COOL CLASSES: “Cruising Home: Queer Kinship in Theory and Practice”

An English course that asks what is at stake for queer people in their persistent desires to build home, community, and social movements.

Class name: “Cruising Home: Queer Kinship in Theory and Practice

Taught By: Visiting Assistant Professor of English Jaclyn Pryor

Here’s what Pryor has to say about the course:

“Cruising Home” is about the longing to belong. This course asks what is at stake, for queer people, in our persistent desires to build home, community, and social movements. We begin the course by thinking through issues of settler colonialism and Native American genocide. I want students, particularly non-Native queers, to question our desires to belong in the first place, to realize it is messy and fraught. Next we think through tensions that queer people experience between and among our families of origin and our chosen families—which can include friends, partners, lovers, and ex-lovers, as well as our bio families. We look at narratives of coming out, exile, diaspora, and returning home, thinking through the very material and emotional obstacles that queer people face in moving away from home, and in departing from normative regulations of gender, sexuality, and citizenship. In this sense, this course is not only about the politics of desire but a meditation on the politics of loss. I am an eternal optimist, so we end the course thinking about queer friendship—how queer people find home in one another. In practical terms, this means we end by watching The Wizard of Oz. Students also make a series of live performances along the way, putting all this theory into immediate practice.

I created this course, in part, because I am currently writing about many of these themes in my book, Time Slips: Queer Temporalities in Performance After 2001, and so I wanted to think out loud and with brilliant young people. What if, I ask, instead of thinking of home as a fixed place we consider it a doing, a feeling, a performative? As an itinerant scholar, a traveler, a Jew, an artist, an immigrant, and a queer, I have often felt that my life is defined by movement, not stasis. So, too, with college students, right? Regardless of their identity positions, they have all recently left their families of origin; they have come here to this beautiful, strange place we called Haverford College; and they are trying to make a life from scratch; to find home, community, belonging, friendship—maybe even love. What does it all mean?  I hope this class is a space where we can figure it out together. I hope, too, in some small way, our classroom can become a kind of intellectual and political home unto itself.


See what other courses the English Department is offering this semester.
Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience.

Photo: “WIZARD OF OZ ORIGINAL POSTER 1939” by MGM. Licensed under public domain via Wikimedia Commons.