Talks

Upcoming:

  • “The Invention of the Transgender Child.”

Society for Literature, Science and the Arts Annual Meeting, Dallas (October 9)
American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Los Angeles (November).
Things (Re)Called: Memory and Materiality Across Disciplines, Yale (November 15)

This presentation articulates a genealogy of the transgender child by returning to the endocrinological and eugenic     definition of sex and invention of gender in the twentieth century medical sciences. I resituate the history of endocrinology and its interest in the growing child’s body as part of a broader medical and political strategy of positive eugenics that saw in hormones and the endocrine system the promise of an unlimited enhancement of human stock or species.  Children’s bodies, to this discourse living examples of recapitulative theories of human evolution, served as crucial sites for a set of utopian and socialist eugenic aspirations in interwar Europe whose techniques were inherited by the founding American doctors of transgender medicine in the mid twentieth century.  While most contemporary doctors and scholars date the emergence of the transgender child to the 1990s or even more recently, this genealogy emphasizes what that periodization overlooks and offers a surprising history that details how children were treated in the United States as ‘transsexual’ beginning in the 1960s.
  • “A Racial Memory of the Matter of Sex: Aesthetic Values of Archive and Body”

Concussions, Commotions, and Other Aesthetic Disorders, University of Chicago
(November)

This presentation takes a genealogy and its archive as a diffuse object of reflection on the disordering aesthetic value of the body in critical theoretical writing on race and sex. Genealogy, while proffered by Michel Foucault as an explicitly disordering method for archival excavation of the relation of truth to event, and of cause to effect, is nonetheless also a totalizing mapping of the social. Where Foucault pinpoints that genealogy is always attached to “the body,” this presentation demurs and suspends itself within an archive to ask after the aesthetic value in the humanities attached to the racialized and sexed bodying forth of discrete objects of critical knowledge.
This problematic is pursued, specifically, within an archive assembled for a dissertation investigating the genealogy of the transgender child, tracking the incorporation of the endocrinological body as a medical and politically actionable subject and object since the early nineteenth century. Suspending the mode of reading the archive and its body (where, indeed, a suspected metalepsis might sustain the two) that falls under the name of “biopolitics,” I interrogate the aesthetic value of the archival materials and correspondent materiality of “race” and “sex” before their mapping as fully socialized categories of knowledge. How does “the body” rely on “the archive” for mutually reinforcing epistemological stabilization? Is there a materialist realism latent within the fragmented collection of an archive and the method of genealogy that could give itself towards different aesthetic values than individualized bodies with ordered representational attributes? And if so, what reading practices could such a project experiment with in the course of rumination that assembles and archive to produce “a” genealogy of “the” transgender child while affirming the most disordering aesthetic values of the bodily materiality of race and sex within the ambit of an era so easily reduced to the name biopower?

 

Recent:

2014

 

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