been responding to readings, class discussions, and screenings than would be the case if I only had to rely upon what you wrote in your logs as well as said in class. Each class contribution summary and evaluation report will be due one week after it has been assigned, together with the log due at the same time. These reports may be any length you see fit, yet you should try not to write excessively long reports, as these are likely to prove counterproductive, especially if you are overly defensive about your contribution (or lack thereof). The class contribution grade for each unit will be worth 10% of the overall course grade, adding up to a combined total of 40%.
REFLECTION AND COMMENT LOGS
I will assign you one reflection and comment question
or set of questions per week related to readings, screenings, and class
discussions. Your response will comprise an entry into a log which you
will keep and turn in one week after the end of each unit (i.e., as indicated
in the schedule, logs 1-3 will each contain four entries, and log 4 will
contain three entries). I ask that you type out your response to these
questions, double-space, on singles sides of standard white letter-sized
(8" X 11") paper. Your margins should be standard-length, your name should
be at the top of the first page of the combined log, and you should staple
the separate pages of the log together before turning this in to me for
a grade. You may use any standard font you prefer and your print size may
range between 10 and 12 points. Although I am most concerned with the content
of your writing here, I do ask that you try to follow rules and conventions
of Standard Written English as closely and fully as possible. At the least
I expect that you will strive to write clearly, precisely, and coherently.
You will receive a higher grade the more cleanly and effectively you communicate
your ideas. Also, I would like you to make clear all sources to which you
refer in your paper, including film titles, and to fully document any outside
sources you use (sources other than those used in and assigned for this
class). I recommend following MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines
for proper documentation of outside sources, yet I won't be a stickler
for perfection in this regard as long as your documentation is adequately
comprehensive and you follow a consistent documentation pattern (although
it would help if you enclose page numbers of quotes, paraphrases, and summaries
taken from written texts in parentheses following upon your use of these
citations, as well as a complete list of works cited at the end of each
log entry). You should aim for a target of approximately 1000 words, on
average (roughly the equivalent of four double-spaced, typed pages), per
log entry, although what matters most to me is not page or word length,
but how clearly, precisely, effectively, and, as far as possible, succinctly
you address each assigned question or set of questions. Please do
not worry about the page or word target I have mentioned above; this is
just to give you some kind of rough guidance in estimating how much you
should try to write.
I will be most happy to help you as you are working
on these log entries; I want you to find these useful to you, and I want
you to communicate your thoughts and feelings effectively to me. I'd love
it if all your logs were wonderful, just as I'd love it if every student
enrolled in this class earned a grade of A for her or his work.
Reflection and Comment Logs 1-3 will each be worth 10% of the overall course grade, whereas reflection and comment log 4 will be worth 7.5% of the overall course grade.
GROUP BOOK REPORT
Each student will participate in a group that will
work together to present a report to the class based upon its reading of
one assigned book. There will be four groups, and the books are, as indicated
in the "texts" section of this syllabus: Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink
or Blue, Bisexuality: a Critical Reader, Different Rainbows,
and Selling Out: the Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market. These
are important books that address urgent topics that we will not have as
much chance to spend discussing in the rest of the course as they deserve.
Your group's responsibility will be to teach us about
what your book presents, what we can learn from it, and why it is important
that we do. Your presentation may allude to any other readings and screenings
from this course, or beyond this course, that you decide will help elucidate
the meaning, value, and significance of what your book brings to our attention.
You may include photographic handouts, clips from videos or dvds, reference
to internet (world wide web) sites, clips from audio or audio-visual recordings,
power point presentations (or the like), dramatic skits or role-playing
exercises, mock debates among your group members, and many other possibilities.
I will work with you over the course of the semester to help you prepare
for your presentation and our subsequent discussion of it. I will require
each group to meet with me as a group at least once, in an extensive conference
to discuss how to approach reporting on your book, and to gain my assistance.
You may certainly meet with me more than this one time, as you need and
as you wish. Once again, I'd like you all to do superb jobs in these presentations,
and I'll do what I can to help make this happen.
As you are working on putting your report together,
you may certainly feel free to disagree with and critique your book's writer
or writers, and you should likewise feel free to disagree with and critique
each other; presenting different, and opposing, takes on the book can make
the presentation even more interesting. You don't have to do either of
these things, but you certainly can if you wish.
You will sign up for group reports by the end of
the third week of classes, and your group can meet with me as soon as you
are ready to begin talking about the report; you may also meet with me
individually or in small subgroups if this proves more convenient, although
I'd really like to meet with you all together at least one time.
Your group book report will be worth 22.5% of
the overall course grade.
OPTION: ADDITIONAL TWO INDEPENDENT STUDY CREDITS
Ideally, a course which requires this many in-class
hours per week should offer you at least four credits. I am working on
seeking to gain four credits for all the film courses we teach in the English
Department. However, that change is at least a year away. In the meantime,
I want to show my appreciation to you for committing to this course, by
offering you additional credit, should you wish to receive it.
Undergraduate students enrolled in the course
may complete an additional final term paper (or equivalent project) on
an issue of particular individual interest in GLBTQ Studies/GLBTQ film
(and/or television), subject to my approval and consultation with me. This
is completely optional, but for students who would like to earn more credit
for the amount of time this class is scheduled to meet, this will be an
I will ask any graduate students enrolled
in the course to write a short term paper as part of their job in meeting
the requirements for taking the course for three graduate credits. If graduate
students wish to pursue additional independent study credit, they must
consult with me about the prospect of completing a more extensive additional
final paper or project.
If you are interested in the two-credit independent study option, please let me know by the end of the third week of classes. I encourage you seriously to think about this; if you do not already recognize this now, you will soon find out that a vast range of issues exists in the fields of glbtq studies and of studies in glbtq film, video, and moving-image culture that you may choose from to explore - extending far beyond what we will have time to address, at least in detail, as part of this one course. I welcome you pursuing such an interest of yours, and I'll be glad to help you pursue it.
POSSIBLE EXTRA CREDIT (WITHIN THE THREE CREDITS)
Students may obtain extra credit by writing a short report on or critique of any one film screened at the Minneapolis-St. Paul LGBT Film Festival in October (specific dates to be announced) or do the same on any two other contemporary LGBT films and/or television shows. Please note that I will work with you to help make arrangements so that all English 380/580 students interested in attending the Film Festival can find transportation - and pay for tickets -- as needed. The festival is a great event; I highly recommend it - and the same for the whole year's series of film screenings and festivals sponsored by the University Film Society in Minneapolis.
THE GOALS OF THE BACCALAUREATE
This university is, as most of you undoubtedly well know, a liberal arts institution; education in the liberal arts (and sciences) represents the historic and central commitment of what we do together on this UW campus - not vocational training and pre-professional development. The university administration and faculty support this commitment so strongly that they have asked that all syllabi elaborate the official goals of the baccalaureate, as well as identify which ones the course in question will help you achieve. According to the UWEC administration, the baccalaureate degree shall work to develop the following for UWEC students:
UWEC strives to help you meet these objectives in the course of the "higher education" you pursue here. Please note that in making these our foremost aims, we at UWEC clearly distinguish ourselves from technical colleges as well as from all other UW schools, especially places like Stout and River Falls. This course will help contribute to you meeting goals 1-4, 6, and 9-11.
an understanding of a liberal education. an appreciation of the University as a learning community. an ability to inquire, think, analyze. an ability to write, read, speak, listen. an understanding of numerical data. a historical consciousness. international and intercultural experience. an understanding of science and scientific methods. an appreciation of the arts. an understanding of values. an understanding of human behavior and human institutions.
I encourage students to meet with me in conference during office hours or at another mutually convenient time to discuss any issue of interest or concern. Please do not hesitate to drop by during office hours or to ask for an appointment at any time you think this might be helpful; I regard making myself available for conferences with you to be my responsibility as your teacher. Furthermore, I always welcome getting to know and working with my students outside as well as inside of class. I recognize that learning which takes place in conferences can at times be equally as important, and in fact occasionally even more important, than what takes place in class. I am ready to do whatever I can in conference to help you in your understanding of issues addressed in presentations, discussions, and required readings and screenings, as well as to help you in your writing for and participation in this course. You may also feel free to write me via e-mail, and to call me -- or leave a message for me on the answering machine -- at my office. I enjoy meeting and working with students outside as well as inside of class; I really do. I would rather talk with you during my office hours than do anything else, so please do not worry about "disturbing" me in coming to talk with me; my office hours are time that I have set aside to meet, talk, and work with you. PLEASE DO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY! And, remember, once again, taking the time to meet and talk with me periodically in conference is a great way to contribute to the class.
I strive to be as responsible and as accountable to my students as possible.
I believe it is crucial that students become aware of the ideas and the
values which shape and direct their education, and I believe students should
expect that all of their teachers will be prepared to explain why they
teach as they do. Please, therefore, take the time, as early as you can
this semester, to read through and think carefully about my "Statement
of Teaching Philosophy" that I have posted on my UWEC faculty website:
. This statement explains WHY I teach as I do. I think it is extremely
important that you know and understand where your teachers are coming from
in teaching you as they do. You will find me one who trusts you sufficiently
always to be frank and honest about this with you.
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