This Tuesday, 1-2pm, in SB317, University of Sussex. All welcome!
Cassandra Smith (English, Sussex)
‘Reclaiming Scars: Thinking through Trans Bodies’
Chair: Dr. Akshay Khanna (IDS)
Abstract: This paper is based on my Masters dissertation. I am based in the Sexual Dissidence in Literature and Culture programme at the University of Sussex.
Jay Prosser has argued that Judith Butler’s usage of trans identities to mobilise queer and to refute essentialist feminist narratives has foreclosed the material and embodied aspects of trans-experience from theorisation. He has suggested a turn of trans theory away from Butlerian Queer Theory and towards Corporeal Feminism(s). This paper reads this turn as a shifting of relational or genealogical orientation, or perhaps fidelity/ allegiance, within the structure of the theoretical family tree, and examines the implications of such a move.
The conclusions Prosser draws about the trans relation to the material body are potentially re- essentialising and reductive, and in taking up his work I seek to avoid recapitulating these problems. At the same time, I expand upon the connections he draws between Trans Theory and Corporeal Feminism in order to explore how power, agency and resistance may operate through the relationship between the body and the text within trans medical and autobiographical narratives.
I will discuss how historically within the (trans) medical and autobiographical genres oppressive constructions of the body/ text relationship have been used to strip trans subjects of their agency. Taking up Jane Gallop’s notion of “thinking through the body” I will ask how, in response to this, we might we “think through the trans body/trans bodies” as bodies of resistance. In addressing this question I will look specifically at Prosser’s idea of the subject in/as transition; Gallop’s concept of “trans-genre” narratives; the motiff of “the scar” within trans narratives; and Sarah Ahmed’s work on sensitivity to stigma as a queer methodology.
I am a second year Masters student (part-time) in the Sexual Dissidence in Literature and Culture programme. Within my general research and activism I am interested in furthering an agenda that is queer, feminist and anti-racist; that is sex and kink positive; and that addresses the needs of those who have experienced gender based violence and/or who have mental health issues. Within this paper I address specifically my interest in the relationship between Transgender and Feminist Theory and the role of affect and the body in theory.