Black Trans Feminism

Marquis Bey talks about the radical and abolitionist project of Black Trans Feminism. Rather than an identity formation, it is a politics and modality of being that vitiates the limits of subjectivity. Black Trans Feminism finds joy in irreverence, just like we try to do on High Theory.

You can recalibrate your understanding of the subject by reading Marquis’s forthcoming book Black Trans Feminism, published by Duke University Press. Released next week! On February 25th.

In the episode Marquis references a wonderful quote from Saidiya Hartman, that “A Black revolution makes everyone freer than they actually want to be.” It’s a hard quote to find, but it appears in Frank Wilderson’s interview with C.S. Soong, “Blacks and the Master/Slave Relation” in Afropessimism: An Introduction (Racked & Dispatched, 2017).

Marquis is Assistant Professor of African American Studies and English at Northwestern University. They also serve as Faculty Affiliate and Advisory Board Member in Gender & Sexuality Studies and Advisory Board Faculty Member in Critical Theory.

This week’s image was provided by Marquis.

Music used in promotional material: ‘Semiacoustic’ by Pk Jazz Collective

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Aunties

Kareem Khubchandani talks about aunties, figure across culture that stand for inquiry and succor, at limits of, or outside of traditional family structures. The conversation spans across genres and contexts, mainly focusing on work in the new field of Critical Aunty Studies.

Kareem Khubchandani is the Mellon Bridge assistant professor in theater, dance, and performance studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2020), which received the 2021 Association for Theatre in Higher Education Outstanding Book award, 2021 Dance Studies Association de la Torre Bueno book award, 2021 MLA/ASA Alan Bray Memorial Prize honorable mention, and the 2019 CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies Fellowship. Kareem is also co-editor of Queer Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2021) and curator of criticalauntystudies.com

Image: © 2022 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘Like Swimming’ by Broke for Free

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Sextuality

Stephen Guy-Bray talks about sexuality, a concept that brings together the the use of sexual metaphors in the description of textual production and the erotics that inhere in reading praxes. Among other things, this concept is a critique of the use of popular heteronormative metaphors of reproduction to describe the creation of literature.

Stephen Guy-Bray is professor of English at the University of British Columbia. He specializes in Renaissance poetry, queer theory, and poetics. He has just finished a monograph on line endings in Renaissance poetry.

Image: © 2021 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘The Gold Lining’ by Broke For Free


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Lust

Eric Wade speaks with Saronik about lust. They discuss how depictions of sexuality in medieval literature have persisted through literary traditions and shaped modern ideas of Orientalism and the sexual other.

In the episode, Eric mentions a number of modern theorists, including Edward Said, Joseph Boone, Ghassan Moussawi, and Joseph Massad.

Dr. Erik Wade—a visiting lecturer at the Universität-Bonn—researches the global origins of early medieval English ideas of sexuality and race. He is co-writing a book with Dr. Mary Rambaran-Olm, titled Race in Early Medieval England, out next year from Cambridge University Press.

This week’s image is a medieval illumination of the Dream of the Magi, showing the three kings hanging out naked in bed, in the Salzburg Missal, Regensburg ca. 1478-1489 [München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 15708 I, fol. 63r].

Music used in promotional material: ‘Streets of Sant’lvo’ by Mid-Air Machine

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Decolonial Queerness

Sandeep Bakshi (@sandeepbak on Twitter) talks to Saronik about understanding queerness and its emancipatory politics through transnational solidarity building, the persistent inclusion of trans and queer epistemological frames in social justice movements, especially in the work done by the Decolonizing Sexualities Network. Sandeep explains this concept and the DSN’s objective by referring to the works of Maria Lugones, Sylvia Tamale and the Fallist movement, and Karma Chávez and Against Equality.

Sandeep Bakshi researches on transnational queer and decolonial enunciation of knowledges. He received his PhD from the School of English, University of Leicester, UK, and is currently employed as an Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Queer Literatures at the University of Paris. He heads the “Gender and Sexuality Studies” research group and coordinates two research seminars, “Peripheral Knowledges” and “Empires, Souths, Sexualities,”. Co-editor of Decolonizing Sexualities: Transnational Perspectives, Critical Interventions (Oxford: Counterpress, 2016) and Decolonial Trajectories, special issue of Interventions (2020), he has published on queer and race problematics in postcolonial literatures and cultures. He is the founder and serves on the board of the Decolonizing Sexualities Network.

Image: Cover of the book Decolonizing Sexualities: Transnational Perspectives, Critical Interventions

Music used in promotional material: “Hear Me Out” by Ketsa

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Sexual Difference

Emma Heaney talks about the social organization of the supposedly biologically derived terms of the sex binary into a hierarchy of persons and qualities. She speaks widely about the work that she and her colleagues are doing, drawing on a tradition of scholarship that includes the work of Luce Irigaray, Hortense Spillers, Cathy J. Cohen and others.

Emma Heaney is a teacher, researcher, and writer living in Queens. Her first book, a study of the
medicalization of trans femininity and the uptake of the diagnostic figure in works of twentieth-
century literature and philosophy, is The New Woman: Literary Modernism, Queer Theory, and
the Trans Feminine Allegory
(Northwestern, 2017). Her forthcoming second book, Feminism
Against Cisness
, is an edited collection of essays by Trans Studies scholars who use anti-colonial,
Black, and Marxist feminist methods to address the many legacies of the historical emergence of
the idea that assigned sex determines sexed experience. Her introduction for that collection,
entitled “Sexual Difference Without Cisness” provides the basis for this interview.

Image: © 2021 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: “Flow” by dustmotes

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JVN

Angelina Eimannsberger talks to Saronik about cultural phenomenon Jonathan Van Ness, and movements in queer femininity that they represent.

They touch briefly on Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Jean Genet’s Notre Dame des Fleurs, Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness, and the hashtag #transisbeautiful inaugurated by Laverne Cox. They also talk about Michel Foucault’s interview “Friendship as a Way of Life“.

Angelina and Saronik had a post-recording conversation about the activistic work that JVN does. On that note, here is a list of organizations they support, and that you can support too:

Planned Parenthood, RAINN, Phoenix House, The Trevor Project, National Coalition of Anti Violence Programs, Advocates for Youth, GLSEN, Peer Health Exchange, ASPCA.

The image for this episode is a frame titled “Flowering Tree” by the fin de siècle English artist Aubrey Beardsley.

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