What does queer art look like, sound like, feel like in our bodies? What forms does queer art take? What representational and political strategies does it take up? How are queer art forms connected to collectives and communities? What possibilities do they offer for understanding our past, present, and future?
In “Queer Forms,” we’ll consider “queer” as both an adjective that can describe texts and a verb that can transform them. Our readings will be drawn from works by queer writers, mostly from the Americas, mostly from the 20th century to the present, with an emphasis on intersectionality. Throughout the semester, we’ll read nonfiction texts—like excerpts from Audre Lorde’s Zami and Sara Ahmed’s “Feminist Killjoys”— that put forth takes on queerness, whether they call it that or something else. We’ll also read fictional texts that center queer stories and experiment with form. These will likely include short fiction by Bryan Washington, Carmen Maria Machado, and Julián Delgado Lopera, as well as María Irene Fornés’s play Fefu and Her Friends. In order to delve into queer forms more fully, we’ll also consider works from other mediums, including visual art, performance art, dance, and film.
Throughout the semester, we’ll develop our own takes on what “queer forms” mean to each of us. Writing, like the forms we’ll be considering, is a process. This R1B course is designed to help you understand, engage, and build upon and your own writing process, in the context of a collaborative classroom community. The class will be writing-intensive, and we will discuss and practice a wide range of reading and compositional strategies and genres. These, and the related assignments, will build in scope over the course of the semester. This course is oriented towards helping you hone critical thinking, reading, writing, and research skills, applicable far beyond the disciplinary boundaries of Comparative Literature and the institutional boundaries of Cal.