CSHM445: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

CSHM445: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick: Queer Theory and Beyond

Instructor: Maggie Nelson

This course will take as its foundation the expansive, groundbreaking work of queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (d. 2009), paying close attention to her books Epistemology of the Closet (1990), Tendencies (1994), A Dialogue on Love (2000), and Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (2002). We will also use Sedgwick’s work as an invitation to investigate the work of several related, fascinating others. This may include: literature by writers important to Sedgwick, such as Henry James, Marcel Proust, and Jane Austen; the work of other theorists of gender and sexuality with whom Sedgwick was in conversation, such as Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Michael Moon, Leo Bersani, Gary Fisher, and D. A. Miller; historical events of GLBT significance, such as Stonewall, the AIDS crisis, AIDS activism, the pathologization of queers by medical & psychological establishments, and challenges faced by GLBT adolescents; performative speech acts as theorized by J. L. Austin; basic psychoanalytic theory (Freud, Lacan) as well as non-Oedipal models of psychology as explored by Melanie Klein, Sandor Ferenczi, Michael Balint, and Silvan Tomkins; critical race theory; chaos and systems theory; cancer writing; and Buddhist pedagogy. We will also look at Sedgwick’s ongoing influence on contemporary thinkers, activists, and artists, as well as host guests, discuss related current events, and write papers of varying kinds. Please note that this class is an upper-level seminar for students willing and able to engage seriously with exciting but often challenging texts from a wide variety of fields. Dedication and curiosity are required.