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courses@JLR: syllabus - Queer Film & Media
FILMSTUD 113/313 | TTh 11:00-12:15 + Screening T 7-10 | WINTER 2011


According to identity politics, visibility is a key tactic in the fight for societal acceptance and civil rights. But how is sexuality visible? We'll address this question by analyzing queer film and media, focusing primarily on explicit representations of GLBTQ characters and communities in North American cinema, television, and cyberculture since the 1970s. Through queer theory and criticism, we'll analyze the contested relationships between spectators and texts, identity and commodities, realism and fantasy, activism and entertainment, desire and politics.


On Tuesday's meetings, the professor will facilitate a discussion of the assigned readings. You are expected to come prepared to engage with the articles through questions and comments. This is a seminar style course, and there will not be formal lectures. Thursday classes are reserved for student presentations.

To foster experiential learning about media, we will be using a dedicated website [HERE] for all course work. This is a social network platform that supports blogs, wiki-like pages, bookmarks, threaded discussion, file uploads, status updates ("the wire"), live chat, and streaming videos. You are encouraged, but not required, to use the site to collect and discuss relevant material outside of class (above and beyond the stipulated homework).


You should commit to completing three substantial articles or around 90 pages of reading by Tuesday each week. The professor will distribute a "virtual reader" containing PDF copies of all course texts at the beginning of the term. You are responsible for bringing printed or electronic copies of the week's materials to class so you can refer to them. You may wish to find a program or app that allows you to annotate documents digitally.

Screenings are sourced from accessible DVDs and websites whenever possible, but not all videos will be available to "make up" outside of class. Most of the books and DVDs on the syllabus are on reserve in the Art library for you to consult (seehttp://library.stanford.edu/reserves/).


laptops and/or mobile devices are encouraged in class for note-taking and connected engagement. Productive uses of the web during class include: looking up terms and references, finding relevant examples to share, and checking the course website (if the internet is a distraction, you can disable your wireless access). You are expected to be aware of your own attention and stay focused on discussion.

attendance at all class and screening sessions is required. If you have a conflict or illness that causes you to miss class, contact the professor in advance. Grade penalties will be imposed for excessive unexcused absences.

late work is discouraged. Most assignments are integrated with class activities and thus do not accommodate lateness. If you are facing extenuating circumstances and need an extension, contact the professor in advance. Grade penalties will be imposed for unexcused late work.

plagiarism will not be tolerated. For more information on avoiding plagiarism and the rest of Stanford's Honor Code, seehttp://stanford.edu/dept/vpsa/judicialaffairs/avoiding/guide.htm

Students who have a disability which may necessitate an academic accommodation or the use of auxiliary aids and services in a class, must initiate the request with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC), located within the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). The SDRC will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend appropriate accommodations, and prepare a verification letter dated in the current academic term in which the request is being made. Please contact the SDRC as soon as possible; timely notice is needed to arrange for appropriate accommodations. The Office of Accessible Education is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone: 723-1066; TDD: 725-1067).


The course website will be your platform for archiving, sharing, and collaborating on critical work. Using both the group for our class and your account profile, you will develop a portfolio of material with defined components that reflects your progress. During the first week, you'll receive handouts with more detailed guidelines for these assignments (up to the final project). At the beginning of the term, the class will be divided into four groups (Z-Y-X-W) for staggered due dates.

dossiers two (Mon.-Thurs.)

Each week, one group will create a dossier of notes on and responses to the topic and materials. You can divide your labor so that someone covers each of the readings and the rest are responsible for discussing the screening. An individual entry should offer a brief synopsis of key points as well as some of your own observations and questions. Your group may also wish to include a summary of key terms and concepts, some highlights of points, disputes, or examples that came up in discussion, and links to relevant information or artifacts. All group members will post to one "page" that you can collectively edit.

W: 1/13 + 2/10 • X: 1/20 + 2/17 • Y: 1/27 + 2/24 • Z: 2/3 + 3/3

critical project

You will construct a portfolio of work toward an analysis based primarily on a particular week's topic. The handout offers more details, but in summary, its components include:

  • an outline (due Wednesday)
  • a class presentation with visual aids (Thursday)
  • a video of your class presentation (this can be private)
  • a self-assessment
  • an essay (due the following Thursday)

creative project

You will create one web-based multimedia project based primarily on a particular week's topic and engaging with the theoretical perspectives we have studied. This could be a video, a web page, an interactive work, or some combination of text, images, and/or audio. The professor will provide examples and individual guidance. You will also have access to the resources of Meyer multimedia lab. Keep in mind that this is not a production course, and your project doesn't have to be technically ambitious to succeed. You will be evaluated based on your incorporation of course material, the originality of your critical approach, and the effectiveness of its presentation. You'll receive an assessment and feedback from the professor as well as a response from at least one of your classmates.

groups divided in half - Y: 1/13 + 2/10 • Z: 1/20 + 2/17 • W: 1/27 + 2/24 • X: 2/3 + 3/3

final portfolio

You will construct a portfolio of work toward an analysis of the topic or artifact of your choice. The handout offers more details, but in summary, its components include:

  • a reflection on your previous work
  • an individual meeting with the professor
  • a collection of evidence or examples
  • a term paper 
  • a self-assessment

due March 18


You can refer to the handouts for more detailed criteria for evaluation. Rubrics for major assignments will be provided in advance. For other weekly and overall contributions, you will receive comments more informally by email, on the website, or in person.

final grade breakdown  

  • critical project – 25% (23 points)
  • creative project – 20%
  • final portfolio – 30%
  • dossiers + online participation – 15%
  • in-class + peer participation – 10%

grading scale (9 point system) 

  • 9/8 = A range
  • 7/6 = B range
  • 5/4 = C range
  • < 4 = unsatisfactory

projected final scale* (90 possible points) 

  • 86+ = A+
  • 81-86 = A
  • 75-80 = A-
  • 69-74 = B+
  • 63-68 = B
  • 57-62 = B-

(and so on) * I reserve the right to adjust this scale down (easier) if necessary.





  • Gross, Larry. "The Mediated Society." Up From Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America. Columbia University Press, 2001: 1-20.
  • Gamson, Joshua. "Must Identity Movements Self-destruct? A Queer Dilemma." Social Problems Vol. 42, No. 3 (1995): 390-407.


  • The Celluloid Closet (Epstein & Friedman, 1996) [102 min.]
  • Will and Grace, "Acting Out" {season 2, episode 14} (NBC, 1998-2006) [22 min.]



  • Walters, Suzanna. "The Love that Dares to Speak Its Name: The Explosion of Gay Visibility." All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America. University of Chicago Press, 2001: 3-29.
  • Dyer, Richard. "The Role of Stereotypes" (and selections TBD). The Matter of Images (2nd ed). Routledge, 2002:
  • White, Patricia. "Supporting 'Character'" (excerpt). unInvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability. Indiana University Press, 1999: 136-174.


  • The Killing of Sister George (Robert Aldrich, 1968) [138 min.]  
  • Glee, "Hairography" {season 1, episode 11} (Fox, 2009- ) [42 min.]
  • optional: The Boys in the Band (William Friedkin, 1970) [118 min.]



  • Foucault, Michel. "We 'Other Victorians'" + "The Incitement to Discourse." The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1. Vintage Books, 1990: 1-35.
  • Miller, D. A. "Anal Rope." Inside/Out. Ed. Diana Fuss. Routledge, 1991: 119-141.
  • Joyrich, Lynne. "Epistemology of the Console." Critical Inquiry 27, no. 3 (2001): 439-467.


  • Rope (Alfred Hitchcock, 1948) [80 min.]
  • Ellen, "The Puppy Episode" {season 4, episodes 22-23} (ABC, 1994-1998) [46 min.]
  • online videos (Infomania: That's Gay and What the Buck)
  • optional: An American Family Revisited (HBO/PBS, 1993) [60 min.]



  • Mercer, Kobena. "Dark and Lovely Too: Black Gay Men in Independent Film." Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video. Ed. Martha Gever, John Greyson, and Pratibha Parmar. Routledge, 1993: 238-256.
  • Cvetkovich, Ann. "In the Archives of Lesbian Feelings: Documentary and Popular Culture." Camera Obscura 17.1 (2002): 107-147.
  • Keeling, Kara. "'Joining the Lesbians': Cinematic Regimes of Black Lesbian Visibility." Black Queer Studies. Ed. E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson. Duke University Press, 2005: 213-227.
  • Rich, B. Ruby. "When Difference Is (More Than) Skin Deep." Queer Looks: 318-339.


  • The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1999) [90 min.]
  • Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs, 1989) [55 min.]
  • optional: Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien, 1988) [45 min.]



  • Stone, Sandy (Allucquère Rosanne). "The 'Empire' Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto." Camera Obscura 10 (1992): 150-176.
  • short selections by Judith Halberstam, Patricia White, Michelle Aaron and Lisa Henderson on Boys Don't Cry in Screen Vol. 42 (2001)
  • Milliken, Christie. "Unheimlich Maneuvers: The Genres and Genders of Transsexual Documentary." Velvet Light Trap 41 (1998):


  • Boys Don't Cry (Kimberly Peirce, 1999) [118 min.]
  • TransGeneration {episode TBD} (Sundance Channel, 2005) [30 min.]
  • optional: The Brandon Teena Story (1998) [90 min.]



  • Crimp, Douglas. "Portraits of People with AIDS." Melancholia and Moralism. MIT Press, 2004: 83-107.
  • Bordowitz, Gregg. "The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous." Queer Looks: 209-224.
  • Muñoz, José Esteban. "Pedro Zamora's Real World of Counterpublicity: Performing an Ethics of the Self." Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. U of Minnesota Press, 1999: 143-160.


  • Zero Patience (John Greyson, 1993) [95 min.]
  • The Real World: San Francisco {episode TBD} (MTV, 1994) [30 min.]
  • short independent videos from the AIDS crisis (selection TBD)
  • optional: Parting Glances (Bill Sherwood, 1986) [90 min.]



  • Dyer, Richard. selections on underground and lesbian film (TBD). Now You See It: Studies in Lesbian and Gay Film. Routledge, 1990:
  • Fung, Richard. "Looking for My Penis: The Eroticized Asian in Gay Video Porn." How Do I Look? Queer Film and Video. Ed. Bad Object-Choices. 145-168.
  • Cramer, Florian. "Sodom Blogging: Alternative Porn and Aesthetic Sensibility." + Julie Levin Russo. "'The Real Thing': Reframing Queer Pornography for Virtual Spaces." C'Lick Me: A Netporn Studies Reader. Ed. Katrien Jacobs, Marije Janssen, and Matteo Pasquinelli. Institute of Network Cultures, 2008: 171-175 + 239-251.


  • Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006) [101 min.]
  • short films by Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, Barbara Hammer, Richard Fung, Nguyen Tan Hoang, etc. (selection TBD)
  • optional: queer porn



  • Butler, Judith. "Gender Is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion." Bodies That Matter. Routledge, 1993: 121-140.
  • Muñoz, José Esteban. "Performing Disidentifications" (Introduction). Disidentifications: 1-34.  
  • de Villiers, Nicholas. "The vanguard - and the most articulate audience": Queer Camp, Jack Smith and John Waters." Forum 4 (2007).


  • Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990) [71 min.]
  • Pink Flamingos (John Waters, 1972) [90 min.]
  • optional: Ru-Paul's Drag Race (Logo, 2009- )



  • Puar, Jasbir. "Introduction: Homonationalism and Biopolitics." Terrorist Assemblages. Duke University Press, 2007: 1-36. + "In the Wake of It Gets Better" http://guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/ 2010/nov/16/wake-it-gets-better-campaign).
  • Villarejo, Amy. "Ethereal Queer: Notes on Method." + Aaron, Michelle. "Towards Queer Television Theory." Queer TV: Theories, Histories, Politics. Ed. Glyn Davis and Gary Needham. Routledge, 2009: 48-75.
  • Alexander, Jason and Elizabeth Losh. "'A YouTube of One's Own?': 'Coming Out' Videos as Rhetorical Action." LGBT Identity and Online New Media. Ed. Christopher Pullen and Margaret Cooper. Routledge, 2010: 37-50.
  • Lim, Eng-Beng. "No Kid Play." Social Text / Periscope / Queer Suicide: A Teach-In (November 2010) http://socialtextjournal.org/periscope/2010/11/no-kid-play.php)




  • Doty, Alexander. "Introduction: What Makes Queerness Most?" + "There's Something Queer Here." Making Things Perfectly Queer. University of Minnesota Press, 1993: xi-16.
  • Dyer, Richard. "Believing in Fairies: The Author and the Homosexual." Inside/Out: 185-201.
  • Needham, Gary. "Scheduling Normativity: Television, the Family, and Queer Temporality." Queer TV: 143-158.
  • Jones, Sara Gwenllian. "Starring Lucy Lawless?" Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 14.1 (April 2000): 9-22.