Gender, Identity and Literature

I.     Course Prefix/Number: EGL 132

       Course Name: Gender, Identity and Literature

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


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:

  1. Identify representations of gender and sexuality in a variety of literary works (e.g. fiction, poetry, drama, and film);
  2. Explain how race, ethnicity, class, and nationality affect gender and sexual Identity;
  3. Demonstrate ability to discuss and debate multiple interpretations of literary works using methods of shared inquiry;
  4. Engage in close readings of literary texts as support for literary interpretation, in-class discussions and written assignments;
  5. Analyze works in the context of their literary, cultural, and historical contexts;
  6. Interpret the formal elements of these works, using appropriate literary terminology;
  7. Distinguish and apply multiple critical approaches to the analysis of literary texts.

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
iterary 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

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.