Undergraduate Course: Gender and Sexuality in Literature (LLLG07132)
|School||Centre for Open Learning
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course examines the centrality of gender and sexuality in the discussion of literature and culture. Focusing on the construction of gender identity, sexuality, and gender norms in literary texts from Shakespeare to Angela Carter, with a focus on LGBTQ+ narratives, the course maps major developments in gender, sexuality and queer studies.
Historically and in the present, gender and sexuality have been constructed and maintained through social norms and restrictions. While heteronormative and patriarchal cultures have insisted on prescribed gendered roles, individuals have found ways to subvert these norms. Meanwhile, feminist, gender and sexuality studies have examined the ways in which gender roles are constructed. This course examines the centrality of gender and sexuality in the discussion of literature and culture across space and time. Focusing on the construction of gender identity, sexuality, and gender norms in literary texts from Shakespeare to Angela Carter, with a focus on LGBTQ+ narratives, the course maps major developments in gender, sexuality and queer studies. Themes covered include theories of gender, modern and earlier notions of sexuality, same-sex desire and identity, transgender narratives, gender fluidity and utopian forms of gender, transgressive sexualities, stories of pain as well as of love, the relationship between gender, sexuality and the literary genre, and literary responses to gender constructions. By the end of the course students will have knowledge of key topics in gender, sexuality and feminist studies, and of the central role of gender and sexuality in literary works. They will be able to identify past and current attitudes toward aspects of gender and sexuality through literary representations, and to identify ways in which gender roles and sexual norms are constructed or deconstructed. They will be able to apply concepts of gender and sexuality in analysing literary texts, and to communicate and express ideas referring to these terms.
Students on the course will read a selection of literary texts exploring gender and sexuality. Early modern notions of gender and desire will be explored through Shakespearean drama, while modern notions of gender and sexuality will be studied through Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Gender fluidity, transgender and non-binary identities will be explored though reading Virginia Woolf's Orlando and Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues, while the construction and challenging of gender and sexual norms will be examined through Angela Carter's fairy tales. Utopian notions of gender, gender identity, and sexuality will be presented in Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness and Janelle Monáe's Dirty Computer, while feminist theories on the healing power of love and community, and resistance to oppression, will be studied through texts by Audre Lorde, Tony Kushner, and Chinelo Okparanta. Alongside discussion of specific literary texts, students will be introduced to key concept within the field of gender and sexuality studies, and to the relation between feminist theory and gender and sexuality studies. Literary texts will be placed within their social and historical contexts, and the mini-lectures will serve to introduce historical and contemporary theories of gender and sexuality through which to approach the texts. Students will thus be asked to consider the role of literature in formulating experiences of gender and sexuality, and to consider the relationship between history and the development of theories of gender and sexuality.
Student Learning Experience:
Through mini-lectures and supportive seminars, this course will give students the opportunity to read and discuss a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as introducing literary theory based on feminist theory and gender and sexuality studies. Attention will be given to political, historical, social and cultural contexts. Students will be given introductory lectures on each text/author and will be asked to participate in group discussion, and be given the opportunity to deliver a short presentation. With guidance, students will identify literary devices through the close reading of excerpts and be encouraged to use recognised literary critical methodologies in their analysis of texts.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
||Lifelong Learning - Session 3
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||1 x 2000 word essay submitted two weeks after the end of teaching
||Detailed written feedback, via VLE, is given on an optional practice essay, or essay plan, submitted in week six. The final 2000 word assessment (worth 100% of mark), on which detailed written feedback is provided, is submitted at the end of the course . Learning outcomes are embedded within essay questions and tutor feedback. Tutors work closely with Personal Tutors to ensure support and advice is readily available to students. COL runs a series of workshops (essay-writing, referencing, time-management), open to any COL student.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of key themes in gender and sexuality studies and the central role of gender and sexuality in literary works;
- Identify past and current attitudes toward particular aspects of gender and sexuality through literary representations, identifying ways in which debates regarding gender roles and sexual norms have been constructed;
- Apply concepts of gender and sexuality in analysing literary texts, and communicate and express ideas referring to these terms;
- Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently; by locating, evaluating and referring to scholarly sources;
- Evaluate texts through close reading, identifying literary techniques and devices using recognized terminology.
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (1601)
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)
Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982)
Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues (1993)
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (1979)
Tony Kushner, Angels in America part 1 (1991)
Chinelo Okparanta, Under the Udala Trees (2016)
Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer (film, 2018)
Azuah, Unoma (ed.). Blessed Body: The Secret Lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Nigerians. CookingPot Publishing, 2016.
Barker, Meg-John and Jules Scheele. Queer: A Graphic History. London: Icon Books, 2016.
Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. London: Vintage, 1997 .
Blank, Hanne. Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality. Boston: Beacon Press, 2012.
Bornstein, Kate. Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge, 1990.
Colebrook, Claire. Gender. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Connell, Raewyn W. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005 (2nd ed).
Cruikshank, Margaret, ed. Lesbian Studies. New York: The Feminist Press, 1982.
Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality, vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge. London: Penguin, 1998 .
Halberstam, Judith Jack. Female Masculinity. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1998.
Halberstam, Judith Jack. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: New York UP, 2005.
Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs and Women. New York: Routledge, 1991.
Hemmings, Clare. Bisexual Spaces: A Geography of Gender and Sexuality. New York: Routledge, 2002.
hooks, bell. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2000 .
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley: Crossing Press, 2007 .
Manon, Madhavi. Shakesqueer: A Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2011.
Martin, Karen and Makhosazana Xaba (eds). Queer Africa. Selected Stories. Oxford: New Internationalist, 2018.
Serano, Julia. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. New York: Seal Press, 2007.
Sullivan, Nikki. A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. New York: New York UP, 2003
Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. London: Penguin, 2000 .
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Confidence in discussing texts
Ability to articulate knowledge and arguments coherently
Ability to assess secondary material
|Course organiser||Mr Douglas Dougan
|Course secretary||Ms Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855