FSEM 100C7 | Sexuality in Southern Literature


This section of FSEM is designated as an honors course and satisfies the requirements for students enrolled in the University Honors Program.

This Honors first-year seminar will explore how southern literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries asks you to think about sexuality in both broad terms and regionally-specific contexts. The seminar will: give you a useful critical vocabulary about sexuality; allow you to see how regional and sexual identities are potentially mutually constitutive; ideally complement your lived experiences, especially now, when you are negotiating your sexualities and regional identities in new or newly complicated ways at the beginning of college; introduce you to the ways that literature is a central cultural mode for handling the complexities of sexuality; and, perhaps most exciting, expose you to a range of amazing southern texts, including novels such as James Dickey’s Deliverance and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina; short stories by Richard Wright, Eudora Welty, and Randall Kenan; and plays such as Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Photo of Gary Richards, Professor of English, Linguistics, and Communication

Gary Richards, Professor of English, Linguistics, and Communication

I am a professor of U.S. literature with an area of focus on the U.S. South. I’ve published widely in this field, including Lovers and Beloveds: Sexual Otherness in Southern Fiction, 1936-1961, one of the first books to look at sexuality in southern literature. More recently, I’ve shifted from southern fiction to southern drama with an emphasis on Tennessee Williams and to the Broadway musical (My other FSEM focuses on Stephen Sondheim.). I’ve been at UMW for over a decade now and serve as the chair of the Department of English, Linguistics, and Communication.