ENGL 378 - Special Topics in Theories/Methods: Trans* Theory
This course provides an overview to prominent texts and debates within the history of trans* theory from the 1990s until the present. While we will consider the limits to identitarian approaches, the course centers texts by written by trans* identified scholars, activists, and writers. We begin by tracing the emergence of the field of trans* studies in its critique of sexology and queer theory and in its exploration of narrative, affect, technology, and embodiment. We then study recent work in trans of color critique, work that argues that attention to slavery and its afterlives trouble the distinctions between cis- and trans-. We also consider the relations between transgender politics, settler colonialism, and the nation state. The course includes the analysis of two contemporary novels: Kai Cheng Thom’s Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars and Imogen Binnie’s Nevada. Course meetings focus extensively on the assigned readings. We analyze the texts together, carefully and slowly. Students write one essay: either focusing on the theoretical texts or bringing the theory to bear on the analysis of the assigned novels.
Broad Learning Goals:
- Students should develop a comprehensive understanding of trans* theory. They should be able to draw on aspects of that theory in the analysis of culture.
- Students should engage in critical writing sufficient to introduce them to argumentation built upon theoretical discourse.
- Readings are on Canvas.
- Please also get a copy of Kai Cheng Thom’s Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars and Imogen Binnie’s Nevada. I have ordered both to the University Bookstore
Monday, March 30: Course introduction on Zoom
The Emergence of Trans* Theory
Wednesday, April 1: Sandy Stone, “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” Camera Obscura 10.2 (1992): 150-176.
Monday, April 6: Susan Stryker, “My Words To Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix.” GLQ 1 (1994): 237-254.
Wednesday, April 8: Katrina Roen, “Transgender Theory and Embodiment: The Risk of Racial Marginalization,” Journal of Gender Studies 10.3 (2001): 253-263.
David Valentine, Introduction. Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).
Friday, April 10: Zero draft 1 due
Trans* Felt Sense/ Trans* Phenomenology
Monday, April 13: Jay Prosser, “A Skin of One’s Own: Toward a Theory of Transsexual Embodiment,” Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998).
Wednesday, April 15: Dean Spade, “Mutilating Gender,” Makezine (Spring 2000).
Friday, April 17: Zero draft 2 due
Monday, April 20: Andrea Long Chu, “The Wrong Wrong Body: Notes on Trans Phenomenology,” TSQ 4.1 (2017): 141-152.
Wednesday, April 22: Jian Neo Chen, “Performing Racial Trans Senses,” Trans Exploits: Trans of Color Cultures and Technologies in Movement (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019), p. 30-57.
Friday, April 24: Zero draft 3 due
Capitalism and Transness
Monday, April 27: Michelle O’Brien, “Tracing This Body: Transsexuality, Pharmaceuticals, and Capitalism,” in The Transgender Studies Reader 2, ed. Susan Stryker and Aren Z. Aizura (New York: Routledge, 2015): 56-65.
Dan Irving, “Normalized Transgressions: Legitimizing the Transsexual Body as Productive,” Radical History Review 100 (2008): 38-59.
Wednesday, April 29: Reading day
Friday, May 1: Zero draft 4 due
Monday, May 4: Discussion of Nevada
Wednesday, May 6: Discussion of Nevada
Friday, May 8: Zero draft 5 due
Contemporary Trans* of Color Critique
Monday, May 11: Marquis Bey, “The Trans*-ness of Blackness, the Blackness of Trans*-ness,” Transgender Studies Quarterly 4.2 (2017): 275-295.
Wednesday, May 13: Jules Gill-Peterson, “Trans of Color Critique before Transsexuality,” TSQ 5.4 (2018): 606–620.
Friday, May 15: Zero draft 6 due
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars
Monday, May 18: No class, reading day
Wednesday, May 20: Discussion of the novel
Friday, May 22: Zero draft 7 due
Monday, May 25: Discussion of the novel
After Trans Studies?
Wednesday, May 27: Andrea Long Chu and Emmett Harsin Drager, “After Trans Studies,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 6.1 (February 2019): 103 – 116.
Jules Gill-Peterson with Gabby Benavente. “The Promise of Trans Critique: Susan Stryker’s Queer Theory.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 25.1 (January 2019): 23-28.
Friday, May 29: Zero draft 8 due (brainstorm for your final essay)
Monday, June 1: No class, work on your essays
Wednesday, June 3: Peer review, rough draft due
Wednesday, June 10: Final draft due, Canvas