Queer Visual Practices (AHV3005)

StaffDr Joao Florencio - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

In this module you will be introduced to the major theories and debates that accompanied queer activism and queer visual practices in the West since the mid-20th century including:

  • biopolitics and biopower (Michel Foucault)
  • gender performativity (Judith Butler)
  • queer negativity (Lee Edelman)
  • queer utopia (José Esteban Muñoz)
  • camp aesthetics (Sontag, Meyer)
  • the impact of the AIDS pandemic on queer activism, thought, and visual culture

Through a combination of lectures, readings, seminar discussions, group work, visual analysis, and film screenings, you will become acquainted with the histories of queer visual culture and the ways in which they drew from and fed into wider political and theoretical debates. As core moments in the queer struggle towards an understanding of identity as a complex negotiation of internal libidinal forces and pre-existing models for inhabiting one’s body and one’s sexuality, the queer visual practices you will examine have made visible different iterations of identity, the body, and sexual pleasure. By analysing those images alongside careful readings of some of the major voices in thinking and writing queer, you will gain knowledge of visual histories that have existed at the margins of the Western visual canon, whilst also developing your ability to engage in sophisticated critical discussions of identity, its politics, and the images that reproduce and/or trouble our assumptions about it.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Critically evaluate the dominant theoretical concepts and debates framing contemporary queer visual practices
  • 2. Analyse coherently and convincingly visual artefacts in relation to the philosophical, historical, and political framings of gender, sexuality, and race that mark the context of their production and circulation
  • 3. Identify the ways in which art and visual culture has played an important role in responding to and troubling dominant views on identity and difference in the 20th and 21st centuries and the apparatuses of power and knowledge underlying them

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Independently research, present, and critically evaluate relevant visual artefacts in relation to the wider cultural, political, and intellectual contexts of their production and consumption
  • 5. Critically engage with relevant scholarly texts and relate them, convincingly and coherently, to visual practices across a variety of media

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Demonstrate adequate research, bibliographical and academic writing skills, and the capacity to construct a coherent argument grounded on analysis of visual artefacts and existing theoretical sources
  • 7. Demonstrate basic proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 8. Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively, orally and/or in written form, towards the development, research, organisation, and articulation of ideas within limited time frames

Syllabus plan

Lectures will be structured thematically in order to address core topics in queer visual practices of the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as relevant scholarly works drawn from queer theory, history of sexuality, art history, and visual culture. The module will comprise four major thematic blocs:

  • Queering Theory
  • Queer Visual Practices Before Stonewall
  • Visual Culture and Queer Militancy
  • From Angry Queer to Happy Gay: The Visual Politics of Normalisation

The module will also include five 1-hour seminars dedicated to close readings of core texts relevant to discussions of queer and its visual manifestations, alongside three 2-hour slots which will be used to screen relevant feature films and/or present performance works by invited artists.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching91 hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching122 hour seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching1Individual tutorial time
Guided independent study128Reading and research for lectures, seminars and assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Mini Essay750 words1-7Feedback sheet with opportunity for follow-up tutorial
Oral Presentation5-10 minutes1-8Oral peer-feedback and feedback sheet with opportunity for follow-up tutorial

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay903000 words1-7Feedback sheet with opportunity for follow-up
Participation & Engagement10Five 400-word response papers1-8oral (seminar discussion)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7Referral/Deferral period
Participation & EngagementMitigation / Repeat study1–8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York and London: Routledge, 1990.
  • Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.London and New York: Routldge, 1993.
  • Edelman, Lee. No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004.
  • Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume I. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.
  • Hocquenghem, Guy. Homosexual Desire. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993.
  • Hooks, Bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End Press, 1992.
  • Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York and London: New York University Press, 2009.
  • Puar, Jasbir. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007.
  • Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990.

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Queer Visual Practices