TitleTowards a transgender sublime
NameSinger, Benjamin (author), Miller, Richard E. (chair), Kurnick, David (internal member), Jurecic, Ann (internal member), Stryker, Susan (outside member), Valentine, David (outside member), Love, Heather (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
DescriptionThis dissertation offers a corrective to limited interpretations of the category transgender across literary and medical discourses, as well as visual culture and new media. Most often, the term transgender is used as a stable category of personhood, or, alternately, as an umbrella term that encompasses all sex and gender variance. Such
usage results in reductive models in medical and educational contexts, as well as closed narrative structures in literary and popular cultural depictions of trans-subjectivity and embodiment. By contrast, I understand “transgender” as a proliferative matrix that
produces representations of rapidly shifting embodiments and identities that exceed sex/gender categorization. I theorize the effect of proliferation as the “transgender sublime” to account for encounters with representational excess—whether in public
health settings or popular culture—that can overwhelm perception and unsettle familiar ways of knowing. Insofar as it demands an interpretive practice based on “shimmering” mobility, this phenomenon harbors a transformative potential: a politics of transgender sublimity promotes categorical excess as a means to enable new modes of subjectivity. In the first chapter, I critique a widespread educational model called the
“transgender umbrella.” I identify the manner by which it represents, in visual form, the taxonomic excess that conditions transgender sublimity. The second chapter is an ethnographic study of a trans-specific harm reduction program that negotiates binarygendered
HIV-prevention strategies in public health worlds. I argue that by recoding binary-gendered institutional practices, such programs re-contour social imaginaries
through mobilization of categorical and representational excess. Chapter Three analyzes trans man Thomas Beatie’s online autobiographical account of his pregnancy that is accompanied by a photograph of his pregnant body. I argue that visualizing “the pregnant
man” occasions an incitement to discourse about how the sight of a pregnant man renders viewers speechless: speechlessness being symptomatic of a representational limit that signals the transgender sublime. The final chapter critiques the “wrong body” trope found in psychological and medical literature, as well as in transsexual autobiographies that follow the Bildungsroman structure. I compare this with My Right Self, an online photonarrative project that uses the excesses of transgender sublimity to imagine and represent alternate wor(l)ds.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby T. Benjamin Singer
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.