10 Courses on LGBTQ+ Subjects Offered This Fall at The New School

While the World Pride festivities will wind down at the end of June, The New School will continue its legacy of offering cutting-edge courses on queer history, culture, design, and aesthetics.

2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, as well as The New School’s Centennial anniversary. On Sunday, June 30, these histories will converge when The New School community marches in the World Pride Parade in New York City, celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, and genderqueer/gender-nonconforming (LGBTQIAGNC+) identity.

While the World Pride festivities will wind down at the end of June, The New School will continue its legacy of offering cutting-edge courses on queer history, culture, design, and aesthetics. Here’s a look at 10 LGBTQ+ themed courses offered this fall at The New School.

This university lecture course, open to all undergraduate students, will delve into a range of approaches to fundamental questions raised by the theory that in the work of making, designers draw on “tacit knowledge” — things known, but not articulated, by the knower. What are the implications of tacit knowledge, and tacit beliefs, for design that seeks to make and change the world(s) in which we live? And what are the impacts on design when these tacit ideas are about structures of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and nation, or what Ruth Wilson Gilmore, a professor of geography, calls “the fatal coupling of power and difference”?

Working through perspectives of both designers and “non-designers,” the course will examine the social and political locations — and the tacit and explicit ideas that shape them — of designed objects and systems, as well as collaborative and participatory design processes and ways of working.

This seminar, offered through the Politics department of Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, surveys the long history of language, gender, social organization, ideas about pleasure and domesticity, economic and political formations among LGBTQ and genderqueer people in North America.

Weekly topics will allow students to explore distinct methods for understanding, writing, and interpreting evidence about the queer past, and using this past to challenge established historical narratives about gender and sexuality. Using the concept of “queerness,” the course will explore three centuries of history in which “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual” “passing” and “transgender” identities did not always exist, but creative rearrangements of conventional intimacies and social roles (sometimes under other names) did. Understanding that our queer past is intertwined with structures of power usually studied as “American history,” students will often scrutinize well known events, institutions, people, and public spaces for what they reveal about both “heteronormative” and “queer” sexualities; cisgender and genderqueer selves.

This course, offered by the Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs at the Schools of Public Engagement, will interrogate a series of questions: How have transnational and postcolonial gender/queer identities emerged — and been constructed — in the media? To what extent have insights from postcolonial, queer, and transnational feminism gained traction in popular and media discourse around the world? What regulates these speech acts? What incubates them? What governs their intelligibility? To what extent are these discursive practices themselves complicit in reconsolidating the structures they are intended to dismantle?

The course will begin by reading scholarly texts on postcolonial, transnational, and queer feminisms. The course will then proceed to specific case studies of popular and media discourse on gender/sexuality. These case studies will be drawn from the media markets of the Global North as well as the Global South, particularly, but not exclusively, from the Middle East/West Asia and South Asia.

Offered through Eugene Lang College, this courses focuses on the representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters in American film. However limited it remains, LGBT representation is largely seen as a recent phenomenon. Nevertheless, decades of industrial studies, scholarly readings, and general queer viewership have gradually uncovered a parallel historical trajectory, in which queer characters, themes, and narratives have been part of our national cinema for nearly the entirety of its existence, if often surreptitiously.

Queer Ecologies, offered through the Culture and Media department at Eugene Lang College, will address the interdisciplinary constellation of practices that aim, in different ways, to disrupt prevailing heterosexist discursive and institutional articulations of sexuality and nature, and also to reimagine evolutionary processes, ecological interactions, and environmental politics in light of queer theory. Drawing from traditions as diverse as evolutionary biology, LGBTQ+ movements, feminist science studies, and environmental justice, this course will highlight the complexity of contemporary biopolitics, draw important connections between the material and cultural dimensions of environmental issues, and examine the ways in which sex and nature are understood in light of multiple trajectories of power and matter.

In this course, students will explore sites of contemporary art and culture at the intersection of disability and queerness; the politics of representation and embodiment; and current debates around the rhetorics of disability justice and LGBTQ+ Civil Rights. This course, offered through Eugene Lang College, pays special attention to the roles that artistic activism play in countering hegemonic forms of governance. Substantial attention will be spent on alternatives to the western dominance of visuality as a primary modality in art and media cultures. Students will be encouraged to produce writings and creative projects as platforms to discuss technology, history, sex, gender, disability, illness, and social justice.

Weekly case studies, field trips, and hands-on projects will include an overview of queer and disabled artists working with painting, sculpture, photography, performance, interactive media, and public art projects with/by/for LGBTQ+ and gender non-conforming communities, youth, and those living with disability, trauma, chronic and mental illness.

This course, offered through Eugene Lang College, traces the thinking of the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality in the 20th and 21st centuries. The course will follow the central debates among feminist scholars regarding the stability and the relation between these categories. The first half of the course establishes a firm grounding in the structural and post-structural conversation, mostly between second wave French feminists and third-wave queer theorists. In the remainder of the course students will look at the political, economic, and legal manifestations of gender, as well as post-colonial and intersectional themes put forth by Black, Muslim, and Indigenous feminists.

Since the emergence of “homosexuality” and “transexuality” as identities in the late 19th century, queer culture has been presumed to develop in the margins of American life, ancillary to and shaped by heterosexual norms. Yet the vast majority of queer people in the last hundred years have lived (to at least some degree) in the closet, allowing them to exist in the mainstream while maintaining a distinctly non-normative identity. Thus, to quote bell hooks, allowing them “to bring the margin into the center.” As America transitioned into a consumer culture, many of these queer people found themselves working in the design fields: interior design, architecture, fashion design, illustration, and product design. How did their queerness, as an identity and a body of experience, shape their vision of the world, and how did they repackage this vision as the ideal of normality for mainstream America? Conversely, how did they also resist. This course is offered through the Art and Design History department of Parsons School of Design.

Gender and its multifarious manifestations and expressions is crucially linked to visuality. How one is seen or made invisible is the product of evolving gendered power dynamics. In this course, offered through the undergraduate Media Studies program at the Schools of Public Engagement, students will study representations of gender, asking how gender identities are imposed, resisted, and lived, and what potential role visual culture has in transmitting, shaping, maintaining, and transforming them. Students will analyze gendered and racialized language and depictions within the fields of art, cinema, popular culture, and activism, and will consider how gender and race intersect and are co-constructed. The course provides an introduction to feminist approaches to visual culture, drawing on Black feminism, queer theory, (dis)ability studies, psychoanalysis, journalism, and screen studies.

The 1990s was a moment of aesthetic and critical foment for queer and trans life and politics. In New York, Los Angeles, and other U.S. cities, planned gentrification and rezoning — and resistance to them — had a lasting impact on a generation of artists and theorists, as well as the city’s sexual, racial, and economic landscape. This course, offered through Eugene Lang College, asks after the ongoing aesthetic and cultural inheritance of this period.

Students will study artists’ interests in questions of social life, sexual and racial politics, space, and governance in the 1990s, as well as key concepts in critical race studies, black studies, queer and gender theory, and the economic left that emerged under the pressures of this period. Through artwork, critical writing, and archival material, students will trace how the notion of “public sex” came into focus among queer and trans organizers, artists, and academics during a period of heightened response to HIV/AIDS, broken windows policing and the “clean-up” of areas of sexual commerce and recreation.

A university in New York City for scholarly activists, fearless artists, and convention-defying designers established in 1919. #100YearsNew