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ENGLISH 3AA3 Theories:Gender&Sexuality

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Nadine Attewell


Office: Chester New Hall 311

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24492

Office Hours: Mondays 1 - 3.20 pm

Course Objectives:

This course

1) introduces students to key aspects of twentieth-and twenty-first century thinking about gender and sexuality;

2) highlights intersections between a variety of discourses of identity, including discourses of gender, sexuality, class, race, and Indigeneity;

3) develops students’ confidence in working with theory to think about phenomena in the world, including cultural artifacts;

4) develops students’ analytical skills by challenging students to engage in close reading and critical thinking;

5) gives students the opportunity to improve their writing skills, by offering guidance in the art of writing clear, well-argued, and well-supported essays, as well as substantive feedback on written assignments;

6) and challenges students to exercise curiosity about the world they inhabit, to ask questions about what they don’t know, and perhaps more importantly, to ask questions about what they think they do know.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The following texts are available for purchase from the Campus Store – 

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: An Introduction (1976)

Jackie Kay, Trumpet (1998)

Tomson Highway, Kiss of the Fur Queen (1999)

– as is a coursepack of required readings. We will also watch the films Paris is Burning (1990; dir. Jennie Livingston) and The Watermelon Woman (1996; dir. Cheryl Dunye) – the latter will be shown in class. Please consult the syllabus for details.

Method of Assessment:

1. Regular attendance and in-class engagement are worth 10% of your final grade. This class is about critical inquiry. That is, it’s about asking and attempting to answer interesting questions raised by texts. Class participation is therefore important, since class is the place to raise comprehension questions, as well as to demonstrate and develop your critical thinking and speaking abilities. Tutorials, in particular, depend upon your informed and active participation. Active in-class engagement includes contributing to discussion with questions and comments. It is therefore imperative that you not only attend class and complete the readings by the beginning of the week in which they are assigned, but that you do so with care, attention, and engagement. If you are anxious about speaking in public, prepare something, however brief, to say. Your participation grade will largely depend upon your performance in tutorial. However, you will also be invited to participate in discussion during the lecture period, and we will occasionally form smaller discussion groups in order to vary the opportunities for interaction. Please come to all class meetings prepared to contribute thoughtfully and respectfully.

2. Short assignment: to give you practice in rigorously engaging with the critical and theoretical readings, you will complete a short assignment early in the semester worth 10% of your final grade. You will also have the opportunity to submit an optional second short assignment later in the semester, to bolster your mark on the first. For more information about the mandatory and optional short assignments, please see the handout I’ve posted to A2L.

3. Essays: you will write two formal essays over the course of the semester. The first, due February 27 in class, is an essay of five pages (double-spaced; worth 20%); the other, due April 3 in class, is an essay of eight pages (double-spaced; worth 30%). Each should develop and offer detailed support for a critical thesis in response to one of a set of assigned questions (to be posted on A2L). You will receive letter grades and substantive feedback for each of your papers.

4. Exams: in April, you will write a final exam worth 30% of your grade.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignments are due in lecture during the weeks indicated. Late assignments will be penalized two percentage points per day (including weekends) except where permission has been granted for late submission. Students are expected to retain a copy of each essay they submit. Please check the detailed late policy posted on the course website for more information.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

January 9                   Introductions

January 16                 Names, Terms, Definitions

                                   Thomas Laqueur, “Of Language and the Flesh” (CP)

                                   Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex” (CP)

                                   Judith Butler, “‘Women’ as the Subject of Feminism” (CP)

January 23                 Talking Sex

                                   Michel Foucault, from The History of Sexuality (Parts 1 and 2)

January 30                 Bodies, Identities, and the Work of Performance (I)

                                   Judith Butler, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” (CP)

                                   Judith Butler, from “Critically Queer” (18-21) (CP)

                                   Jackie Kay, Trumpet (“House and Home” – “The Funeral Director”)

February 6                  Bodies, Identities, and the Work of Performance (II)

                                   Jackie Kay, Trumpet (complete)

                                   Short Assignment due

February 13                Bodies, Identities, and the Work of Performance (III)

                                   Jennie Livingston (dir.), Paris is Burning [watch on your own]

                                   bell hooks, “Is Paris Burning?” (CP)

                                   Judith Butler, “Gender is Burning” (CP)

                                   Viviane Namaste, from Invisible Lives (CP)

February 20                Reading Week

February 27                Knowing Trans*, Being Trans*, Working Trans*

                                   Ivan Coyote, “The Rest of My Chest” (CP)

                                   Trish Salah, “Post Script: itinerary of a book/anxiety of influence” (CP)

                                   Jay Prosser, “Changing Bodies, Changing Narratives” (CP)             

                                   Bobby Jean Noble, “Our Bodies Are Not Ourselves” (CP)

                                   Essay 1 due

March 6                      Straightening Devices: Patriarchy, Heteronormativity, Colonialism (I)

                                   Scott Morgensen, from “Settler Homonationalism” (111-117) (CP)

                                   Quo-Li Driskill et al., “Queer Indigenous Studies” (CP)

                                   Tomson Highway, Kiss of the Fur Queen

March 13                    Straightening Devices: Patriarchy, Heteronormativity, Colonialism (II)

                                   Tomson Highway, Kiss of the Fur Queen

                                   Make-up Short Assignment due

March 20                    Feminism in Global Circulation: Under Western Eyes?

                                   Adrienne Rich, “Notes Toward a Politics of Location” (CP)

                                   Saba Mahmood, from “The Subject of Freedom” (1-17) (CP)

                                   Judith Butler, “Sexual Politics, Torture, and Time” (CP)

March 27                    Queer Pasts, Queer Futures: Knowing Otherwise:  (I)

                                   Cheryl Dunye, dir., The Watermelon Woman [in-class viewing]

                                   Ann Cvetkovich, from An Archive of Feelings (CP)

April 3                         Queer Pasts, Queer Futures: Knowing Otherwise (II)

                                   Cheryl Dunye, dir., The Watermelon Woman

                                   Essay 2 due