Take the Class

If you are a student at Colorado State University, one of the best ways to get involved in the work of the Queer Memory Project of Northern Colorado is to take our undergraduate classes on campus. The course will be offered for the second time in FALL 2022. It was previously offered in Spring 2022.

SPCM 380.A5: Communicating the Queer Past

For students enrolled at Colorado State University, the Department of Communication Studies offers an undergraduate course linked directly to the theories and practice of the work of the Queer Memory Project of Northern Colorado: SPCM 380A5: Communicating the Queer Past.

In this class, we ask questions like: how do we discover LGBTQ+ people in the past? What systems, practices, and beliefs make these pasts hard to find? Who benefits when the LGBTQ+ past is lost or forgotten? How do LGBTQ+ people–particularly LGBTQ+ youth–benefit from learning their past? How do issues of race, class, sex, gender, gender identity, sexuality, nationality, and ability shape what versions of the LGBTQ+ past is told and remembered? And in what forms can LGBTQ+ pasts be communicated to drive social, political, and cultural change? We consider these questions through selective readings, class discussions, and short writing exercises.

However, this class is not limited to reading other people’s work in a classroom.

Rather, during each semester in which the course is taught, students focus on an engaged research project on the queer past of Northern Colorado. That means that students will be expected to spend time researching, discovering, creating, debating, and communicating new evidence of the LGBTQ+ past during the semester. This work will include visits to digital and/or physical archives, guest speakers from the local community, building digital tools, and talking to audiences outside the class about our work. The work is for and based in the class; however, students also have the opportunity to contribute their revised classwork directly to the Queer Memory Project of Northern Colorado and help share the region’s LGBTQ+ past with public audiences. In this way, the class is an outstanding combination of the study of communication with local LGBTQ+ subject matter.

Meet the Instructor

SPCM 380.A5 is taught by Dr. Tom Dunn. Dr. Dunn identifies as a cisgender gay man, his pronouns are he/him/his, and he is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Colorado State University. He is also the founder and director of the Queer Memory Project of Northern Colorado, a project that was made possible by his appointment as one of the university’s prestigious Monfort Professors from Fall 2020-Spring 2023. Dr. Dunn has also been recognized as a highly regarded teacher and mentor, having won a CLA Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015 and served as the coordinator of the Master Teacher Initiative in the College of Liberal Arts from 2019-2021.

Tom Dunn

Dr. Dunn has been studying the subject of “queer memory” since 2005. In particular, Dr. Dunn’s research focuses on how LGBTQ+ people, communities, and institutions tell stories about their shared pasts in order to advocate for social, political, and cultural change in the present. He is the author of the 2016 book Queerly Remembered: Rhetorics for Representing the GLBTQ Past, which was named the “book of the year” by LGBTQ Communication Studies Division of the National Communication Association. He is currently at work on a new book on memories of the “pink triangles” in U.S.-American memory before HIV/AIDS. In addition, he has written several award-winning essays and book chapters on different figures and features in the queer past. These include writings on the memory of LGBTQ+ people like Matthew Shepard, Alexander Wood, Natalie Barney, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Oscar Wilde, David Bowie, and participants in the ballroom film Paris Is Burning. He has also written on subjects like LGBTQ+ textbook representation, bi-invisibility, transgender public memory, lesbian memory strategies, queering cemeteries, and queer rhetorics in Ancient Egypt.

In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Dunn has been an active part of several LGBTQ+ communities during his career. He was a member of the first LGBTQ+ student organization as an undergraduate at the University of Richmond and president of the graduate student LGBTQ+ organization at Syracuse University. He also lead the REEL QUEER Film Festival in Upstate New York in 2005. In Boston, he was a trained speaker for Speak Out Boston, the nation’s oldest LGBTQIA speakers bureau. Dr. Dunn has also been an active LGBTQ+ leader in different academic organizations, including as Publicity Chair and Chair of the Archive Committee for the National Communication Association Caucus on GLBTQ Concerns. He has been invited to serve in an advisory role to a Colorado historical institution, as well.

Dr. Dunn has lived and worked in Fort Collins for a decade with his partner/husband. Together, they have a two-year-old daughter and a dog.

Who can take the class?

The current version of the course is open to CSU undergraduates from across the university. That means you can take the course regardless of your major or minor. However, as a 300-level course, enrollment is restricted to second year students and higher at CSU. In other words: first year students (i.e. “freshmen” ) cannot enroll in the course.

Graduate students also cannot enroll in this course as part of their degree programs. Graduate students enrolled in the M.A. or Ph.D. program in Communication Studies at CSU may be able to join the class as a volunteer GTA. Interested graduate students in the Department of Communication Studies should speak with Dr. Dunn directly about such possibilities.

While there is not currently a graduate-level class approximating SPCM 380.A5 on the books at CSU, graduate students might consider enrolling in Dr. Dunn’s SPCM 792: Queer Rhetoric(s): Theory, Criticism, and Production, which is currently scheduled to be taught in Spring 2023.

How do I enroll?

CSU students should follow the typical enrollment process to register for SPCM 380A5. More information on how to register for class is available from the University’s Registrar website. Students with additional questions about registration should speak with their Academic Advisor or their home department.

Some useful information to keep in mind as you register for the FALL 2022 version of the class:

  • Course Number: SPCM 380A5
  • Course Section Number: 01 (there is only one section of the class)
  • Course Registration Number (CRN): 73125
  • Instructor’s name: Thomas Dunn
  • Department the Class is Taught in: Communication Studies (SPCM)

The course is capped at 40 students. If the class fills prior to your chance to enroll in the course, you should join the class waitlist. If students drop the class, students on the waitlist will have the opportunity to join the class in the order in which they joined the waitlist. You can find out more about waitlists on the Registrar’s website.

When will the class be offered again?

The class is currently enrolling for Fall 2022. A graduate version of the class will be taught in Spring 2023.

I still have questions…

If you’ve reviewed the information above and you still have questions about the class, please contact Dr. Dunn directly at thomas.dunn@colostate.edu. E-mail is the best way to reach him as he is in the office less frequently due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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