This course will explore the role of cinema in shaping the history of gender and sexuality, at the same time introducing students to some of the most relevant texts in the field of queer and gender studies. While the last decades have been characterized by increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians into mainstream society, this process has no doubt reproduced new inequalities and asymmetries – in terms of race, class, and gender presentation. Does “queer” still pose a threat to the mainstream or is it now part of the “normal”? Should one welcome the progressive acceptance or queer lives within the mainstream or should one reject it in the name of an indissoluble difference? These are some of the questions this course will engage, addressing themes such as the notion of the closet in classical Hollywood cinema; the queer aesthetics of art cinema directors such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Pedro Almodovar; the AIDS crisis and the intersection between race and sex in 1990s “new queer films” such as Greg Araki’s The Living End and Cheryl Dunye’s Watermelon Woman. Readings may include Butler, Foucault, Freud, Sedgwick, Wilderson, Bersani, and Edelman, among others.