Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Introduction to Queer Studies

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of queer studies through an examination of key theoretical texts and exemplary practices. We will be exploring a diverse set of attempts to upset, oppose, or subvert ideas and practices of normality and displace the opposition between "homosexuality" and "heterosexuality" as the main axis on which human sexuality is mapped.

Queer Studies focuses on the social production and regulation of sexuality. It challenges the ways sexual normativities structure and shape diverse social and political institutions. It explores the intersections of sexual marginality and other axes of difference (gender, race, disability, class, nation, etc). It discusses ways that the social organisation of desire produces forms of oppression and resistance in varied places and times.

This study-unit will give students an introduction to Queer Studies as a mode of theory and a cultural practice. “Queer” describes sexualities, genders and other social positionalities that fall outside normative identities.

Study-unit Aims:

- To introduce students to the field of queer theory and the perspectives of queer studies;
- To familiarise with changing trends in the sociological study of gender and sexuality;
- To provide a critical overview of the work around queer studies and to generate awareness of the research that has been conducted into selected areas within the fields of sexuality, gender and queer studies;
- To understand and evaluate the use of queer as a concept and as a method in ‘queer sociology’;
- To familiarise students with social constructionist and other queer, postmodern, poststructural, and anthropological theories and ideas about gender, sex and sexuality;
- To address relationships between queer studies and other modes of theory designed to illuminate and critique various forms of power, marginality, privilege, and normativity;
- To understand the relationship of Queer Theories to major theoretical explanations of sexuality, such as critical race theory, transgender studies, feminist theory, Marxism and disability studies perspectives on “queer” experiences, bodies, performance and desires while analysing the links between the individual experience and the larger social context;
- To provide a space for discussion on issues surrounding sexual and gender identities, and bodily diversity;
- To apply the knowledge gathered from our studies to the scope of our own lives, our university, and our communities;
- To provide a safe space for all students to learn regardless of gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sex characteristics or ability.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- explain the meaning of concepts used in sexuality, gender and queer studies;
- identify and distinguish theories and perspectives informing queer studies (mainly, feminist theory, poststructuralist, critical race theory, disability studies, gender theory);
- discuss the intersection of issues / discussions in queer studies with major areas in the social sciences;
- think imaginatively and creatively to deconstruct and/or propose ideas around sexuality and gender.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- integrate readings and films with own ideas, reflections, arguments, critiques and/or commentary;
- demonstrate critical self-reflection on material and discussions presented during the study-unit;
- express themselves in writing with a coherent structure and presentation of arguments;
- reflectively evaluate their own learning and personal planning processes.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

There is no single textbook for queer studies / queer theory. A number of key titles relevant to this course are available at the library. Other texts, including journal articles, chapters from various other publications, and research reports will be assigned during lectures. Links to articles, relevant laws and policies and video clips will also be provided during the lecture.

1. Bell, David & Jon Binnie. (2000). The Sexual Citizen. Queer Politics & Beyond. Cambridge & Oxford: Polity Press.
2. Butler, Judith. (1993). Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge.
3. Butler, Judith. (2004). Undoing Gender. New York & London: Routledge.
4. Halberstam, J. (1998). Female masculinity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
5. Holmes, Morgan. (Ed.) (2009). Critical Intersex. London & New York: Routledge.
6. Jagose, Annamarie. (1997). Queer Theory: An Introduction. New York: New York University Press.
7. Kosofsky Sedgwick, Eve. (1990). Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley: University of California Press.
8. McRuer, Robert. (2006). Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York: New York University Press.
9. Seidman, Steven (Ed.) (1996). Queer Theory / Sociology. Oxford & Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
10. Stryker, Susan & Stephen Whittle (Eds.) (2006). The Transgender Studies Reader. London & New York: Routledge.
11. Sullivan, Nikki. (2003). A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. New York: New York University press.
12. Warner, Michael. (Ed.) (1993). Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics & Social Theory (Vol. 6). University of Minnesota Press.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Essay Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Ruth Baldacchino

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.