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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Rahul Krishna Gairola
ENGL 307
Seattle Campus

Cultural Studies

Overview of cultural studies with a focus on reading texts or objects using cultural studies methods and writing analytic essays using cultural studies methods. Focuses on culture as a site of political and social debate and struggle. Recommended: one 300-level ENGL course in the literary period being studied.

Class description

Queering Home: Diasporic Genealogies of (Be)longing and Nation

This class tracks the institutionalization of what Michel Foucault has termed “biopolitics,” or the targeted regulation of populations, as a widespread technology in the eras of neoliberal capitalism ushered in by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It will illustrate that this process was particularly effective when operating through the trope of “home,” and focuses on cultural production around conceptions of "home" from the late 1970s into the twenty-first century. We will examine the ways in which “home” – as a geographical and ideological site – can be read as a key site where oppressed people have been marginalized since the demise of traditional imperialisms. The “texts” (literature and film) we shall examine are produced by diasporic peoples of color currently living in the US and UK whose work resists and reappropriates exclusive “home” sites. Specifically, we will examine the literature of Michelle Cliff, Jessica Hagedorn, and Jackie Kay, and the films of Hanif Kureishi. In doing so, we will seek to excavate the ways in which neoliberal biopolitics pervade notions of “home” at various sites: in the post-colonial education and schooling in 1980s Jamaica; in experiences of post-colonial, Pakistani diasporas residing in Thatcherite London; in U.S. consumerism, militarism, and hegemonic notions of beauty in the Philippines during the Marcos era; and in the ideological and physical violence deployed by state institutions and exploitative media in contemporary Britain. Together, these ostensibly disparate "texts" piece together a puzzle that elucidates the ways that biopolitical mandates promoted by US and UK neoliberalism shape exclusive home sites. Such mandates regulate populations through categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality, which subsequently assimilate social identities to acceptable formations of “home.”

Required "texts":

Cliff, Michelle. "Abeng."

Hagedorn, Jessica. "Dogeaters."

Kay, Jackie. "Trumpet."

Foucault, Michel. "History of Sexuality, Volume I."

Kureishi, Hanif. "My Beautiful Launderette" (film).

Kureishi, Hanif. "Sammy and Rosie Get Laid" (film).

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Read the novels ahead of class.

Class assignments and grading

One final paper with multiple draft and peer review sessions.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Rahul Krishna Gairola
Date: 11/10/2010