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A Visit with Susan Stryker

Notes towards Day 12 of
Critical Feminist Studies

--sign in, conferences, papers due on-line t'morrow @ 5
--events: Latina/o Studies/Transgender History/Raka Ray on Feminist Revolution
--reading assignment, Tuesday after break:
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, "La Respuesta/The Response" (1690)
--Wed. evening quarterbacking re: revised syllabus/more tweaking/commentary?
--mid-semester evaluations: what's working? what needs working on??

Last week, I told you about Edward Said's discussion, in The World, the Text and the Critic (1983), of "travel as a habit of mind," of the importance of getting some distance in order to see clearly. This is an "ascetic code of willed homelessness," a procedure which allows you to think beyond the box/boundaries/commonsense, to theorize what is new. It privileges the concept of movement, of transition, an openness of mind facilitated by being "unsettled."

One of you asked me if this was metaphoric, geographic, philosophic, epistemological,
and I said it was all of the above.

Susan Stryker is one of those "unsettled unsettlers."
She lives in SF, works in Vancouver, where she sits in the
Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair in
Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University.

"I think queer means valuing that which is off-center and against the norm...
being queer means you have some consciousness about norms, and how they are produced--
often through violence and suppression of difference--if you are queer you are aware of where your boundaries are, and when you cross them..and you celebrate your differences and uniqueness."

Five Questions with...Susan Stryker
(en)Gender. Helen Boyd's Journal of Gender & Trans Issues. 2005.

GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 2004. 10 (2): 212-215.

"My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix --
Performing Transgender Rage."

GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies
1994. 1(3): 227-254.
More recent work includes "(De)Subjugated Knowledges: An Introduction to Transgender Studies,"
The Transgender Studies Reader (2006).

'I wanted to help define "queer" as a family to which transsexuals belonged...a compensatory, utopian reconfiguration of community...a postmodern space of possibility....Queer theory...has not realized the (admittedly utopian) potential I (perhaps naively) sensed there for a radical restructuring of our understanding of gender....Most disturbingly, "transgender" increasingly functions as the site in which to contain all gender trouble....rather than something that cuts across existing sexualities, revealing..the means through which all identities acheive their specificities....'
(from "Queer Theory's Evil Twin")

'The transgender body is an unnatural body....transsexuality..represents the prospect of destabilizing the foundational presupposition of fixed genders upon which a politics of personal identity depends....Transsexual embodiment...places its subject in an unassimilable, antagonistic, queer relationship to a nature in which it must nevertheless exist....Nature exerts such a hegemonic oppression....

"transgender rage" generated by the subject's situation in a field governed by the unstable but indissoluable relationship between language and materiality, a situation in which language organizes and brings into signification matter that simultaneously eludes definitive representation and demands its own perpetual rearticulation in symbolic terms....what lit the fuse to my rage in the hospital delivery room...was the non-consensuality of the baby's gendering....authority seizes upon specific material qualities of the flesh...and reads it to enculturate the body. Gender attribution is compulsory...we choose neither our marks nor the meanings they carry...a gendering violence is the founding condition of human subjectivity....'
(from "My Words to Victor Frankenstein...")