Course Number: 
44712

When applied to social work, queer theory offers a necessary framework for questioning notions of essential and stable identities, such as sexualities and genders. Additionally, queer theory may help social workers to render more complex understandings of normativity, deviance, race/ethnicity, and health/ability statuses, as well as class and privilege, all of which are relevant to social work. This course will begin by exploring a body of literature broadly defined as queer theory, engaging scholars, activists, and artists working at the intersections of multiple social locations, categories, and identities. Importantly, the course also attends to the limits of queer theory, highlighting scholarship that offers critical epistemological and theoretical interventions into the queer studies canon (e.g., Quare Theory/Black Queer Studies). In addition, the course will bring queer theory into conversation with emergent social work scholarship that considers how queer perspectives are best applied to social work practice, research, and policies that are oriented towards social justice. By focusing on the bidirectional relationship between queer theory and social work, the course will explore how best to use queer theories to address social inequality at multiple levels. Central questions to be explored include: How does applying a queer lens both align with and challenge current models of social work? What promises does queer theory hold for enacting critical and liberatory models of social work? In short, we will grapple with how to “queer” social work, and the limits and possibilities of such a “queering.” This will be accomplished by taking up a more critical, anti-oppressive, and liberatory stance, one that might re-shape the ways we think about and engage the individuals and communities we work alongside to achieve social justice.