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Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory II

Queer Theory

Banana and eggplant

The field of queer theory is a site of hotly contested concepts and politics. Our course explores this hotbed of debate: both the (canonical) history of queer theory’s development as well as its current state. Many theorists grapple with both the definition and agenda of the concept, “queer.” Our course will continue this difficult work by exploring queer theory through a variety of splits: between identity politics and a desire to undo identity, between the masculine and feminine, between psychoanalytic theory and activism. From these ambivalences about how to position “queer” politics, we will explore how the term is situated in relation to a number of conceptual contexts: namely, the drive, discourse, and commodity culture. While, for some scholars, queer theory is an object to think about, for others, it is an object to think with. Finally, we will explore queer theory’s relationship to literary study. Course readings, class discussions, and assignments will train students to articulate and develop difficult and flexible concepts both orally and in writing. Since this is an upper level theory course, it is highly recommended for students to have previous exposure to critical and literary theory.


Assessments consist of:

  • Essays
  • Attendance and participation
  • Presentation
  • Exam

*Subject to change*


  • ENGL 200
  • ENGL 290

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.