VII. Theorizing Genders & Sexualities

a. Gender Theories b. Les/Gay/Bi/Trans/Queer Theories

The breakdown of notions of American exceptionalism and class consensus analyzed in earlier sections of this bibliography was driven in large part by social movements of the 1960s. Those movements set in motion a profound rethinking and rewriting of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality and other modalities of "difference" that further challenged monolithic conceptions of Americanness. AS programs responded unevenly to this new scholarship, with some units providing a base for the emerging new scholarship, and others remaining resistant or oblivious. The AS interdisciplinary unit model also proved useful when this work was institutionalized via the rise of ethnic, women's and queer studies programs. In turn, the new scholarly attention paid to previously marginalized subjects of history deeply reshaped theories and methods of study in AS and, later, in virtually every other field of scholarship in the human and social sciences.

While it can be useful to isolate modes of difference for the heuristic purposes of learning theory, concentrating on one dimension should not lead to one dimensionality. Separating gender from sexuality from race and class from the other social categories risks re-marginalizing them just as they are establishing their centrality to any cultural analysis. Thus each subsection below is structured to move towards points of intersection with the other categories.

The selections represent work that refuses to simply "add in" race, ethnicity or gender or sexuality, but instead demonstrates that serious attention to any one in isolation, let alone in combination, entails totally reconceptualzing what has been called the "mainstream."

Feminist and gay/lesbian/queer theories, as with the critical racial and ethnic theories noted in the previous section, have had a profound impact on all levels and kinds of humanities and social science scholarship (despite great resistance). Thus these works should be read as at once substantive contributions to their fields, and as critiques of the inadequate theorization of gender, race, sexuality and other constructions of cultural difference in traditional humanities and social science scholarship. For the sake of ease of operation I have divided the sections below into Gender and, Sexuality, but the best current work, including much scholarship cited below, is being done at the intersections of these and related modalities of difference (especially class, which is central in Section IV, among other places).

In the case of both feminist/gender theory, and queer theory the work of feminists of color, and gay men and women of color, have often been underrepresented in discussions of theory. This makes no sense given that the first truly sophisticated modern presentation of the what we would now call the intersectionality of race, class, gender and sexuality was produced in the late 1960s by the feminists of color Combahee River Collecitve. Similarly, Black womanist Audre Lorde was working out what we might now call an intersectional queer theory years before figures like Foucault, Sedgwick and Butler produced their important insights.

All citations in this bibliography are arranged chrono-topically, not alphabetically, to give a sense of theoretical developments emerging over time.

Gender/Feminist Theories


bell hooks
hooks, bell. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Boston: South End Press, 2000 [2nd ed.].
Second edition of hooks' classic text moving women of color feminism to the center of feminist theorizing.
McCann, Carole R. and Seung-Kyung Kim, eds. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. NY: Routledge, 2010 [2nd ed].
A comprehensive historical-contemporary collection that to some degree moves from the US-centric focus of too many such anthologies.

Kolmar, Wendy, and Frances Bartkowski, eds. Feminst Theory: A Reader. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 2003 [2nd ed.]

Perhaps the most accessible of the introductions and thus especially useful for undergraduates. See especially the veryuseful "Lexicon of Debates [in Feminist Theory]."
Lorber, Judith, ed. Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007 [3rd ed.]
Particularly strong on social science contributions to feminist throught.

Representative Historical/Contemporary Texts

Chmaj, Betty, ed. American Women and American Studies. Pittsburgh, PA: Know Press, 1971.
---. Image, Myth and Beyond: American Women and American Studies, Vol. 2. Pittsburg, PA: Know Press, 1972.
These two collections exemplify early efforts to link AS to the then emerging field of Women's Studies.
Baxter, Annette. "Women's Studies and American Studies: The Uses of the Interdisciplinary." American Quarterly 26 (1974): 433-439.
Review essay of early feminist AS work.
Abel, Elizabeth, and Emily Abel, eds. The 'Signs' Reader: Women, Gender, and Scholarship. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983.
Keohane, Nannerl, et. al., eds. Feminist Theory: A Critique of Ideology. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1982.
This volume and the Abel volume above are collections of essays culled from Signs, one of the preeminent American journals of feminist theory. Both volumes contain brilliant essays on topics ranging across a wide variety of social science and humanities disciplines and interdisciplines, representing the state of the art in feminist scholarship in the early 1980s. In the Keohane collection, see especially pieces by MacKinnon, Jehlen, and Marcus.
Baym, Nina. "Melodramas of Beset Manhood: How Theories of American Literature Exclude Women." Elaine Showalter, ed. The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature, Theory. NY: Pantheon, 1985.
A very influential article which demonstrates some of the ways in which a bias towards masculinist definitions of heroism have effectively devalued the literature produced by women and theorized the "major tradition" of American letters as male.
Tompkins, Jane. "Sentimental Power: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Politics of Literary History." Elaine Showalter. The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature, Theory. NY: Pantheon, 1985.
Coming at the same problematic as Baym from the other side, Tompkins argues that one important, largely female tradition of writing, the sentimental novel, has been devalued and systematically misrepresented through the universalization of a particular, restrictive set of criteria for literary value.
Anzaldua, Gloria, and Cherríe Moraga, eds.This Bridge Called My Back. NY: Kitchen Table/Women of Color Press, 1983.
While women of color played key roles in feminist movements from the beginning, racism preventing them from being recognized as central figures. This landmark collection of "critical and creative" writings by women of color changed all that, leading to a profound rethinking of race and gender, while also challenging narrow definitions of "theory" by arguing for fiction, poetry, and other forms of writing as theory.
de Lauretis, Teresa, ed. Feminist Studies/Critical Studies. Bloomington: Indiana U P, 1986.
A rich collection of essays surveying the state of feminist cultural theory across a range of disciplines. De Lauretis's introduction is an important contribution to theory itself, and virtually all of the articles make significant contributions to the current state of cultural theory.
Eagleton, Mary. Feminist Literary Theory: A Reader. NY: Basil Blackwell, 1988.
A very wide-ranging sampling of brief excerpts from classic and contemporary examples of feminist criticism that can be useful for gaining a general historical overview.
Fraser, Nancy. Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1989.
A series of essays analyzing various recent theorists (Foucault, Derrida, Rorty, Habermas) in terms of their usefulness and limits for feminist theory and practice. Concludes with an exemplary analysis of women and the welfare system that applies aspects of the various theorists surveyed.
"Feminism and Deconstruction." Special issue of FS: Feminist Studies 14 (1988).
See especially the article by Poovey and the dissenting arguments of Christian.
Newton, Judith, and Deborah Rosenfelt eds. Feminist Criticism and Social Change: Sex, Class and Race in Literature and Culture. NY: Methuen, 1985.
The introduction, the essays by Jones and Smith, and Lauter's piece on the American canon, are of particular interest.
Showalter, Elaine ed. The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature, Theory. NY: Pantheon, 1985.
An accessible collection with a number of essays of special relevance to Americanists. In addition to the Tompkins, Smith and Baym articles cited elsewhere in this section, see especially the pieces by Kolodny, Showalter and Zimmerman.
Smith, Barbara. "Towards a Black Feminist Criticism." Elaine Showalter. The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature, Theory. NY: Pantheon, 1985.
A landmark statement of the inadequacy of white feminist theory to treat the different realities of black women in the US, this essay also outlined an agenda of black feminist research much of which remains to be accomplished.
hooks, bell. Feminist Theory: From the Margins to the Center. Boston: South End Press, 1984.
Key text in the insurgency of women of color from "the margins to the center" of feminist thought and action.
Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1990.
Landmark book in the development of African American feminist theory, balances theory and practice, experience and reflection in surveying "black feminist thought" in a variety of spaces and places, "high" and "low."
Lim, Shirley Geok-Lin, Mayumi Tsutakawa, and Donnellym Margarita, eds.The Forbidden Stitch: An Asian American Women's Anthology. NY: Calyx Books, 1991.
Wong, Diane Yen-Mei, and Emilya Cachapero, eds. Making Waves: An Anthology of Writings by and About Asian American Women. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.
Kim, Elaine, and Lilia Villaneuva, eds. Making More Waves: New Writing by Asian American Women. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997.
These three anthologies above provide a good sense of the evolution of Asian American feminist thought from the 1980s to the present.
Harjo, Joy, and Gloria Bird, eds. Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Contemporary Native American Women's Writings of North America. NY: W.W. Norton, 1998.
Excellent collection demonstrating a range of approaches to rethinking race and gender from the perspectives of indigenous women.
Frankenberg, Ruth. White Women, Race Matters. Minneapolis, MN: Uof Minnesota P, 1993.
Key work in the process of showing the necessity of "racializing whiteness" in order to deal with problems of racism within feminist theory and practice.
Sandoval, Chela. "US Third World Feminism: The Theory and Method of Oppositional Consciousness in the Postmodern World." Genders 10 (1991): 1-24.
A brilliant article rethinking feminist and postmodern theory through the multiply positioned subjectivity of women of color. Argues that a "women of color feminism" offers strategic methods for transcending dilemmas created by positing various schools of feminist theory (radical, cultural, socialist, liberal, postmodern, etc.) as mutually exclusive. Reprinted and expanded upon in her book, Methodology of the Oppressed. (see below)
Hansen, Karen V., and Ilene J. Philipson, eds. Women, Class and the Feminist Imagination. Philadelphia, PA: Temple U P, 1990.
This "socialist-feminist reader" collects many of the most significant essays from the 60s, 70s, and 80s in which feminist scholars use, critique and debate the relevance of various marxist concepts and positions.
Weed, Elizabeth ed. Coming to Terms: Feminism, Theory, Politics. NY: Routledge, 1989.
A brilliant collection of essays on feminist cultural/political interpretation influenced by post-structuralism. See especially the pieces by Miller and Haraway.

Cayenne and Donna Haraway
Haraway, Donna. The Haraway Reader. NY: Routledge, 2003.
A good way to get some sense of the rich, varied work of one of the foremost social ttheorists of the 20th century. Includes excerpts from many of Haraway's profoundly influential elaboration of a material-discursive theory combining insights and tropes from science, social science and the humanities.
---. Simians, Cyborgs and Women. NY: Routledge, 1991.
Along with The Haraway Reader above, this collection of brilliant and influential essays. on a range of topics, from the famous "Cyborg Manifesto" and "Situated Knowledges," to essays on feminist science studies, provides a good introduction to Haraway's unique theoretical production.
King, Katie. Feminist Theory in Its Travels. Bloomington: Indiana U P, 1994.
Offers a brilliant argument about the social and intellectual struggles that have shaped what counts as feminist theory, and what the dominant trends in feminist thinking have been over time as driven by the evolution of women's movements.
Sturgeon, Noël. Ecofeminist Natures: Race, Gender, Feminist Theory and Political Action. NY: Routledge, 1997.
The best of the books theorzing the close connections among racism, sexism, and environmental destruction. Includes a politically nuanced theoretical complication of the essentialism-constructionism debate.
Garcia, Alma, ed. Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings . NY: Routledge, 1997.
Brings together in one volume most of the key texts in the evolution of Chicana feminist theory from the 1960s to the 21st century.
Trujillo, Carla, ed. Living Chicana Theory. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman Press: 1998.
Not only offers a rich take on Chicana theory, but expands what counts as theory by showing brilliantly how theory is alive in poems, comedy shows, movies, and many other non-high-falutin' places.
Arredondo, Gabriela F. et al. eds. Chicana Feminisms: A Critical Reader.Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003.
A series of essays by prominent Chicana feministas teóricas with responses by other key scholars. Covers a range of disciplines and subject matter, but is a bit stronger on humanities/cultural studies than social science approaches.
Torres, Edén.Chicana Without Apology: The New Chicana Cultural Studies. NY: Routledge, 2003.
Impressively moves between lived experience, high theory, and social science while theorizing the need to locate Chicana studies far more firmly in global political and cultural systems.
Hennessy, Rosemary and Chrys Ingraham, eds. Materialist Feminism: A Reader. NY: Routledge, 1997.
Excellent collection of theoretical pieces exploring further intersections of political economy and feminismsm.
Kolmar, Wendy, and France Bartkowski, eds. Feminist Theory: A Reader. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1999.
Offers a wide-ranging survey of feminist thought for the 18th to the late 20th centuries. The breadth means sacrificing depth, with many pieces severely condensed, but it is a very useful survey to get a sense of major developments over time.
McCann, Carole and Seung-Kyung Kim, eds. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. NY: Routledge, 2010.
An excellent collection of historical and contemporary essays covering many of the major feminist theoretical debates in the US and globally.
Hesse-Biber, Sharlene, Robin Lydenberg, and Chris Gilmartin, eds. Feminist Approaches to Theory and Methodology: An Interdisciplinary Reader.NY: Oxford U P, 1999.
Especially useful in its interdiscipilinary, comparative approach.
Mohanty, Chandra. Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003.
Brings together and elaborates Mohanty's extremely imporant work attempting to decenter Western and US-centric modes of feminist analyis in the name of a carefully nuanced transnational solidarity alert to cultural, class and ethnic differences among the world's women.
Hong, Grace. The Ruptures of American Capital: Women of Color Feminism and the Culture of Immigrant Labor. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2006.
Theorizes the intersection of women of color feminism and recent immigrant women laborers as a key point from which to strategize organizing around an important political economic contradiction for capital.
Grewal, Inderpal. Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms.Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.
Sophisicated set of interventions into South Asian/transnational feminist theory.
Keating, AnaLouise. Transformation Now!: Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change Champagne IL: U of Illinois Press, 2013.
Offers an intriguing theory of "interconnectivity" as an approach to getting beyond static notions of intersectionality and identity politics.

Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans/Queer Theories


Jagose, Annamarie. Queer Theory: An Introduction. New York, NY: New York University Press, 1997.
Gives a history of gay/lesbian movement and a pre-history of queer studies, and thus situates queer theory in a larger context of social change. Lucid and succinct, but limited in its range of discussion of queer theories and theorists, especially with regard to racial and class differences.
Turner, William B. A Genealogy of Queer Theory. Philadelphia, PA. Temple University Press, 2001.
A more advanced and theoretically rich introduction than the Jagose book above. Especially strong on the Foucaultian strain of queer theory. In contrast to Jagose, it is thinner on long-range historical context, but stronger on complexities of various queer theories. Like Jagaose, neglects centrality of queers of color.
Hall, Donald E. Queer Theories. NY:Palgrave McMillan, 2003.
A readable, witty clear but uncondescending survey of queer theories with a literary bent, including sample applications of qt to literary texts ranging from Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde to The Color Purple.
Kirsch, Max. Queer Theory and Social Change. NY:Routledge, 2001.
Introduces and examines key issues in queer theories in direct relation to social movement organizing and practical politics.
Sullivan, Nikki. A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. NY: NYU Press, 2003.
Lucid, wide-ranging text. Topically arranged to discuss race, sadomasochism,`straight' sex, fetishism, community, popular culture, transgender, and performativity, among other issues.

Representative Historical/Contemporary Texts

Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1984.
Collects some of Lorde's best work from the 1970s and early 1980s theorizing an intersectional queer womanist class-based position presented with her almost supernatural lucidity and practical political grounding.

Gloria Anzaldua
Anzaldua, Gloria, and Cherríe Moraga, eds. This Bridge Called My Back. NY: Kitchen Table/Women of Color Press, 1983.
This the most famous early women of color anthology contributed greatly not only to feminist theory, but to the exploration of what we now call "queer theory's" intersection with issues of race and class.
Cruikshank, Margaret, ed. Lesbian Studies. Old Westbury, NY: The Feminist Press, 1982.
Pathbreaking collection on approaches to lesbian literature, culture, and history.
"The Lesbian Issue." Special issue of the feminist journal Signs 9 (1984).
A more systematic attempt to theorize "lesbianism" as a cultural location. See especially the essays by Vicinus, Newton, Zimmerman, and Kennard.
Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality (3 vols.) Translated by Robert Hurley. NY: Pantheon, vol. 1 [1978], vol. 2 [1985], vol. 3 [1986].
In many ways these volumes are the locus classicus for a key strand of queer theory. Foucault systematically dismantled most every previously assumed position on the historical development of sexuality, and thereby opened up vast new possibilities.
"Displacing Homophobia." Special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly 88 (1989).
Rich collection of gay male theory for literary and cultural study.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley: U of California P, 1990.
A key text in the rise of "queer theory." Shows the centrality of homo/heterosexual identity formations to the construction of knowledge in virtually every arena of scholarship, but with particular attention paid to literary texts.
de Lauretis, Teresa, ed. "Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities." Special issue of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 2 (1991).
Influential essays establishing the concept of "queer theory."
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. NY: Routledge, 1990.
Influential as one of the sources of queer theory in that it denormativizes all genders. Uses Lacan and Foucault to argue that "gender" is a kind of unstable, constantly reiterated performance.
Fuss, Diana, ed. Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories. NY: Routledge, 1991.
A classic collection of very sophisticated multidisciplinary essays theorizing gay and lesbian studies as a key matrix of cultural analysis. As the subtitle suggests, the book insists on showing ways in which lesbianism and male homosexuality produce differing theoretical issues and paradigms, but like Kosofsky's book above, the anthology's larger claim is that the terms "gay" and "lesbian" are not of interest in marking the margins of culture, but rather ones essential for understanding the construction of cultural forms and identities by the so-called mainstream as well.
Abelove, Henry, et al., eds. Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. NY: Routledge, 1993.
A very comprehensive resource, with historical, literary and cultural articles, and an extensive bibliography.
Weed, Elizabeth, and Naomi Shor, eds. Feminism Meets Queer Theory. Bloomington, IN: Indiana U P.
Excellent pieces collected from a special issue of the journal differences.
Warner, Michael, ed. Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993.
Excellent collection theorizing "queer" politics and cultural representations of homosexuality.
Somerville, Siobhan B. Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture. Durham, NC: Duke U P, 2000.
Brings queer theories and race theories together in an argument for the recognition of the color line as a key force in the construction of homosexuality in US history.
Berry, Ellen, Carol Siegel, and Thomas Foster, eds. The Gay Nineties: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Formations in Queer Studies. NY: New York University Press, 1997.
Excellent set of essays theorizing the location and nature of various queer studies paradigms.
Eng, David L, Judith Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz, eds. "What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?" Special Issue of Social Text 84-85 23/3-4 (Fall-Winter 2005).
Reflections on the need to keep queering queer theory in light of its institutionalization.
Howard, John. Men Like That: A Southern Queer History. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.
Winner of the ASA dissertation prize, this book brilliantly and in detail explores communities of gay males in rural Mississippi, from the 1950s to 1985. Innovative in its conceptual complexity and imaginatively rich in its use of documentary and interview sources.
Floyd, Kevin. "Making History: Marxism, Queer Theory, and Contradiction in the Future of American Studies." Cultural Critique 40 (1998): 167-201.
Important, sympathetic critique of limits of queer theory when viewed in relation to political economy and questions of class. Includes important reflections on AS as a site for the cultural study of class and sex.
Hennessy, Rosemary. Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism. NY: Routledge, 2000.
Extends Hennessy's work in materialist feminism to the area of sexual identity as she addresses the links between normative regimes of sexuality and profit making. She challenges major theorists of sexuality, Queer Theory, lesbian and gay studies, to embrace a more complete material-discursive form of analysis.
Hong, Grace Kyunwon and Roderick A. Ferguson, eds. Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.
Important attempt to rethink sex/gender in regard historically racially marked communities..
Leong, Russell, ed. Asian American Sexualities: Dimensions of the Gay and Lesbian Experience.NY: Routledge, 1995.
Anthology with a number of breakthrough essays theorizing various Asian-PI sexual identities.
Munoz, Jose Esteban. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1999.
Uses performance theory and various performing artists as models to work out a set of theorized strategies for "queers of color survival" in a white supremacist homophobic world.
Muñoz, José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. NY: New York University Press, 2009.
Eng, David, and Alice Hom, eds. Q & A: Queer in Asian America. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1998.
Groundbreaking anthology wth 16 essays theorizing various dimensions of queerness in differing Asian American gender, class and etnic sub-contexts.
Rodrigues, Juana Maria.Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces. NY: NYU Press, 2003.
Draws on several case studies (from HIV activism to immigration to cyberspace) in an attempt to articulate and theorize several different modes of queer Latinness in a US/transnational context.
Freguson, Roderick. Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2003.
Aimed particularly at the absence of queer analysis in sociology, Ferguson puts forth a "queers of color analysis" analysis that demonstrates the mutually distorting discusions of political economy, race, and sexuality in mainstream sociological literature.
Valocci, Stephen and Robert Corder, eds. Queer Studies: An Interdisciplinary Reader. London: Blackwell, 2003.
Brings together influental essays by some of the best queer theorists demonstrating the rich possibilities of qt to illuminate a variety of topics across the disciplines and in the wider social world.
Johnson, E. Patrick, and Mae G. Henderson. Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2005.
Offers a number of rich essays exploring theoretical obstacles (disciplinary and political) to the creation of queer race theory, and offers perceptive possibilities for new critical insight at this intersection.

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