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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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3. Queering the English Core: Middlesex and Queer Pedagogy (Juliane Römhild / Damien Barlow / Karyn Lehner)

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3. Queering the English Core: Middlesex and Queer Pedagogy

JULIANE RÖMHILD, DAMIEN BARLOW, AND KARYN LEHNER

Introduction

In 2015, Damien Barlow and Juliane Römhild designed a comprehensive English first-year unit under the auspicious title Death, Pleasure, & the Literary Imagination (DPL) at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. As a broad introduction to literary studies, we decided to teach texts from a number of genres through the lens of current critical frameworks in conjunction with key terms in literary studies. Our exploration of pleasure has led us to include a range of texts discussed in the context of queer and gender criticism: Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Katherine Mansfield’s “Bliss,” Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion and others. One of the most popular modules of this subject is on Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex (2002), a novel with a host of characters whose bodies, desires and relationships cannot be subsumed within the narrow band of heteronormativity. It includes incestuous grandparents, a lesbian aunt, an androgynous girlfriend and, of course, an intersex protagonist who “was born twice: first, as a baby girl, … and then again, as a teenage boy” (3). By pairing Middlesex with the chapters “Queer” and “Postmodernism” in Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle’s An Introduction to Literature, Criticism, and Theory (2016), we explore issues in queer studies as represented in the text and also invite students to attempt a queer reading...

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