Graduate Topics in Film: Queer Aesthetics
240-002 | CCN: 25473
Tues 2:00 – 5:00 PM, Barrows 602 ///
This course explores the encounter between queer theory and aesthetics. Moving away from the recent social scientific turn in queer studies, it seeks to unearth and advance approaches that focus on questions of reading, emphasize aesthetic experience, and pay close attention to “cultural objects,” understood as both aesthetic artifacts and sites of ideological and political tension. Three perspectives, formulated as questions, guide our inquiries: (1) What kinds of queer thought about the arts and “the aesthetic” as a category have emerged in recent critical theory (in works by, for example, Fred Moten, David Getsy, and Jennifer Doyle)? Here queer is understood in the largest sense, as a troubling of the categories of the “normal”; (2) Is it possible to track a history of specifically queer (now in the sense of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or gender nonnormative) aesthetics — that would pass through categories like camp, the fabulous, the melodramatic, etc? We will consider this question in relation to specific films, performances, and works of art by, for example, Langston Hughes, Jean Genet, Andy Warhol, Ming Wong, and Narcissister; (3) How has queer theory — in its now-canonical disciplinary sense — been shaped from the outset by the critical encounter with aesthetic objects, from Eve Sedgwick’s Between Men and Epistemology of the Closet to Stephen Best’s None Like Us and Tavia Nyong’o’s Afro-Fabulations? Fo
r students with no background in queer theory, this course will serve as an introduction to some of its key texts and debates; for students interested in aesthetics, visual art, performance, film, or literature, this course will challenge you to put your reading practices into a critical theoretical frame through the lens of queerness. We will read foundational texts of queer and aesthetic theory, and spend a significant amount of time on recent developments in the field, especially in its intersections with Black, trans, and disability studies.