This talk traces how flesh figures one route into the proverbial question of how matter matters. Juxtaposing the archives of J. Marion Sims, lionized as the father of American gynecology, with the cross-gender maneuvers of fugitive actors in 19th century slave narratives, Snorton frames how transness became conceivable, as a kind of being in the world in which gender though biologized was not fixed but fungible, which is to say, revisable within blackness, as a condition of possibility. Flesh then becomes a crucial analytic for understanding “gender” as a racial arrangement related to shifting, complex and even contradictory understandings of ontology, ethnology, and sovereignty in sexology and antebellum U.S. law.
C. Riley Snorton, Professor in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago, is a cultural theorist who analyzes representations of race, gender, and sexuality throughout history. He is the author of Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction and an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book in Nonfiction in 2018.
Queer Crossings: New Directions and Intersections in LGBTQ+ Studies
Bryn Mawr College’s LGBTQ+ studies lecture series examines the interwoven histories of sexuality, gender, and race in the United States and the world. These five lectures will consider how a queer or trans lens can reframe the study of science, medicine, politics, social welfare, and migration. This series demonstrates the continued urgency of LGBTQ+ studies to re-orient scholarship across academic fields towards experiences and practices of gender and sexuality that diverge from conventional social norms.
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost; Gender and Sexuality Studies; the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research; the Class of 1902 Lecture Fund; Africana Studies; the Center for Social Sciences; English; Environmental Studies; Growth and Structure of Cities; Health Studies; History; Latin American, Iberian, and Latina/o Studies; the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program; the Pensby Center; Sociology; and Spanish.