Spring 2018 | CUNY Graduate Center | IDS 70100: Introduction to Queer Studies


“queer studies” or a queer life

For the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with a way in which to construct a queer studies syllabus or site that’s accessible in ways not afforded to those in academia. At the same time, I’ve been asking myself if issues of class, race, gender, or sexuality can inherently be queer, what does it mean to construct an ideological site for low-income folks to go to? Queer studies often includes or embodies the experiences of the folks who are then denied access to the works about them. 

In thinking about creating a queer studies syllabus, I’ve been asking myself who would this work be accountable to? Additionally, how can that accountability be made sustainable?

Recently, I encountered someone who had The Routledge Queer Studies Reader in their possession. I looked up the text to see what it entailed. I had no prior knowledge this text existed, and upon discovering this, I came back to the question of how a free queer studies site would be innovative enough to be more accesible than what can be found through Google.

I’ve deeply been struck by this project because if it’s for those who don’t have the same access or privilege of access to academia, what does it mean to assume that in the struggles of their lives a question they might ask themselves is, “How can I have access to queer studies?” Even using the term “queer studies”, implies a particular disconnect for me. How were the contents of “queer studies” defined prior to one calling it “queer studies”? Would a more useful way to think about this project be, how to provide easier access to texts that may embody the construct of Queer Studies, but with a more accessible way of naming it? I’m thinking if I didn’t have the privilege I have, if my life was structured in a way that I had less support and capital, what would my searches for other ways of living or thinking look like or be called? I think I would Google maybe LGBT youth, or Black Trans Women, or just the word “queer” and see what I come across to build upon my interest.

I’ve just been very uncomfortable with the rhetoric used to describe this project because I feel the term “Queer Studies” can imply a disconnect between the contents of queer studies and the way in which academia names and barricades this information. 

1 Comment

  1. Your perspective is one that I think many people share…perhaps it goes back to how and what ways we come to learn or come to “accept” as how/what constitutes the work within queer studies. I think one strong part of this struggle that continues to be overlooked is the true interdisciplinary nature of the field, but perhaps we need to push this beyond interdisciplinary to a space of being transdisciplinary, whereby we in the field are not pigeon-holed to one particular discipline and collaborate with others in different disciplines to create a complete puzzle. We need to be versed and capable of movement between, across, and within disciplines to capture the true nature of the field and what we hope to set as its new meaning.

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