English 186 - Winter, 2017

Literature, Sexuality, & Gender

Class Information

Instructor: Freeman, Elizabeth
CRN: 44094
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 126 Wellman


    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, the Gothic, 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, selections from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and all of 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 and about women and sexual minorities. 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: 20%
    Final Paper: 25%
    Final Exam, 20%
    Ongoing written class participation: 25%
    Ongoing pop quizzes: 10%
    Oral class participation: up to 5% extra credit


    Native Son, Richard Wright
    Passing, Nella Larsen
    The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
    Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner