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Transgendering Rhetorics

Workshop Leaders:

Isaac West, University of Iowa
KJ Rawson, College of the Holy Cross

Transgender studies is a burgeoning field of inquiry with all of the markers of academic legitimation including a journal (Transgender Studies Quarterly), academic positions, celebrated books, and conferences on the topic. In its many incarnations, transgender studies may study trans* lives, but it also often refuses to relegate itself to a proper object of study. Theories of trans* embodiments, genders, and sexualities are now employed to make sense of practices and texts that many not appear trans*. In this spirit, we want to think through the multiple purposes and aims of transgender studies as they relate to rhetorical studies. Rhetorical studies can contribute to this conversation with its attention to texts, contexts, situated performativities of identities, and the intersections of publics with everyday lives. This workshop will think through the convergences of these academic disciplines. Readings may include selections from essays more firmly grounded in rhetorical studies as well as Mel Chen’s Animacies, A. Finn Enke’s Transfeminist Perspectives, Gayle Salamon’s Assuming a Body, Dean Spade’s Normal Life, and Transgender Studies Reader, Vols. I and II.

We will ask workshop participants to present a work-in-progress that may already articulate itself to transgender studies or a piece that may benefit from further engagement with these literatures. We hope that participants will leave the workshop with greater knowledge of transgender studies and feedback on their own projects.

Questions should be directed to Isaac West, isaac-west@uiowa.edu


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