That’s So Gay!
Queer Texts in the U.S.

First-Year Inquiry Writing Seminar (FIQWS)

Fall 2018


Jesse Rice-Evans, Adjunct Lecturer | (646) 801-1462

T/R 3:30-4:45; NAC 1/301Y

City College of New York


“Part of what undoes shame is to be heard, to be seen… I did that on a grand scale. I don’t want people to look at me and go, see, queer people, this is how it’s done. It’s like, no, this is how it shouldn’t have to be done.”

Hannah Gadsby


“So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.”

Audre Lorde

Gender is facing an identity crisis: queer identities in the new era of gender and genre are subverting paradigms of communication and genre by working with language and narrative in new ways. Queer biography and autobiography mark an important turn in contemporary literature and poetics: the shift from a male-dominant gaze towards a kaleidoscopic perspective on queer embodiment, trans and non-binary narrative, and speculative writing about other worlds & possibilities, which offer us as readers new opportunities for storytelling and thinking about writing. These forms also make space for other identities traditionally excluded from mainstream cultural narrative spaces, and we’re witnessing the emergence of queerness as digital, hybrid, and ephemeral. This course will center the expanding lexicon offered by queer writers, and ground students through including some of the queer studies canon.


***CONTENT NOTE***: Many of the texts we’ll be examining deal with complex issues of violence, abuse, and trauma. Please do what you need to in order to prepare yourself for frank discussions of these themes and more. I will do my best to provide more specific content warnings throughout the semester as well.


CLASS CONSTITUTION: We will collaboratively discuss our commitments to our classroom as a space of communal learning and diverse experience. You will be expected to adhere to our agreements throughout the semester, both in-class and online.


Course Learning Outcomes

After taking FIQWS, you should be able to:

1) Gather, interpret, and assess information from a variety of sources and points of view

2) Produce well-reasoned written or oral arguments using evidence to support conclusions

3) Articulate how meaning is created in the arts or communications and how experience is interpreted and conveyed

4) Use appropriate technologies to conduct research and to communicate

5) Demonstrate knowledge of the skills involved in the creative process


Course Policies

What’s Up with FIQWS?

Prof. Stella and I are collaborating to bring you these courses. This means that we communicate regularly and collaborate on grades, assignments, and your overall performance in the courses; we strongly recommend that you give each section of this course your full attention.


Student Code of Conduct

All student members of the College community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates mutual respect for the rights and personal/academic well-being of others, preserves the integrity of the social and academic environment, and supports the mission of the College. The College has an inherent right to address behavior that impedes, obstructs, or threatens the maintenance of order and attainment of the aforementioned goals by violating the standards of conduct set forth in the University student conduct policies noted below as well as other policies that may be established by the respective Schools, Global Sites, and administrative offices of the University. The goals of the CCNY Community Standards are:

  • To promote an environment that supports the overall mission of the University
  • To protect the University community from disruption and harm
  • To encourage appropriate standards of individual and group behavior
  • To foster ethical values and civic virtues
  • To foster personal learning and growth while at the same time holding individuals and groups accountable to the standards of expectations established by the Code of Conduct


Lateness and Absences

Please do your best to arrive on time and remain in our in-person classes until dismissed. I understand that train snafus are real #MTAproblems but it’s disruptive to the class to have folks coming and going throughout. That said, no need to ask permission from me to visit the washroom or take a breather. I’ll likely take this opportunity myself!

Regarding absences, please note: Much of the learning in this course happens through your engagement with me and your peers in class via class discussion and group interaction. Your course projects will be sequential and in-class activities will build toward larger assignments. Class time and online discussions will be highly interactive, requiring frequent participation, discussion, composing in and outside of class, and responding to your classmates’ work. For this reason, I expect you to attend all class meetings and post by the due dates on the days we work outside of class. I will post all assignments on the “Schedule” page of our course blog, but it is up to you to keep up with your work for the class. Just because we only meet on Tuesdays does not mean that we don’t have “class” throughout the week—only that you will have work due instead of coming to a face-to-face class meeting.

Having established this policy, note that you can miss class up to 2 times, no questions asked. Only religious holidays constitute excused absences; beyond that I do not have excused or unexcused absences. Any absence, up to your second one, is excused with no questions asked. VERY IMPORTANT, per the City College Department of English, at your 3rd absence, and for each absence beyond it (including 2 missed labor logs/text responses), your final course grade will be lowered by up to one letter grade (an A becomes a B and so on)—and your grade likely will be otherwise affected simply because of the activities and work you’ll miss.

If you must miss class, let me know ahead of time if possible to make sure you stay caught up. If you miss unexpectedly, check the schedule on our course website and reach out to your writing group or another colleague to see what you missed so you can stay up with your work. If you miss class, please do not email me asking what we did in class, or, worse, if we did anything in class you should know about. If an assignment is due on a day that you miss because of an unexcused absence, you are responsible for keeping up with the daily schedule and contacting someone in the class to see what you missed and for turning in your work at the same time it was due for those who were in class.


Late Assignments

I do not accept late work. I teach two classes, work at a writing center, work as a technology fellow, and am a full-time graduate student. I deserve to have a life outside of my work, and if I am constantly accepting work at erratic times from 50+ students I cannot do that. 

All work is due at the time specified within the assignment details. If you’re not already in the habit of turning your work in on time, I encourage you to develop the practice and will try to help you in that endeavor in this course. Please note that technology issues, including files you turn in that I cannot open, do not constitute an excuse for late work. Double check your files before and after you submit them to make sure your peers and I who will be reviewing them can open them. As you may have learned the hard way in the past, it’s a good habit to save important files such as course work to a location aside from your laptop or whatever device you may use for your classes—for example, Google Drive. Hard drives crash, thumb drives get lost, and laptops, tablets, and phones can get stolen. While I’ll be sad along with you if this happens, it’s your responsibility to make sure you back up your work so that life—and your effective participation in this course—can go on.

All online work will be due the Monday before our F2F classes by 11:59pm


Accessibility and Inclusion

If you have a disability or a personal circumstance that will affect your learning in this course, or if you need a reasonable (or even unreasonable) accommodation, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can discuss the best ways to meet your needs. This goes triply for folks with non-visible disabilities or who pass or mask or compensate. No need to do that here. I am happy to meet with students to discuss ways of expanding access in the classroom that are not only mandated by law, but please feel no obligation to train me.

To arrange accommodations in other classrooms and City College spaces, please call the AccessAbility Center/Student Disability Services at (212) 650-5913 or email them at

Basic Needs: Any student who faces challenges securing their food or housing and believes this may affect their performance in the course is urged to contact the Dean of Students for support. Furthermore, please notify me if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable me to provide any resources that I may possess.



There is only one required text for this course: Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom. This book is available in the CCNY Bookstore and online from Amazon and Metonymy Press. Here, on our Commons site, you will find links to the other pieces we’ll be reading throughout the semester.


Participation: Or What I Expect From You and What You Can Expect From Me What I Expect From You

I expect that you will attend each class and complete the assignments due—which includes posting your online assignments by each Monday evening. Not only will your weekly writing grade suffer if you do not, but you will not get as much out of this class as you otherwise could. Learning is a collaborative activity, and I expect that you will be attentive to, engaged with, and respectful of everyone in the class, both in face-to-face and online settings. I also want to remind you not to abuse our classroom space or our online space. You’re welcome and encouraged to bring devices, including smartphones, to class, but please refrain from checking your email, Facebook, and other personal interests that are available through the web while we are in class.

The web will be a great resource for our class, but make sure when you’re online that what you’re doing relates directly to what we’re doing in class. I expect that in online discussions you will be respectful of the other members of the class and treat them as you want to be treated. I ask that we all be respectful of one another and the wonderfully diverse opinions, racial identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations, social classes, abilities, religious beliefs, and ethnicities among us.

In the same spirit, written work in this course should employ inclusive language, which shows that the writer honors the diversity of the human race by not using language that would universalize one element of humanity to the exclusion of others. For example, use men and women or people instead of the generic man; use they or alternate he and she instead of the generic he.


What You Can Expect From Me

I will treat you with respect and will spend a good deal of time this semester giving you feedback on your writing for your major projects, commensurate to the amount of time you spend on your writing. I will read your weekly online posts, and while I may not respond to each one of them, I will assign each of them a participation/completion grade and will give you feedback on your posts at midterm and at the end of the semester.


Academic Integrity

Plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated. Plagiarism is defined as word-for-word copying, paraphrasing, or summarizing, without explaining that the language or ideas have come from another writer. No passage of writing, no matter how short, can be copied, paraphrased, or summarized without acknowledge its original source. Plagiarism is copying and using other people’s words without proper acknowledgment or citation as it is indicated in the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity. You are expected to read, understand, and adhere to this policy

We will also discuss how remix and other strategies in digital writing complicate what we might traditionally think of as plagiarism, but also, ways to implement these strategies appropriately and preserve authorly integrity.


Food & Drink

You may bring a drink and/or a snack, but you are expected to clean up after yourself and be extremely careful and attentive to your surroundings.


From City College’s Center for Teaching and Learning:

Hybrid and online learning explore the potential for learning at a distance. Students can participate as their schedules allow and use instructional technologies for group work and collaboration. Online learning also relieves the college of classroom space demands during peak teaching times.

Hybrid learning arguably combines “the best of both worlds”: face-to-face contact between instructor and students with unlimited options that various technology tools can offer. Hybrid learning provides more support for those students while giving more flexibility to those with multiple responsibilities in their lives. Hybrid learning is one of the fastest growing and most successful instructional delivery models, as it uses a wide variety of tools to reach different types of students.



Digital & F2F Participation:  The expectation for this hybrid course is that you participate in the various ways that we connect for class, whether that be in person, through Commons posts, with videos, etc. The most successful learning experience comes when students are engaged in the process.


Labor Logs: We meet for 16 weeks, and you can choose 13 weeks to log your course labor. These logs will include time that you’ve put in researching, writing, procrastinating, or working on something unrelated to the class. We will reflect on these labor logs once a month in class to see if there’s any patterns in the way we structure our time and what takes precedence. Prof. Stella (and possibly Rice-Evans) will be completing these logs along with you.

Research Unit: We will go in depth into database research, understanding what different sources provide and when it is appropriate to use them.  This section will involve research on a topic that you explore in the “topic” section with Prof. Rice-Evans. There will be multiple artifacts, one includes a reflective annotated bibliography.

Audience Unit: This will include time looking at different ways audience is evoked in different rhetorical situations; we will do this from a number of angles that will include “academic” and “non-academic” rhetorical situations.  

“Writing” Unit: “Writing” is in quotes intentionally — the major artifact you create during this portion of the class may or may not take the form of an essay.  This section will include a combination of labor logs, research, and a tangible product that shows best expresses the research you have completed.

Educate Unit: No one wants to be talked at during a presentation.  This section will culminate in an educational presentation given to a small group of students that will require a demonstrative section where we do active learning.  

Digital Portfolio: A final portfolio that will house versions of your artifacts on a digital platform of your choosing.


Peer Reviews & Self-Assessments: For each essay assignment, you’ll be asked to use the criteria listed in the assignments to review your peers’ essays as well as your own. Your goal here is to create a positive, supportive learning environment. While we are all learning to write (no matter how good we already are), we are also expert readers. The fact that you may struggle to produce a particular kind of essay doesn’t mean that you can’t evaluate another student’s essay. On the contrary, reading someone else’s work can not only assist that writer but it can also give you insight into your own writing.

We’ll be basing our peer reviews on Richard Straub’s “Responding–Really Responding–to Other Students’ Writing”



This course will focus on qualitative not quantitative assessment, something we’ll discuss during the class, both with reference to your own work and the works we’re studying. While you will get a final grade at the end of the term, I will not be grading individual assignments, but rather asking questions and making comments that engage your work rather than simply evaluate it. You will also be reflecting carefully on your own work and the work of your peers.

The intention here is to help you focus on working in a more organic way, as opposed to working as you think you’re expected to. If this process causes more anxiety than it alleviates, see me at any point to confer about your progress in the course to date. If you are worried about your grade, your best strategy should be to join the discussions, do the reading, and complete the assignments. You should consider this course a “busy-work-free zone.” If an assignment does not feel productive, we can find ways to modify, remix, or repurpose the instructions.

Here are a few readings about this policy:

“Why I Don’t Grade” by Jesse Stommel

“How to Ungrade” by Jesse Stommel

“(Un)Grading: It Can Be Done in College” by Laura Gibbs

“My Grading System FAQ” by Traci Gardner

“Labor Log” by Traci Gardner

“All Teachers Should Be Trained to Overcome Their Hidden Biases” by SORAYA CHEMALY




The Commons!

Welcome to the CUNY Commons!


The Writing Center

The CCNY Writing Center offers a supportive learning environment where students can have one-on-one tutoring sessions with writing consultants. It is a great resource for you to obtain extra help as you write and revise your papers. They DO NOT proofread your papers, but offer assistance on improving certain aspects of them. They also offer ESL tutoring. To set up an appointment or semester-long sessions, contact them in person at the Writing Center, which is located in the NAC, 3rd floor plaza or call (212) 650-8104.


Gateway Advising Center, NAC 1/220

Students without a declared major can receive academic advising, especially if you have questions about your course of study, core requirements, etc.


AccessAbility Center Tutoring Services, NAC 1/218

Provides one-on-one tutoring and workshops to all registered students with learning or physical disabilities.


SEEK Peer Academic Learning Center, NAC 4/224

Phone: 212-650-5786; email:

Offers counseling and peer tutoring for students in need of academic and financial support who have registered for the SEEK Program.


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