Queer Studies

Queer studies is a minor within the Department of Women's and Gender Studies.

Undergraduate minor

Queer Is Here

Where do our concepts of gender come from? Who is directing the struggle for rights for queer Americans? How has traditional history overlooked gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) citizens? As a queer studies student, you’ll examine a host of issues that contribute to our ideas about gender, identity, and character. Explore how sexuality, race, class, disability, and the legacies of colonialism collide to define people and how they live. Travel beyond Boy George and lavender linguistics to pioneer studies in this relatively new area of scholarship.

“The proposal for a minor in queer studies responds to student demand for courses on topics connected to this field, such as transgender history, sexualities, gay legal issues,” says Ellen Scott, who oversees the minor as head of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. “For the last several years students have expressed the desire for such a program. They’ve clearly demonstrated their enthusiasm.”

While working toward your minor degree, you’ll complete 24 credit hours of classes that cover everything from lesbian culture and sex and medical ethics to theories of marriage. Internship credits and study-abroad opportunities also can be used to satisfy some of the credit requirements.

We want to encourage students to think critically about the political and social questions that surround sexuality,” says Scott. “These questions are at the forefront now.”

Queer studies courses will help you explore the diversity of the LGBTQ communities, the history and present conditions of sexual identity formation, and the function of ideologies of sexuality. Help change the world with your newfound critical thinking skills by promoting respect in the workplace. Aid a city as it institutes its new gay-marriage law. Promote diversity in adoption rights. You’ll be able to create and foster a culturally responsive community wherever you go.

Points of Interest

  • The University of Oregon is the only institution in the state to offer an academic minor in queer studies.
  • Queer studies offerings include the Bruce Abrahams Essay Prize and the George A. Bean Memorial Scholarship, which is offered through the Office of Student Life.
  • The Linda Long Library Collection supports LGBTQ academic areas of study.

Sample Courses

  • Introduction to Queer Studies approaches sexuality as a complex social construction. The class looks at some of the historical and political contexts for understanding the field.
  • Queer Ethnic Literature explores major writers and topics in the queer African-American and queer U.S. Latina and Latino literary tradition. Writers include John Rechy and James Baldwin.
  • Queer Migrations concerns itself with the mobility and scale of queer social life. It takes a look at a variety of topics such as the study of queer tourism, queer immigration, and queer globalization.
  • Sex and Medical Ethics addresses contemporary issues that include queer theory, sexualities and genders, feminism and race, and global feminist theory.
  • See more courses offered by the Department of Women's and Gender Studies.

Practical Learning

For-profit and nonprofit agencies in Eugene welcome interns with an interest in queer studies. Work for COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and other organizations. In addition, the HIV Alliance and local queer-straight alliance youth groups often use regular student interns.

Meanwhile, study abroad opportunities include a program in the Netherlands that allows students with an interest in gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ issues to gain a cross-cultural perspective. Portions of the program are taught in Amsterdam, London, and Berlin.

Interdisciplinary Opportunities

The 24-plus faculty members affiliated with the program come from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives that include history, ethnic studies, English, classics, philosophy, Spanish, women’s and gender studies, religious studies, anthropology, and a host of other areas.

As a student, you’ll be encouraged to range across disciplines in the pursuit of scholarship. Take classes in postcolonial literature, female same-sex desire in modern China, or gender in medieval literature. Explore the folklore of sexuality and gender, or gender and the African Diaspora. No matter where you plan to create change and progress, queer studies will serve as a valuable and versatile addition to your major.

The Student Experience

Travis Prinslow is a political science and philosophy major who added the queer studies minor to his course work. He has volunteered for Basic Rights Oregon, a statewide advocacy group for LGBT issues. Prinslow testified before the state legislature in the 2007 session on Senate Bill 2, the statewide nondiscrimination law. “As an LGBT activist and long-time volunteer within the LGBT community, I wanted to understand how academia views and approaches the subject of LGBT history and the LGBT movement,” Prinslow says. “Ideally I would like to be an LGBT lobbyist at the state level and maybe even one day at the federal level.”

Erin Wulf is completing a bachelor’s degree in English with a queer studies minor. “I’ve always been interested in queer issues, but the town I grew up in didn’t really have a lot of opportunity to explore them,” says the Bend, Oregon, native. Wulf has volunteered with the group Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays in Eugene, and hopes to use her degrees to become an editor. “I would love to work with Torquere Press, which publishes gay and lesbian romances. I definitely feel a queer studies minor will help with that.”

Featured Faculty

Assistant Professor Lynn Fujiwara’s interests involve feminist theory with emphasis in Third World and critical race feminisms. She is particularly interested in issues pertaining to women of color, including immigration, citizenship, welfare, labor, and family. Her book, Mothers Without Citizenship: Asian Immigrant Families and the Consequences of Welfare Reform, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2008.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Reis focuses on U.S. women's history with an emphasis on early America, as well as the history of sexuality, religion, and medical ethics.  She teaches courses on feminist theory, sex and medical ethics, and transgender issues, as well as Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies and U.S. Women's History.  Reis is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England, published by Cornell University Press.

Assistant Professor Ernesto J. Martinez teaches and conducts research in the fields of American multi-ethnic literature; lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and queer studies; U.S. Latino and Latina literature; and literary theory. He is writing a book, Queers of Color and the Ethics of Social Literacy, which examines queer ethnic literature and its contributions to contemporary social theory.

Career Opportunities

Education, journalism, the law, personnel, public policy, social services, and all the health professions require workers who have cutting-edge knowledge about diversity issues. Students who complete this minor can bring their newfound knowledge to positions in government, industry, for-profit companies, and nonprofit organizations. Large companies and municipalities are hiring staff to work expressly with LGBT populations. In fact, a growing number of municipalities and cities in Oregon (Portland, Multnomah County, Eugene, and Ashland, for example) have enacted domestic partnership legal status for same-sex couples and families, leading to a need for individuals with expertise in the fields of human resources, legal counseling, and political activism. Help expand opportunities in this important area.

Department of Women's and Gender Studies

Contact Information
(541) 346-5529
(541) 346-0652 fax