Gender, Identity and Literature

I.     Course Prefix/Number: EGL 228

       Course Name: Gender, Identity and Literature

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

EGL 101 or placement in EGL 101.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces students to representations of gender and sexuality in literary works, including poetry, fiction, drama, and film. Content includes theory of gender and sexual identity; influence of gender and sexual identities on literary expression, and influence of literature on gender and sexual identities; terminology and methods of literary analysis and evaluation.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will be able to:
    A. Identify representations of gender and sexuality in a variety of literary works
           (e.g. fiction, poetry, drama, and film).   
    B. Explain how race, ethnicity, class, and nationality affect gender and sexual
    C. Delineate the social, intellectual, and historical influences specific to the
           development of literary traditions regarding gender and sexuality.
    D. Interpret the formal elements of these works, using appropriate terminology,
         such as theme, conflict, figurative language, etc. 
    E. Analyze works in the context of their literary, cultural, and historical
    F. Synthesize knowledge of genre, formal elements, and background material.
    G. Incorporate secondary sources in the analysis and interpretation of literary

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

Readings may be organized thematically or chronologically.   A chronological survey can present the development of literature on gender and sexuality, charting discussions of gendered subjectivity that began in the nineteenth century and continuing through contemporary times.  Major subtopics for a thematic organization include gender identification, sexual orientation, the social construction of gender and sexuality, the codification of gender inequality, gay and lesbian identities, coming out, AIDS, pre- and post-Stonewall activism, transgender issues, hate crimes, bisexual and hybrid identities, and new voices.

    Sample outline by chronology:

    Weeks #1-2      Introduction: Working Definitions of Gender and Sexuality
        Gender studies in literature
        Literary and theoretical texts from the 19th and early 20th centuries
    Weeks #3-4    Gender Theory and Practices
        The invention of homo- and heterosexuality: Freud and Ellis, Jonathan Katz
        Sexual/textual practices: Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde

    Weeks #5-6    Modernism and the Representation of Gender
        Virginia Woolf’s Orlando
        Sally Potter’s film version of Orlando
        Gertrude Stein
        W.S. Auden
    Week #6        Sexuality and Race: American Expatriates of the 1950s
        James Baldwin and Giovanni’s Room

    Weeks #7-8    Second-wave feminism and lesbian identity
        Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde

    Week #9        Hybrid Identities
        Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning
    Week #10    Pre- and Post-Stonewall Histories
        Paul Monette

    Week #11-12    AIDS and its Literature
        Tony Kushner’s Angels in America
        David Wojnarowicz’s Close to the Knives

    Weeks #13-14    Queer Politics and Sexual Identities
        Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina
        Essays by Michael Warner, Lauren Berlant, and Andrew Sullivan

    Week #15    Contemporary voices: Gender and Hate Crimes
        Documentary: The Brandon Teena Story
    Week #16    Contemporary voices: Freedom and Security
    Selected short stories and poetry from Beyond Definition: New Writing from Lesbian and Gay San Francisco

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Methods include lecture, discussion, collaborative work, student presentations, and other assignments that foster critical analysis of the subject matter. Guest speakers, films, and audio-visual materials may be used when appropriate.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Success in this course depends on the student’s ability to read and understand the assigned texts. Additionally, students will discuss and write extensively throughout the course as they analyze primary and secondary source materials. Written work will include midterm and final exams, as well as formal essay assignments totaling 12-15 typed pages. Quizzes, group projects and/or oral assignments may also be given.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Instructional materials include novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and films that thematize gender and sexuality. Essays that provide historical background or theoretical analysis of gender and sexuality will also be included.
               Suggested anthology: Queer Cultures, Prentice Hall.
    Historical background: Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

In addition to exams and written/oral assignments, students will be evaluated on their active and prepared participation in class discussions and other projects.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at