Trans-Inter-Queer: On Three Eras of the Seeable and Sayable in Visual Cultures

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The Queer Studies Network is delighted to welcome to Oxford Dr Eliza Steinbock (Leiden University), for two events on their recent book Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, Embodiment, and the Aesthetics of Change (Duke University Press, 2019), the introduction of which is available here.

The first event is a book talk from 11:00am – 12:30pm, ‘Trans-Inter-Queer: On Three Eras of the Seeable and Sayable in Visual Cultures’:

In Shimmering Images, Steinbock traces how cinema offers alternative ways to understand gender transitions through a specific aesthetics of change. Drawing on Barthes's idea of the “shimmer” and Foucault's notion of sex as a mirage, the author shows how sex and gender can appear mirage-like on film, an effect they label shimmering. Steinbock applies the concept of shimmering—which delineates change in its emergent form as well as the qualities of transforming bodies, images, and affects—to analyses of films that span time and genre. These include examinations of the fantastic and phantasmagorical shimmerings of sex change in Georges Méliès's nineteenth-century trick films and Lili Elbe's 1931 autobiographical writings and photomontage in Man into Woman. Steinbock also explores more recent documentaries, science fiction, and pornographic and experimental films. For this talk, Steinbock will discuss how across three different eras for the seeable and sayable (the legible visuality and intelligible discourses) the interlocking relationships of trans-inter-queer mutate. Tracking these kaleidoscopic shifts illuminates the limit cases for trans arrival vis-à-vis intersex morphology and queer sexuality and therefore also the pressure points for elaborating a trans politic within visual cultures.

Broadly curious about how visual culture shapes social understandings of bodily difference, Steinbock specializes in trans* cultural production, porn/sexualities and contemporary mediascapes. They recently published Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, Embodiment and the Aesthetics of Change (Duke UP, 2019), and are currently writing on contemporary transgender (self) portraiture in the wider field of visual activism in Toronto, Berlin, Cape Town/Johannesburg. Steinbock is co-editor with Susan Stryker of the recently launched book series, ASTERISK: Gender, Trans-, and All That Comes After (Duke UP) and the founding editor of the arts and culture review section of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly.

Refreshments will be served from 11:00am. Please contact with any questions or any access requirements.