English 186 - Spring, 2016

Literature, Sexuality, & Gender

Class Information

Instructor: Freeman, Elizabeth
CRN: 63197
Time: MWF 11:00-11:50
Location: 106 Olson


    This course will explore the relationship between literature and its genres, on the one hand, and the system of gender/sexuality that organizes Western culture, on the other. We will seek to understand how various "schools" of European-and American literature (Romanticism, sentimentalism, realism/naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism) are shaped by the categories of male and female, and homo- and heterosexual, and how women and sexual minorities have engaged with these literary schools. However, one twist to this course is that these categories cannot be understood without understanding how race shapes gender/sexuality, and how gender/sexuality shapes race, particularly the black/white binary. We will therefore begin with two classics of American race relations, Harriet Jacobss Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Richard Wright's Native Son, to map out the nexus of race, gender, and sexuality in the U.S., before turning to texts written by women and sexual minorities both African American and white, British and American. You should emerge with both an enhanced sense of what gender/sexuality and race mean and how they intersect, and a new understanding of literary history as something shaped by social issues.


    Midterm Paper: 15%
    Final Paper: 25%
    Final Exam: 25%
    Ongoing written and oral class participation: 25%
    Ongoing pop quizzes: 10%


    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs
    Native Son (Restored Edition), Richard Wright
    Passing, Nella Larsen
    Orlando, Virginia Woolf
    A Visitation of Spirits, Randall Kenan