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QUEER IDENTITY AND POPULAR CULTURE / MCC-UE 1408
Spring 2014 / MW 3:30-4:45 / Silver 500
Prof. Laura Portwood-Stacer, PhD

Prof’s Email: lps2@nyu.edu / Twitter: @lportwoodstacer
Office: 239 Greene St, 8th Floor
Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays 1-3pm, Tuesdays 1-3pm via Google Chat
Course Website: qipc2014.wordpress.com

Course Description

In this course, we will explore queerness as identity, practice, theory, and politics, all through the lens of popular culture. Our approach will be grounded in theories, methods, and texts of communication and media studies, thus it will serve as a complement to other queer theory and culture courses offered across the university. After a brief introduction to the concept of “queer,” we will cover four major themes in the relationship between queerness and popular culture: 1) media representation of queer people and desires; 2) queer consumption practices of media texts; 3) the formation of queer community through mediated communication; and 4) the construction of queer identity through popular discourse. Readings will include both theoretical texts and case studies both historical and contemporary. Students will complete the course with a critical understanding of what it means to be and “do” queer in contemporary culture. Students will also be equipped to bring queer analytical tools to their everyday and professional encounters with popular culture.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to

-Define queer and explain queer theory’s contributions to our understanding of gender, sexuality, and communication

-Recognize, interpret, and critique mediated representations of queer bodies and identities

-Perform queer readings of popular cultural texts and understand queer audiences’ motivations for doing so

-Explain the relationship between media texts and technologies and queer community formation

-Recognize ways in which identity is socially constructed and performed

-Question hegemonic understandings of normalness, gender, and sexuality

Required Texts

Most required readings will be provided as PDFs during the first week of the term. Additional readings will be provided as needed.

We will have several in-class screenings of media texts. If you need to miss class, you are still responsible for finding out about the screenings and making them up. Make plans to share notes with classmates if you miss lectures or screenings.

Assignments

Theory Homework 1 50 points 10% of final grade
Media Analysis 150 points 30% of final grade
Theory Homework 2 50 points 10% of final grade
Research Project 200 points 40% of final grade
Attendance/Participation 50 points 10% of final grade

Theory Homeworks

These assignments will ask you to demonstrate your comprehension of the readings and central theoretical concepts of the course. You will be evaluated on your effort to engage with the course theories and your apparent level of understanding.

Media Analysis

This assignment will ask you to apply the analytical tools learned in class to a media/cultural object of your choice. Your written critical analysis will be posted to the class website and will be supplemented by images and hyperlinks that you curate.

Research Project

In this assignment, you will have a choice of formats and topics (to be discussed in class). You will conduct original research and/or creative production, and synthesize what you have learned from the course material to help contextualize your work.  Again, your work will be posted to the course website. You may choose to work collaboratively with another student on this project.