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Smith College’s ‘Queer Studies’ program seeks to ‘destabilize normative sexuality’

Program also looks to ‘destabilize systemic oppression,’ promote ‘resistance’

An area of study at an elite all-women’s college has the stated goal of “recognizing and disrupting notions of normative sexuality and gender.”

Smith College’s “Queer Studies” program, part of the school’s Study of Women and Gender department, also instructs students to “consider the historical and theoretical foundations of queer studies as well as the potential consequences…of a queer studies critique.”

“Queer studies,” the program’s website states, “forwards theories that deepen understandings of pleasure, loss, performativity, embodiment, visuality, representation, and resistance.”

Various courses offered under the area of study include “The Queer 90s,” “Oral History and Lesbian Subjects,” “Queering Don Quixote” and “Immigration and Sexuality.”

Queer Studies is one of the two “thematic foci” upon which Study of Women and Gender majors can focus, the other being “Race and Ethnic Studies.”

The College Fix reached out to Carrie Baker, an associate professor in the program, for comment on the matter of “destabilizing normative sexuality.” Baker directed The Fix to contact Jennifer DeClue, an assistant professor in the program. DeClue did not return requests for comment.

Smith College similarly did not return requests for comment.

In addition to a focus in Queer Studies, Smith College participates in the Five College Certificate in Queer and Sexuality Studies program, which provides a certificate to students who “successfully complete a total of seven courses, including one introductory course, at least one critical race and transnational studies course, and five other courses.”

“Queer Studies scholars,” the certificate’s description states, “challenge the isolation of sexuality from other aspects of social life and examine the boundaries not only of sexuality and gender, but also of race and nation.”

Under the certificate program, students can study a rubric of “queering the social sciences,” which allows participants to “explore forms of resistance (and backlash) that have emerged to challenge (or reinforce) the normative assumptions of state control over sexuality and gender expression.”

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Corrie Faith Lee -- Regent University

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