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Unit information: Queer Writing in 2020/21

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Unit name Queer Writing
Unit code ENGL20049
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Andrew Blades
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will introduce students to a range of ‘queer’ writings, including poetry, plays, novels and essays. It will consider the term ‘queer’ and its histories, and explore how it has been theorized by examining its intersections with other literary and social theories. It will ask how far it is possible to read any text ‘queerly’, consider how queer writing deals with questions of influence and canon, and how it might relate to other understandings of human sexuality. It will also locate queer writing in specific historical contexts, such as the World Wars, urbanization, (de)criminalization, and the AIDS epidemic, before considering what lies beyond: has the queer movement in literature achieved its aims, and might we even be ‘post-queer’?

Students will be given the opportunity to submit a draft or outline of their final, summative essay of up to 1,500 words and to receive feedback on this.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have (1) developed a detailed knowledge of different queer literatures; (2) developed a critical understanding of the political, social and cultural contexts of twentieth-century queer writing; (3) acquired an understanding of major critical and theoretical approaches; (4) demonstrated their ability to analyse and compare queer writing from different historical periods and across genres; (5) strengthened their skills in academic writing, argumentation, and evaluation of evidence from primary texts and critical literature.

Teaching details

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 3000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Tony Kushner, Angels in America (London: Nick Hern, 1993)

Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of my Name (London: Pandora, 1996)

Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy (London: Vintage, 1995)

Nikki Sullivan, A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2003)

Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the only fruit (London: Vintage, 2009)

Virginia Woolf, Orlando (Oxford: OUP, 2008)