ENGL 3300 Gay and Lesbian Literature

Fall 1997 7-8:20 PM Mon/Wed

To the Schedule of Readings and Assignments

course content, method of evaluation, goals: We may be sure that there is something called "gay and lesbian literature." There are bookstores that sell gay and lesbian books, book reviews and other media that examine those books, and an academic field of gay and lesbian studies. But it can be hard to define the genre precisely. Does it mean "literature by gay or lesbian authors"? Or does it mean "literature that treats gay and lesbian themes and characters"? Or perhaps "literature that gay and lesbian people read"? Does "literature," include film, non-fiction, pulp paperbacks, TV, and performance art? And do gay men share concerns with lesbians, or are their writings and reading styles incompatible?

One way of studying these issues is to read texts that fit one or more definitions of "gay and lesbian literature," and to meet in an academic seminar to discuss them. The reading list for Gay and Lesbian Literature includes two major categories: classics of a gay "canon" (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Confessions of a Mask, The Well of Loneliness, and The Dream of a Common Language), and contemporary books that chart the current nature and direction of gay and lesbian writing (Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, poems by Audre Lorde, works by Cherrie Moraga, memoirs by Paul Monette, Funny Boy, and Barrel Fever).

By the end of the semester students who have successfully completed the assignments and participated fully in the seminar discussions should be able to: write a brief critical assessment of a gay or lesbian text, discuss the issues raised in the above course description from an informed and critical perspective, and have a greater understanding of gay and lesbian literature as a historical genre and a developing form of writing at the present time.

Students' progress toward these goals will be assessed by their performance on ten out-of-class papers (about three pages apiece), and on a slightly longer final paper (about 5-6 pages). Each paper including the final will be given a simple yes-or-no assessment, based on whether in my judgment it makes a critical contribution to the seminar discussion; the final grade will be based on a cumulative total of acceptable papers.

required texts: Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness (Doubleday, paper); Audre Lorde, Undersong: Chosen Poems, Old and New (Norton, paper); Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask (New Directions, paper); Paul Monette, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (Avon, paper); Cherrie Moraga, The Last Generation: Poetry and Prose (South End Press, paper); Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language (Norton, paper); David Sedaris, Barrel Fever (Little, paper); Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy (Morrow, cloth); Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Dover, paper); Jeannette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Atlantic Monthly Press, paper)

attendance is mandatory; roll will be taken. You may miss two meetings without penalty, further missed classes can lower your grade; see below.

assignments: Ten three-page papers, due on the Mondays indicated below. These papers may be brought to the English Department Office (203 Carlisle), or to my office (618 Carlisle), or e-mailed to tmorris@utarlg.uta.edu no later than 8:30 PM on the given Monday. One 5-6 page final paper, to be brought to class on the final exam date (Wed 10 December, 8:15-10:45 PM); one ungraded paper to be brought to class on Wednesday 3 September.

grading: Your grade in this course will be determined by a cumulative point system. 12 points means an A for the course, 11 means a B, 10 means a C, and 9 means a D; less than 9 points means failure.

You earn points by making * grades on papers. Each of the ten 3-page papers can earn one *; the final paper can earn one or two *s. (Any given paper can also fail to earn a *). No paper will be accepted late, or handwritten, or if it is irrelevant to the topic, or if it doesn't make sense; or if it simply summarizes the reading. Such papers will fail to earn *s; however, papers that make a clear critical argument will earn the * grade. The final paper can earn two *s if it is in my judgment an excellent critical examination of the semester's work; see below.

The ten shorter papers can be on any topic directly connected to the reading for the week indicated. The final paper must be an attempt to assess the questions raised in the "course content" section of the syllabus, above; based on your reading and analysis of the course material, what is your judgment of "gay and lesbian" literature, its current status, its problems, as an area of academic study? The paper must be a synthetic look at the course content and should also raise issues you'd like to study further. Competent work on this assignment will merit one *; excellent work will merit two *s.

You lose points by missing class. Your first two absences are free; each subsequent absence costs a grade point. Except for religious holidays and absences officially excused by the University, no absence will be excused; if work, illness, or other tragedy prevents you from coming to class and contributing, you've simply had the misfortune to have your semester affected negatively by bad things or other commitments. The seminar nature of our discussion meetings means that the course "happens" not just in the readings and papers but also in active spaeking and listening in class, hence these stringent attendance requirements.

I consider this next point important enough to make on the syllabus: I think that a B is a good grade for an undergraduate course. It will be difficult to complete all the course components successfully; I think that the grade of A should indicate excellence rather than mere completion of the course.

drop policy: drop before final drop date (14 November) guarantees W for the course; drop after that is against university rules. UTA instructors may not drop students for any reason.

plagiarism policy: See the 1995-97 Catalogue, page 36. All work you submit must be your own.

disability policy: see pp. 39-40 of the 1995-97 Catalogue and call the Office of Students with Disabilities for more information (272-3364).


M 25 August: syllabus and procedures

W 27 August: introductory lecture

M 1 September: No Class meeting (Labor Day)

W 3 September: paper #0 due. This is an ungraded assignment and need not be typed. Just bring to class 2-3 pages about your preconceptions and hopes for the semester: why you took the course, what you imagine its purpose to be, your reactions to the 27 August lecture. We'll spend some time reading these papers and talking about our preconceptions, and introducing ourselves.

M 8 September: paper #1 due. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Doran Gray

W 10 September: discuss paper #1 (Wilde)

M 15 September: paper #2 due. Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness

W 17 September: discuss paper #2 (Hall)

M 22 September: paper #3 due. Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask

W 24 September: discuss paper #3 (Mishima)

M 29 September: paper #4 due: Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language

W 1 October: discuss paper #4 (Rich)

M 6 October: no class meeting

W 8 October: no class meeting

M 13 October: paper #5 due: Audre Lorde, Undersong

W 15 October: discuss paper #5 (Lorde)

M 20 October: paper #6 due: Paul Monette, Borrowed Time

W 22 October: discuss paper #6 (Monette)

M 27 October: paper #7 due: Cherrie Moraga, The Last Generation

W 29 October: discuss paper #7 (Moraga)

M 3 November: paper #8 due: Jeannette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

W 5 November: discuss paper #8 (Winterson)

M 10 November: paper #9 due: Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy

W 12 November: discuss paper #9 (Selvadurai)

F 14 November: last day to drop

M 17 November: paper #10 due: David Sedaris, Barrel Fever

W 19 November: discuss paper #10 (Sedaris)

--no class till 10 December--

W 10 December: Final Exam Meeting; paper #11 due: a 5-6 page reflection on and critical synthesis of the semester's work. We'll meet from 8:15 till 10:45 PM in our regular classroom to hold a final seminar meeting and discuss these papers.