I’d love to teach a course on gender and sexuality leaning towards researching and questioning BDSM practices because they, in their turn, are exploring questions of power, violence, and gendered expectations. If I ever have such an opportunity, in this course I’d prompt students to read classical texts, such as Foucault’s The History of Sexuality and Butler’s Gender Trouble; ethnographic or historic accounts, like Chauncey’s Gay New York and Kulick’s Travesti, and some non-nonfictional literature too–memoirs, old and recent, written mainly by women, exploring their sexuality through writing.
The students were asked to write a mini-ethnography, engaging with the theory they were forced through, and based on their own choices of site and method.
They produced writings on:
laundromat Sunday attending
Super Smash Bros. tournament
church sermons of different kinds
Black Lives Matter event (a disruption of continuity; written by a black student)
cemetery with an occasional funeral
Student Activity Center (slumbering on the pillows, mostly)
coffee shops of all shapes and sizes
homeless on Guadalupe
Mexican restaurant (always a great site for observations)
the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (the only instance I advised an outside writing, namely Agamben “On Security and Terror”)
UT street market
comedy open mic
And so forth, some 250 pages total. In short, all the colorful kaleidoscope of Texas [mostly blissful middle-class] life, or at least written from the positionalities of people endowed with such a life.
I read it with a great interest; it was full of curious observations, and some of this writing was reflective and reflexive. I was particularly glad to read on UT street market and Guadalupe homeless gathering; had passing thoughts about writing on both. Another particular excitement is the sorority gatherings, but I could not entertain a hope of once writing about them. Now that I finished grading, the landscape of UT is somewhat more densely inhabited.