Interdisciplinary Concentration in Lesbian/Gay/Queer Studies

After two years of work by CLAGS board members and supporters, an “Interdisciplinary Concentration” in Lesbian/Gay/Queer studies has been approved at the The Graduate Center, CUNY. This means that CUNY students pursuing PhDs in traditional disciplines may choose at the same time to complete a concentration in LGQ studies. It’s still a long way from a PhD program in LGQ studies, but it’s a huge achievement. Indeed, as far as we know, CUNY is now the only graduate program in the US to approve such a concentration.

The next step, we hope, will be to upgrade the “concentration” into a Certificate Program, which would award doctoral students from any academic department formal recognition of their specialization in LGQ Studies. (Such certificates are currently available at CUNY in Women’s Studies, Film Studies, American Studies, and other fields.)

For the time being, though, the Interdisciplinary Concentration in LGQ Studies is already making important headway. For starters, The Graduate Center’s approval of this program helps to legitimate the field at CUNY and beyond, and it also encourages professors in a range of disciplines to include queer content in their courses.

What is more, it allows the Graduate Center to offer a new core course, “Introduction to Lesbian/Gay/Queer Studies,” and also to list in each semester’s catalogue, cognate courses across the disciplines that are relevant to LGQ Studies.

The concentration will begin in the Fall 2000 semester with Mark Blasius teaching the core course, along with guest seminar leaders from the CUNY faculty and elsewhere to round out the interdisciplinary nature of the course. (Mark is a political scientist specializing in political and social theory. He has taught and published lesbian/gay/queer political studies for over 10 years, was a steering committee member for the 1996 CLAGS conference “Identity/Space/Power”—editing a book collecting many of the conference papers that will be published this fall by Princeton University Press as Sexual Identities, Queer Politics, and is a CLAGS board member). The Fall list of cognate courses will include 14 offerings from the programs in English, Comparative Literature, History, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Theater, and Women’s Studies. In future semesters, we hope that even more programs will contribute their courses to our roster.

A “boilerplate” description of the course, submitted as part of the proposal for the interdisciplinary concentration, is printed below. Each time the class is taught, of course, the syllabus will vary according to the instructor’s pedagogical and methodological orientation, but it will always remain interdisciplinary. Its syllabus will be available at the CLAGS website (this summer for the first offering) at www.clags.org. Recognition is due to those who contributed to writing the proposal for the program, including the course description and syllabus: Robert Ausch, Mark Blasius, Linda Camarasana, Paisley Currah, Jill Dolan, Robert Kaplan, Mark McBeth, and Alisa Solomon. For further information about the course, contact the CLAGS office or Mark Blasius at mblasius@gc.cuny.edu.