Jagose, excerpts from Queer Theory: An Introduction: “Introduction” (1-6); “Queer” (72-100); “Afterword” (127-132)
- Jagose says on p. 3 that the concept of queer is characterized by “definitional indeterminacy” and “elasticity.” What do you think these terms mean?
- What are some of the reasons why queer theorists and activists object to the notion of “identity”?
- What are some ways in which the AIDS epidemic guided activists to question previous understandings of stable identity?
Sedgwick, excerpts from Epistemology of the Closet (pp. 1-10, Axiom 1, Axiom 2, Axiom 4)
- Is homosexuality a practice or an identity? Has this changed over time?
- What do you think it means to say that “coming out” is a “speech act” that has “nothing to do with the acquisition of new information”?
- What does the term “sexual orientation” usually refer to? Why does Sedgwick find this to be interesting?
- What are some other ways we might define or characterize sexual orientation?
- How does Sedgwick define the terms “sex,” “gender,” and “sexuality”?
- Does it matter what “causes” homosexuality? Why do you think our society is so obsessed with figuring this out?
Butler, excerpts from Gender Trouble (pp. vii-ix, 30-34, 136-141)
- What is “trouble” and why is Butler interested in promoting it?
- What does it mean to say that gender and sexuality are cultural constructions? Does this make them less real than if they were somehow “natural”?
- How does drag reveal the cultural construction of gender identity?
Gauntlett, “Queer Theory and Fluid Identities” (145-163)
- How does this reading clarify for you some of the ideas discussed both in class and in the Jagose reading?