Gay and Lesbian Literature

ENGL 360: Gay and Lesbian Literature
Spring 2005
Professor: Dr. Niko Endres Office: Cherry 131A
Email: Hours _______________

Course Objectives

This semester we will be reading and analyzing a number of “gay” and “lesbian” texts from the past to the present, from Biblical and Homeric times to contemporary fiction, from Plato to NATO, in a wide variety of genre (philosophical dialogue, novel, drama, poetry, short story…) and with interdisciplinary emphasis (art, philosophy, music, natural sciences…). Throughout the semester, we will challenge and define the concepts of sex and gender, masculinities and feminism, critical theory and cultural constructionism, diversity and homophobia, oppression and empowerment, acquiescence and resistance, in a both global and historical context. With the help of secondary literature and current “queer” scholarship, we will not only examine the various movements from which these works come but also explore different methods of literary analysis in order to further our understanding of these texts. At the end of the semester, we will have broadened our insight into gay men’s and lesbian women’s awareness of gender dynamics, both synchronically and diachronically.


Plato, Symposium and Phaedrus (Hackett)
Petronius, Satyricon (Hackett)
Christopher Marlowe, Edward II (Oxford)
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Norton)
Gore Vidal, The City and the Pillar (Vintage)
Thomas Mann, Death in Venice (Norton)
E. M. Forster, Maurice (Norton)
Mary Renault, The Persian Boy (Vintage)
Sappho, The Love Songs (Signet)
Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness (Anchor)
Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle (Bantam)

Grade Distribution

Participation 20%
Presentations 20%
Paper 1 15%
Paper 2 15%
Midterm 15%
Final Exam 15%

Class Participation

As this is primarily a discussion class, participation is essential and imperative. You will be graded daily on participation; therefore, it is very important that you not only come to class, but also that you participate actively. Come to class prepared to ask questions, to challenge assumptions, and to discuss your ideas. Any more than three absences will significantly lower your participation grade. Participation also includes keeping up with the reading assignments.

Group Work and Team Teaching

You will be divided into groups that remain the same throughout the semester. Your group will be your most important resource, will give class presentations, and will team-teach a class. My role will be “facilitator,” to provide your group with the tools you need to work well. I expect these presentations to be well rehearsed, polished in both content and delivery, and accompanied by handouts – where appropriate and necessary. Needless to say, reading from a script is annoying to the class and does not count. Your group may opt for a formal approach or something interactive, as long as the presentation advances active learning.


Preferably, you come up with your own topics, since your engagement with a possible paper topic shows that you have already thought critically about one or more texts on the syllabus. The papers can be about anything related to the books we will be reading (critical, analytical, creative, speculative, theoretical – you name it). The only stipulation for the papers is that they address at least one work on the syllabus. Please write only your student ID on the paper, not your name. There will be no late papers. One further remark: I expect your papers to be stylistically and grammatically flawless. I will not hesitate to take off one letter grade or more for blatant errors. Never turn in a paper that you have not proofread!

Women’s Studies

This course counts as an elective in the Women’s Studies minor. Western has a strong and growing Women’s Studies program, which offers courses that are cross-listed in several other departments. Undergraduates can minor in Women’s Studies, and graduate students can earn a graduate certificate. Every semester the program sponsors several on-campus events, including films and speakers. Taking Women’s Studies courses and attending special events is a great way for both women and men to become part of a small, exciting community of interesting and intelligent people at the university. If you are interested in learning more about Women’s Studies at WKU, contact me, drop by Women’s Studies at 1532 State Street, or check out their website.

Computer Resources

A highly informative and easily navigable scholarly/academic encyclopedia is available from any computer terminal and does not require WKU affiliation to be accessed; it has a wealth of information (including several essays written by your instructor): GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Culture, ed. Claude J. Summers (Chicago: glbtq, 2003-), available at . Also helpful is Gay History and Literature: .

Day-by-Day Syllabus (Subject to Change)

Course Introduction and Policies


Plato, Symposium

Reports: Kenneth Dover, Greek Homosexuality; Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure; Documentary Symposium: Ladder of Love; Leonard Bernstein, Serenade


Petronius, Satyricon

Reports: Juvenal, Satires 2 and 9; Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars; T. K. Hubbard (ed.), Homosexuality in Greece and Rome; Craig Williams, Roman Homosexuality; Michel Foucault, The Care of the Self; Amy Richlin, “Not Before Homosexuality: The Materiality of the Cinaedus and the Roman Law against Love between Men”; Film Fellini Satyricon

Shakespeare, Sonnets; Paper 1 Due

Reports: Bruce Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s England; Joseph Pequigney, Such Is My Love: A Study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets; Paul Hammond, Figuring Sex Between Men from Shakespeare to Rochester; Michelangelo, Sonnets; Oscar Wilde, “The Portrait of Mr. W. H.”; Movie The Angelic Conversation


Christopher Marlowe, Edward II

Reports: Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England; Jonathan Goldberg (ed.), Queering the Renaissance; Paul Whitfield White (ed.), Marlowe, History, and Sexuality; Gregory Bredbeck, Sodomy and Interpretation: Marlowe to Milton; Kenneth Friedenreich et al. (eds.), ‘A Poet and a Filthy Play-maker’: New Essays on Christopher Marlowe; James Saslow, Ganymede in the Renaissance: Homosexuality in Art and Society; Movie Edward II


Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Reports: Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction; Walter Pater, “Conclusion” to Studies in the Renaissance and Marius the Epicurean; Epicurus; Lucretius; J. K. Huysmans, A Rebours; Théophile Gautier, Mademoiselle de Maupin; Decadent literature; Reviews of The Picture of Dorian Gray; Film Wilde


Gore Vidal, The City and the Pillar

Reports: Gore Vidal, Palimpsest, United States, and Views from a Window; Robert Corber, Homosexuality in Cold War America; Claude Summers, Gay Fictions: Wilde to Stonewall

Plato, Phaedrus

Reports: Greek homoerotic poetry; Plato, Laws


Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Reports: Euripides, The Bacchae; Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy; Friedrich Schiller, “Ode to Joy”; Ludwig van Beethoven, Ninth Symphony; Richard Wagner, The Ring of the Nibelung; Naomi Ritter, “Death in Venice and the Tradition of European Decadence”; Robert Tobin, “Why is Tadzio a Boy? Perspectives on Homoeroticism in Death in Venice”; Opera Benjamin Britten, Death in Venice; Films Morte a Venezia by Luchino Visconti (1971), Death in Venice, CA by P. David Ebersole (1994), Love and Death on Long Island by Richard Kwietniowski (1997), and Gods and Monsters by Bill Condon (1998)



E. M. Forster, Maurice

Reports: Robert Martin, “Edward Carpenter and the Double Structure of Maurice”; Robert Martin and George Piggford (eds.), Queer Forster; Benjamin Jowett (tr.), The Dialogues of Plato; Walt Whitman, “Calamus” of Leaves of Grass; Edward Carpenter; John Addington Symonds; Havelock Ellis; Christopher Isherwood; W. H. Auden; Film Maurice


Midterm Exam



Spring Break (no class)


Mary Renault, The Persian Boy

Reports: Homer, Iliad (Achilles and Patroclus); Virgil, Aeneid (Nisus and Euryalus); Mary Renault, The Charioteer; Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian; Kevin Kopelson, Love’s Litany: The Writing of Modern Homoerotics; Ruth Hoberman, Gendering Classicism: The Ancient World in Twentieth-Century Women’s Historical Fiction; David Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality; Film Farinelli: Il Castrato

Sappho, Poetry

Reports: Margaret Reynolds, The Sappho Companion and The Sappho History; Ruth Vanita, Sappho and the Virgin Mary; Jane McIntosh Snyder, Lesbian Desire in the Lyrics of Sappho; Page duBois, Sappho is Burning; John Winkler, The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece

Greek and Roman Lesbian Texts; Paper 2 Due

Reports: Bernadette Brooten, Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism; Judith Hallett, “Female Homoeroticism and the Denial of Roman Reality in Latin Literature”


Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness

Reports: Virginia Woolf, Orlando (book and/or movie); Sigmund Freud; Havelock Ellis; Karl Heinrich Ulrichs; Richard von Krafft-Ebing; Radclyffe Hall, Letters; Laura Doan and Jay Prosser (eds.), Palatable Poison: Critical Perspectives on The Well of Loneliness; Films Carrington and Priest

Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle

Reports: Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name; Lilian Faderman (ed.), Chloe plus Olivia: An Anthology of Lesbian Literature; Terry Castle (ed.), The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall



Final Exam: Thursday, May 5, 10:30-12:30