Join us for a workshop to discuss Greta LaFleur’s essay “Trans Feminine Histories, Piece by Piece: or, Vernacular Print and the Histories of Gender.” A link to LaFleur’s paper will be circulated to all registrants in their confirmation email.
This essay, which I am currently revising for an edited collection, focuses on a small, eclectic collection of very short reports of self-castrations that appear—printed or reprinted—in North American newspapers between the beginning of the eighteenth century and the end of the nineteenth. The brevity of these reports renders them a fascinating but at times frustrating archive for those of us working on the histories of gender, as they betray an interest in and awareness of the effect of castration in humans, and, furthermore, tend to represent the satisfaction of the person who so transformed their body. One such article, published in Connecticut in 1721, for example, reports that the person who castrated themselves “is very much swell’d, but seems rejoyc’d at what [t]he[y] ha[ve] done.” This essay takes this collection of small articles as a point of departure for thinking about the archives and methods most generative for crafting trans histories, asking what types of reading, and what approaches to historical analysis, might allow us the widest view of trans pasts.
Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué will be the respondent for this workshop.
Greta LaFleur is Associate Professor of American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University, and the author of The Natural History of Sexuality in Early America(JHUP 2018). LaFleur is also the co-editor of three journal special issues: a 2019 special issue of American Quarterly on “Origins of Biopolitics in the Americas,” a 2022 special issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly on “Trans Exclusionary Feminisms and the Global New Right,” and a 2023 special issue of GLQ on “The Science of Sex Itself.” Finally, LaFleur is also the co-editor of two volumes of essays: Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern (Cornell UP, 2021) and American Literature in Transition, 1770-1828 (Cambridge UP, 2022).