Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 2, Issue 1
fall 2011
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editor, John-Albert Moseley
Layout Design: Nick Appleby

WGSS 319a - Queer Mobilities

Cody Hooks '13

How could a single syllabus possibly contain readings on the history of settler colonialism, immigration and asylum law, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, and men who have sex with other men at roadside stops in the postwar South? Armed with the aim to explore the critical space between queer studies and mobility studies, our class “Queer Mobilities” examines the linkages between these different forms of movement. Specifically, we ask how queer folk interact with the space around them; how communities are formed, displaced, and dissolved; and how seemingly immobile – and often unseen – lives contribute to a complex queer imaginary. But more than describing trends and spaces, we’re constantly troubling normal narratives of “coming out.” We’re also investigating how larger cultural contexts structure the ways in which racially and economically marginalized queers –Latina butch lesbians, HIV-positive Native American gay men, and black transgender activists working to abolish prisons – can and cannot move within and across national borders.

This intimate seminar is a testament to Professor Liz Montegary’s dedication to rigorous discussion and innovative thought. The syllabus brings together artists, activists, and academics who take an intersectional approach to studying queerness and mobilities. We’ve read canonical lesbian, gay, and queer studies texts as well as cutting-edge projects from queer of color scholars, and we’ve examined blogs, literature, and the work of artists and activists, including the installation art of New York-based mónica enríquez-enríquez (who gave a guest lecture and screening in our class).

Throughout the semester, each student leads one class discussion, where they draw connections across the readings, share interesting media related to the topic, and push our conversations in new directions. As a triumphant finale, each one of us is doing a research project that critically engages with some form of queer culture--from ‘Dykes on Bicycles’ -  ride at NYC Pride parade to the circulation of hip hop artist Lil B’s music to the use of mobile communication technologies in Santo Tomas, El Salvador. The projects are not only our way of synthesizing many of the themes from the course, but also a means to challenge ourselves as archivists, researchers, ethnographers, and theorists by pushing our own scholarship into creative realms.

Everyday, small movements--from place to place, mental space to mental space-- are taken for granted.  Our class is learning to use queer studies as a way to think critically about mobilities and immobilities in a transnational world.
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