Spring 2013 / TR 2:00-3:15pm / Waverly Building 569

Prof. Laura Portwood-Stacer, PhD

Prof’s Email: / Twitter: @lportwoodstacer

Office: 239 Greene St, 3rd Floor

Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-4:30pm, Wednesday by appointment

Course Website: / Course Hashtag: #qipc


Course Description

In this course, we will explore queerness as identity, practice, theory, and politics, all through the lens of popular culture. Our approach will be grounded in theories, methods, and texts of communication and media studies, thus it will serve as a complement to other queer theory and culture courses offered across the university.


After a brief introduction to the concept of “queer,” we will cover four major themes in the relationship between queerness and popular culture: 1) media representation of queer people and desires; 2) queer consumption practices of media texts; 3) the formation of queer community through mediated communication; and 4) the construction of queer identity through popular discourse. Readings will include both theoretical texts and case studies both historical and contemporary. Students will complete the course with a critical understanding of what it means to be and “do” queer in contemporary culture. Students will also be equipped to bring queer analytical tools to their everyday and professional encounters with popular culture.


Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to

-Define queer and explain queer theory’s contributions to our understanding of gender, sexuality, and communication

-Recognize, interpret, and critique mediated representations of queer bodies and identities

-Perform queer readings of popular cultural texts and understand queer audiences’ motivations for doing so

-Explain the relationship between media texts and technologies and queer community formation

-Recognize ways in which identity is socially constructed and performed

-Question hegemonic understandings of normalness, gender, and sexuality


Required Texts

We will have in-class screenings of media texts nearly every day. You are responsible for making these up on your own time if you need to miss class.


Required books:

  • Bornstein, K. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.
  • Driver, S., ed. (2008). Queer Youth Cultures. Albany: SUNY Press.
  • Jagose, Annamarie. 1996. Queer Theory: An Introduction. New York: NYU Press.


All other required readings will be provided as PDFs during the first week of the term.

Course Grade Calculation


2 Response Blog Posts 50 points ea. / 100 points total 20% of final grade
Book Review 125 points 25% of final grade
Media Analysis/Project


Proposal: 15 points

Final submission: 135 points

30% of final grade
Final Exam 75 points 15% of final grade
Attendance/Participation 50 points 10% of final grade


Final grades, based on total points earned, out of 500:

320-334 335-349 350-369 370-384 385-399 400-419 420-434 435-449 450-469 470-500
D D+ C- C C+ B- B B+ A- A



Evaluation Criteria

A = Excellent

This work demonstrates comprehensive and solid understanding of course material and presents thoughtful interpretations, well-focused and original insights, and well-reasoned analysis. It is thought-provoking and creative, and pushes the reader beyond predictable conclusions. It includes skillful use of source materials and illuminating examples and illustrations. It is submitted in polished form and manifests sincere effort to be thorough and professional.

B = Good

This work demonstrates a complete and accurate understanding of course material, presenting a reasonable degree of insight and broad level of analysis. Work reflects competence. Source material, along with examples and illustrations, are used appropriately. “B” work is reasonable, clear, appropriate and complete, but may not demonstrate unique or original insight. It may also be lacking in polish, effort, or professional presentation.

C = Adequate/Fair

This work demonstrates a basic understanding of course material but remains incomplete, superficial or expresses some important errors or weaknesses. Source material may be used inadequately or somewhat inappropriately. The work may lack concrete, specific examples and illustrations and may be hard to follow or vague. It belies a clear lack of effort and polish.

D = Unsatisfactory

This work demonstrates a serious lack of understanding and fails to demonstrate the most rudimentary elements of the course assignment. Sources may be used inappropriately or not at all. The work may be inarticulate or extremely difficult to read.


Course Policies

Participation/Attendance: All students are expected to actively participate in class sessions. This means coming to class prepared by having done all the readings, bringing assigned readings to class, paying attention during all lectures and screenings, asking thoughtful questions, and sharing personal insights when appropriate. Your participation grade is assessed above and beyond your attendance; just showing up to class will not earn you any participation points. Spending class time on your laptop or cell phone engaged in non-class activities will negatively affect your participation grade. Regular tardiness will affect your participation grade, as it presents an obstacle to starting class discussions on time and thereby detracts from the other students’ learning experience.


A note about virtual participation alternatives: if you are not the kind of person who is comfortable volunteering in class, you can also participate by actively engaging with your classmates’ blog posts on a regular basis and by tweeting using the #qipc hashtag. If you plan to pursue this option, please make me aware of your Twitter username. Note that participating in online formats will not excuse you from being attentive during class discussions.


Publication of work: Some of the work for this class will be posted publicly on the course WordPress site. This has a dual purpose of cultivating conversation among and beyond the participants in the class, and of allowing you to practice presenting your ideas in a public forum (a professional and civic skill for which the Media, Communication, and Culture program is hopefully preparing you.) To protect your online privacy, you are welcome to create a pseudonymous WordPress account for use in the class – please let me know if you do so. You are free to delete your posts from the site once final grades have been submitted, if you wish. My professorial evaluations of your work will not be public – they will remain confidential between you and me.


Late work: Due dates are firm. Assignment grades will be automatically reduced by 10% for each day (or fraction of day) they are late. If you must submit work late, kindly notify me so that I know you are planning to turn it in. The final essay cannot be turned in late, as I must report final grades immediately after the essay due date.


Backing up your work: Online platforms like WordPress can be unstable. Always save your work for yourself offline so that if the web version goes awry you still have something to submit as a back-up.


Absences: You are allowed 3 unexcused absences, no questions asked. After that, any absences will result in a 10% reduction in your attendance grade, per absence. If you have extenuating personal circumstances, please arrange a meeting with me so that together we can be sure your attendance will not adversely impact your performance in the course.


Students with disabilities: Students with physical or learning disabilities are required to register with the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities, 726 Broadway, 2nd Floor, (212-998-4980) and are required to present a letter from the Center to the instructor at the start of the semester in order to be considered for appropriate accommodation.


ACADEMIC INTEGRITY AND PLAGIARISM: I take academic integrity extremely seriously. When you turn in work that is not your own, you communicate to me that you are not serious about this course and I will adjust your grade to reflect that. If I suspect that you have submitted dishonest work, you will receive a zero for the assignment. You may also fail the course and the case may be forwarded to department and university administrators. If you have any doubts as to whether work you plan to submit violates the standards of academic integrity, please ask me in advance. It is better to have an honest question cleared up before the fact than to risk failure and disciplinary action.


All students must be familiar with the NYU Steinhardt School definition of plagiarism and the policy on academic integrity. The NYU Steinhardt Statement on Academic Integrity is available at:


The Steinhardt School defines plagiarism as follows:

Plagiarism, one of the gravest forms of academic dishonesty in university life, whether

intended or not, is academic fraud. In a community of scholars, whose members are

teaching, learning and discovering knowledge, plagiarism cannot be tolerated.

Plagiarism is failure to properly assign authorship to a paper, a document, an oral

presentation, a musical score and/or other materials, which are not your original work.

You plagiarize when, without proper attribution, you do any of the following:

Copy verbatim from a book, an article or other media;

Download documents from the Internet;

Purchase documents;

Report from other’s oral work;

Paraphrase or restate someone else’s facts, analysis and/or conclusions;

Copy directly from a classmate or allow a classmate to copy from you.Other Resources for Students


The Writing Center

411 Lafayette, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003
212 998-8866
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm; Friday, 11 am to 4 pm


NYU Wellness Exchange


The Wellness Exchange is the constellation of the University’s expanded and enhanced programs and services designed to address the overall health and mental health needs of our students.


Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Services

Kimmel Center for University Life
60 Washington Square South, Suite 602

The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Student Services at New York University exists to create campus environments that are inclusive and supportive of student diversity in the areas of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. The LGBT office offers many programs in the areas of health and wellness, sponsoring/cosponsoring the LGBT Health Fair, AIDS Awareness Week, and self-defense workshops. Throughout the year, the office offers programs and discussions on topics such as relationships, parenting, marriage, safer sex, drugs and alcohol, stress management, body image, and dating.