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Curricular Innovations

LGBTQ Literatures and the New English Studies

Edited By William P. Banks and John Pruitt

Where others have explored the teaching of LGBTQ literature courses, Curricular Innovations: LGBTQ Literatures and the New English Studies explores the impact that queer writers and their works are having across the broader undergraduate curriculum of English departments, as well as beyond those department spaces. While courses that focus on queer texts provide more space for students to think about the complexities of queer lives, this book breaks out of the specialized LGBTQ classroom to consider how we might also restructure and reframe a diverse set of undergraduate courses by paying attention to the contributions that LGBTQ writers make. Beyond simply including a text or two to represent "difference," contributors to this volume take a more structural approach in order to demonstrate ways of theming or designing courses around language, desire, and sexuality. They also demonstrate what happens when queer texts are given freedom to shape other classroom spaces, discussions, and reading/writing practices. This collection offers a practical intervention into conversations about the purposes and places of LGBTQ literatures by making good on the challenges that queer theories have posed to higher education over the last forty years.

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2. Contingently Queer: Decolonizing and Unsettling the Boundaries of Identitarian-Based Literatures (Tom Sarmiento)


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2. Contingently Queer: Decolonizing and Unsettling the Boundaries of Identitarian-Based Literatures


“Well, this is a weird story,” one of my students remarked as we were discussing Reflections in a Golden Eye in my “Fiction into Film” class. Wanting to unpack such an anticipated reaction, I asked, “What is weird about it?” Students’ responses ranged from “I don’t get what the story’s supposed to be about,” to “Why did Alison cut off her nipples?” to “Private Williams is so creepy,” to “I find Anacleto odd,” to “What’s up with Penderton?” Although my students did not explicitly articulate it, they were in essence describing the queerness of Carson McCullers’ Southern Gothic novel. I chose to teach the text since it had a Filipino character (Anacleto) as well as a queer subtext, which, when combined, is a rarity for American fiction adapted into film. The novel’s film adaptation by director John Huston and starring Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando also provided rich material to analyze adaptation germane to the course. Especially in response to the contemporary proliferation of film adaptations based on popular young adult novels students are more likely accustomed to, I wanted to expose them to a wider range of both stories and visual aesthetics. Nevertheless, the course context in which I taught this text not only exposed students to a queer subculture most were unfamiliar with, but also challenged me to rethink the place of queer literature....

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