• Course Number: ENGL 189
  • Prerequisites:

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  • Advisory Enrollment Information:

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  • Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 189
  • Quarter: Winter 2021

ENGL 189, “Chicanx Masculinities: Reorientations, Futurities, (Re)Turns,” attempts to reread the past through the present in order to explore current as well as previous historical moments of political possibility. As a literary period, contemporary literature is traditionally situated as the post-World War II period through the present. In conjunction with this periodization, the course will read contemporary Chicanx literature, beginning with works published as recently as 2016, against the chronological order of the canon, and ending with the text that scholars consider the first contemporary Chicanx novel, José Antonio Villarreal’s Pocho (1959). Rereading the canon in this way will allow the seminar to attend to a multitude of contemporary and modern performances of masculinity—from gay, butch, and trans-masculinity to the heteropatriarchal—in an attempt to read against the primacy of the Chicano nationalist subject, a figure criticized by both Chicanx scholars (including Richard T. Rodriguez and Sandra K. Soto) and Chicana feminist theorists (including Norma Alarcón, Rosa Linda Fregoso, and Angie Chabram) as static, overtly oppositional, and heteropatriarchal. This figure, nevertheless, continues to haunt even recent iterations of Chicanx literary and cultural productions, as Rodriguez suggests in Next of Kin: The Family in Chicana/o Cultural Politics. The seminar, however, refuses to take for granted current literary work as a deviation from this historical trajectory, and instead explores a multitude of masculine possibilities and impossibilities throughout the Chicanx literary tradition.

The seminar will cover primary literary texts as well as secondary materials, including short articles, interviews, and chapters as well as key words (such as “Chicanx”), which will help to situate the academic discussion into which the course is entering. The primary texts for the course are evenly distributed among contemporary works of poetry, drama, novels, and visual arts published within the last decade and highly canonical literary texts from Chicanx authors through the post-War period. Readings include Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano’s Amorcito Maricón, Felicia Luna Lemus’ Like Son, Richard Rodriguez’ Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, Oscar Zeta Acosta’s The Revolt of the Cockroach People, John Rechy’s City of Night, and José Antonio Villarreal’s Pocho.

The guiding questions that we will consider include:

  • If masculinity has traditionally constituted the ideal subject position of the polis, as political historian Christopher Fletcher suggests, how does the reconceptualization of heteronormative masculinity allow us to reconceptualize political possibility?
  • Considering the rise of claims to gender fluidity in our current historical moment, why does masculinity continue to possess currency, even for some non-cisheteronormative subjects? In other words, what can masculinity, as a category, afford?


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