Upper-Division Seminar: Good Comrades and Splendid Creatures- Queer Leftists in English Literary Culture

Course Number: ENGL 197
Prerequisites: Upper-division standing, English majors only
Advisory Enrollment Information: This course cannot be repeated and is limited to upper-division English majors only.
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 197
Quarter: Spring 2016
Instructor: Salton-Cox, Glyn
Day(s): R
Time: 3:30pm - 5:50pm
Location: SH 2617
Description:

Despite the widespread recognition that many of the best-known British leftist writers of the 1930s were queer, the reaction on the part of literary historians has generally ranged from outright homophobia to genteel near-silence. Yet without taking into account the formation of some of the most prominent 30s writers as queer leftists, central questions of the development of both literary forms and institutions are unanswerable. How, for instance, can we understand the period's insistent focus on with the relationship between the public and private spheres without examining the role both queer sexuality and Marxist politics play in that focus? How can we read the love poetry of the period without paying attention to queer love and love of the working class? How, moreover, can we grasp the period's drama without heeding the influence of both Marxist models including that of Bertolt Brecht, and of the queer cultures which gave rise to some of the period's most famous plays?

Focusing mainly on Sylvia Townsend Warner and W. H. Auden, but also exploring other queer writers such as Christopher Isherwood and Katherine Burdekin, we will read a variety of genres, including lyric poetry, drama, the novel, and the short story, paying close attention to the ways in which Communism exerted a powerful draw for queer writers despite the concerted efforts made by critics to write Marxism out of the story of these writers. We will also interrogate the troubled masculinities of 1930s writing, and explore how the gendered assumptions of literary history have occluded writers such as Townsend Warner.