Deferring Resistance When Teaching Queer Theory at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Felicia Cosey


Queer theory taught at historically black colleges and universities often meets with resistance from students. This article proposes a means by which to overcome this resistance. Deferring resistance involves encouraging students to approach queer theory texts in the same vein as they have approached texts earlier in the course.  By building upon prior knowledge and connecting texts and coursework from earlier in the course, the student understands the placement of queer theory within the canon of literary criticism.  The technique of deferring resistance involves contriving instructor fallibility by mis-labeling queer theory readings as something other than what they are.  The purpose of mis-labeling texts is not deception but to lessen preconceived notions of an otherness or foreignness to queer theory.  Once students make the connections between the critics, from the classics to the formalists, to the structuralist, to the poststructuralist, they can fully appreciate the arguments made by queer theorists.


queer theory; literary criticism; pedagogy; historically black colleges and universities; HBCU

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