+ Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \

Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies

Students in Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies explore the cultural and historical construction of sex, sexuality and gender in cross-cultural contexts. The program examines the lives of sexual and gender minorities throughout history, as well as the relation of gender and sexuality to the social body more generally.


Student Profile: Julia Cilano '23

Julia Cilano '23

Majors: Critical Studies and Queer Studies, English, French and Francophone Studies

“Being a queer person, I couldn’t look to my grandparents to tell me about my history; I had to turn to the margins of history books. When I came to HWS, I enrolled in a Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies introductory course and my worldview will never be the same. My eyes were opened to queer history, queer theory and intersectional analyses that include race, ability, class and religion. What I learn in CSQS courses is constantly applicable, relevant and crucial to understanding politics, activism and systems of power.​​”

Meet Our Faculty

The Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies faculty have scholarly interests as diverse as the subject itself. Scroll below to meet our team of innovators, scholars and above all, dedicated teachers. Meet the entire department >

Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies News

Commencement 2022: “Your Education Matters More than Ever”
Lavender Graduation 2021
“I Can’t Change” with Grammy-nominated Mary Lambert
More Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies News

Sample Courses

Class Complete Course List

Introduction to Critical Sexuality and Queer Studies
This course introduces students to key concepts, events, and movements in the history of the contemporary CSQS (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) and queer politics in the United States. Topics include: the relationships between gender, sex, and sexuality; the emergence of an identifiable LGB social movement in the United States; queer and trans critiques of LGB politics; and major issues for contemporary queer studies, including, for example, the politics of gay marriage, gay military service, and prison abolition. Drawing on interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches to CSQS and queer social identities, cultures, and political movements, we will explore some of the following questions: What does it mean to “have a sexuality”? How do race, class, gender, dis/ability and citizenship status shape experiences and expressions of sexual identities? How have sexual and gender minorities organized themselves in the United States, and with what impact on the broader culture?