Gay Men and Lesbians in United States History
Professor Unger, Spring 2002
Office: O’Connor #17
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 1:30-2:30, and by appointment
Why is it important for both homosexual and heterosexual Americans to understand the gay and lesbian history of our nation?
“If we do not know our own history, we are doomed to live it as though it were our private fate.” Hannah Arendt, political theorist
This course will examine the incredibly amorphous topic of homosexuality in American history. What is homosexuality? Did it exist prior to modern industrialization and urbanization? What’s the difference between homosexual acts and homosexuality? What’s the relationship between gay and lesbian history, Queer History, and Queer Theory?
We will trace the history of same-sex desire from the pre-Columbian period to the present within the larger, rich history of the changing social, economic, political, and intellectual life within the United States. Issues of gender, race, class, geographic setting, and ethnicity will merit appropriate attention. Through a variety of primary and secondary sources, we will examine self-conceptions and self-identifications of gay men and lesbians as well as the constructs of homosexuality and the resultant prescribed roles. The course is designed to familiarize you with the some of the best current scholarship in the field and challenge you to think critically about the role of homosexuality in American history and society. To take full advantage of the lecture/discussion format, regular attendance and informed participation are of the essence.
Course requirements include a mid-term, a final, and a research paper.
Grades will be determined as follows:
Final Exam 35%
Research Paper 30%
I will provide a sample exam before the mid-term to show you the kind of questions to anticipate. The format will be a selection of essay questions. If you are uneasy about your in-class essay writing ability, I suggest that you write out answers to one or more of the sample questions (or questions from the discussion/study sheet) and I will be happy to go over your answer(s) with you individually before the exam. After the exam photocopies of “A” answers will be available in my office.
THREE REQUIRED BOOKS available at the student bookstore:
A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Love in America, Leila Rupp, 1999.
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America, Lillian Faderman, 1991.
Cures: A Gay Man’s Odyssey, Martin Duberman, 1991.
There are a number of student guides to the study of history that offer suggestions on note taking, writing reviews, studying, etc. If you think one might prove helpful to you, I recommend Jules R. Benjamin’s A Student’s Guide to History, 8th edition. A copy has been placed on reserve in Orradre or you can buy one.
You are also required to read all the articles compiled for you in the class packet, which were selected from the following books:
Queer Theory, Annamarie Jagose, 1996.
Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology, Will Roscoe, ed., 1988.
Major Problems in the History of Sexuality, Kathy Peiss, ed., 2002.
The Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality in Black Communities, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., 2000.
Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr., eds., 1989.
Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II, Allan Berube, 1990.
Becoming Visible: A Reader in Gay and Lesbian Studies, Kevin Jennings, ed., 1994.
Asian American Sexualities: Dimensions of the Gay and Lesbian Experience, Russell Leong, ed., 1996.
Modern American Queer History, Allida M. Black, ed., 2001.
We will also see and discuss in class three films:
The Celluloid Closet
All readings are to be completed BY the date listed on the syllabus. This means you are to have completed ALL the readings listed by that date, to have thought about them, and to be prepared to provide meaningful commentary and/or questions. The discussion/study questions are designed to aid you in optimal use of the material.
For the readings from the class packet: The numbers in brackets refer to the hand written page number at the bottom right hand corner of each page in the packet.
3 Introduction to course
Introduction to DESIRED PAST, pp. ix-11.
Jogose, reading from QUEER THEORY [pp. 1-12]
10 Pre-Columbian America:
DESIRED PAST, pp. 12-27
reading from LIVING THE SPIRIT “Sex/Gender Systems in Native North
America” [pp. 13-21]
reading from THE GREATEST TABOO “Hearing Voices” [pp. 22-31]
First hour of film CELLULOID CLOSET
15 Pre-Columbian America continued plus Colonial America:
DESIRED PAST pp. 27-36
plus reading by Godbeer, “Sodomy in Colonial New England” [pp. 32-39]
17 Homosexuality and Enslavement:
reading from The GREATEST TABOO “Rereading Voices from the Past” [pp. 40-49]
19 Industrializing America:
DESIRED PAST pp. 32-72
reading from HIDDEN FROM HISTORY “She Even Chewed Tobacco” [pp. 50-57]
24 Sexual Transformation at Turn of the Century Through the 1920s:
DESIRED PAST pp. 73-123
reading “Mabel Hampton Recalls” [pp. 58-59]
26 1920s (continued) and 1930s:
DESIRED PAST pp. 123-139
ODD GIRLS AND TWILIGHT LOVERS pp. 93-117
First 20 minutes of film BEFORE STONEWALL. plus World War II:
DESIRED PAST pp. 130-169
readings from COMING OUT UNDER FIRE, [pp. 60-75]
ODD GIRLS AND TWILIGHT LOVERS pp. 118-125
Continued plus 15 minutes of film BEFORE STONEWALL
MIDTERM—covers all readings, lectures, film, and discussions since April 3
6 Postwar Activism/Cold War:
ODD GIRLS AND TWILIGHT OVERS pp. 125-38
Reading from COMING OUT UNDER FIRE “Legacy of War” [pp. 76-88]
reading from BECOMING VISIBLE “The Trouble With Harry” [pp. 89-98]
10 McCarthyism and Aftermath
DESIRED PAST pp. 140-153
ODD GIRLS AND TWILIGHT LOVERS pp. 139-187
CURES, Prologue-p. 62
CURES pp. 63-158
final 55 minutes of BEFORE STONEWALL
ODD GIRLS AND TWILIGHT LOVERS pp. 188-214
CURES pp. 153-301
FINAL DAY TO HAND IN RESEARCH PAPER DRAFTS (OPTIONAL!!)
Memorial Day—no classes!!
29 The 1980s:
DESIRED PAST pp. 191-199
ODD GIRLS AND TWILIGHT LOVERS pp. 246-292
First 35 minutes of film AFTER STONEWALL
FINAL DUE DATE FOR RESEARCH PAPERS (and be sure your readings are done too!)
31 AIDS and Issues Beyond
ODD GIRLS AND TWILIGHT LOVERS pp. 292-99
reading from GREATEST TABOO “Homophobia in Black Communities” [pp. 99-103]
readings from ASIAN AMERICAN SEXUALITIES
“Asian American Lesbian” [pp. 104-106]
and “In Our Own Way” [pp. 107-111]
Final 50 minutes of film AFTER STONEWALL
ODD GIRLS AND TWILIGHT LOVERS pp. 299-308
Final 40 minutes of film CELLULOID CLOSET
reading from MODERN AMERICAN QUEER HISTORY
“Where are we Now?” [pp. 112-119]
Continued, plus evaluations and review
?? Final exam–covers all readings, lectures, film, and discussions since May 6
Both exams will be in essay form. I will be giving you a sample exam before the mid-term so you can see exactly what to expect. If you are uneasy about your essay writing ability, here is a suggestion: Prepare one or two answers from the sample exam or the study/discussion questions before the exam. I will gladly go over your essay with you individually and show you how to improve. After both exams I will make photocopies of the best answers available for reading in my office. Students have found these samples enormously helpful. Let me know of anything else you might think of to help you do your best.
If you have dyslexia or any other learning or testing disability, please let me know at the beginning of the quarter so that we can make appropriate arrangements.
Chit-chatting and sleeping in class: DON’T!!!! Making comments to fellow classmates is very distracting to others (especially me). The class only lasts 65 minutes–please wait until it is over to talk to your friends. If you missed a phrase or concept, please ask me, not your neighbor. If you feel yourself falling asleep in class, please get up, go home, and take a nap. You cannot learn anything while you are asleep and you’ll rest better in bed. Otherwise, TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE and plan to stay in your seat the entire 65 minutes.
Please do not hesitate to ask me questions or make comments openly during class. If you don’t understand something (whether from the book or a lecture) chances are excellent that others are also confused and could benefit from clarification. Your comments (not just questions) are also welcome and are valued as significant contributions. Some of the greatest teaching comes from in-class student comments. And as an added bonus, class participation does constitute 10% of your grade.
Finally—I realize that this course requires a great deal of effort. I give you the words of Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks’s character in A League of Their Own), who is responding to the resignation of his star baseball player because “it just got too hard”: “It’s SUPPOSED to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it. The ‘hard’ makes it great.”
This course, including the reading packet, was funded by the Center for Multicultural Learning “Building Partnerships for Diversity Grant.”
If you have appropriate syllabi, please contact CLGH chair Karen Krahulik at Karen_Krahulik@brown.edu.