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Towards Day 8 (Thurs, 9/25): On being transminded

Anne Dalke's picture

I. coursekeeping:
First section of course on intersectionality,

thinking about the complexities of ind’l identity;
your paper to conclude

Part Two is called “re-gendering our institutions: transitional spaces,”
built around a conception of social structures, like ind’ls,
as being always in flux, not fixed; complex, intersectional

The first section, on intersectionality, I organized around trans identities;
I have majorly reorganized the syllabus to focus this second section,
on community building, around gender and race (so re-fresh!)

I am hoping that, over the course of the next few weeks, we might spend some time
thinking together about how we might go about repairing breaches in community trust....

We’ll start next Tuesday with a little BMC history—two chapters from Helen Horowitz’s book on the 7 Sisters,
and my notes from a talk that Florence Goff and Karen Tidmarsh gave 10 years ago about “inclusion/exclusion @ BMC,”
which starts with the racism of M. Carey Thomas and takes us forward (if not quite to the present!).

Centerpiece of this unit is a visit from Monsoon Bissell and Benaifer Bhadha (Oct. 24-25),
a performance of Two Women Talking, and then an all-day workshop to
teach us the method of listening and talking that they have developed.
I thought I would write and tell them about the two conversations that have been brewing here this month:
on the admission of trans women, and on the display of the Confederate flag, to ask them to organize
the workshop around these questions. When the workshop is over, I will ask you to think about what
constructive role their method might play at Bryn Mawr:
Who (do you think) needs to practice listening to-and-with one another?
How can-and-will you follow-up/put this practice into action on our campus?

Monsoon and Benaifer want to know, ahead of time,if you want to work individually, in pairs (their preference), or in small groups:
Do you know what topic you want to discuss, with whom else on campus? Where/how/with whom will you apply this method
of listening and talking? Can you let me know this on Tuesday?

Another very exciting option during this time is a writing workshop, 
1-3:30 p.m., Thursday, October 9, on the first floor of  Canaday Library
as part of Ir/reverence: A Conversation (tri-co event celebrating the 50th
anniversary of Chinua Achebe's novel, Arrow of God).
"Writers Niq Mhlongo and Chika Unigwe are masters and transformers
of the role of literary storyteller for a rising generation.
Together they will lead participants into writing -- inspired by theirs --
that is at once expressive and critical, intimate and distanced."
(Preregistration required--do we want to do this?)

Am also very excited about a talk that Robin Bernstein
will be giving next Tuesday afternoon about the Clark doll tests…
("a new understanding of the Clarks' child-subjects not as passive internalizers of racism instead as agents who resisted inherited traditions of play")
you have a required event @ HC around a disability exhibition, so I’ll go and take notes!

II. on Tuesday, we began to talk about trans identities,
first as described by Andrew Solomon,
and then as members of the BMC community--
about what the category "woman's college" might hold,
to what degree it might be revised/challenged.

reading for today --
Judith Halberstam's “Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies"
plus Anne Dalke and Clare Mullaney (BMC ’12), On Being Transminded--
complicates and expands this discussion

our piece is about how disabling high achieving women's colleges can be
(an earlier title was "Alternative Feminisms...."); we draw heavily on Jack's work,
which is a radical critique of normative temporality, space, reproductive logics...

Jack gave a talk here in March 2012 on "Gaga Feminism" (anyone hear that?)
“It cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot
be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of
these conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what one can.
To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission…..” (Moten and Harney)

his work must? also be on the syllabus for Lesbian Immortal...?


get back into the same pairs we used on Tuesday to talk
together about how Jack's ideas might add to/interrupt
our discussions about trans women and trans men @ BMC:
it should be clear to you, before we begin, that this about more than accommodation,
(and should push your thinking beyond accomodation....); Jack offers his book as
a way of keeping "transgenderism alive as a meaningful designation of unpredictable gender
identities and practices"; refusing the category of womanhood, "unbecoming women," "unthinking sex....."

he links queerness to questions of time, of temporality, of the future
take 15 minutes to figure out this connection:
1) what is "normative" time? (what marks it? are you keeping to it?)
2) what is "queer" time? (how might that be figured? have you experience it?)
3) what might this have to do with our last discussion,
about making women's colleges accessible to trans women and men?

* What happens to the historical mission of women's colleges
["the goal of empowerment... is at the heart of a women’s
college education"] "in a queer time and place," a moment 
of gender flexibility, a "post-gender" world?

* "If we refuse to become women, what happens to feminism?"

* Is it possible (desirable?) to think Bryn Mawr's mission along these lines...?

How might a transgender task force accommodate some Halberstamian thinking?

Anne's Reading Notes
“Queer Temporality and Postmodern Geographies":
"How can a relational system be reached through sexual practices? be 'gay' try and define and develop a way of life" (Foucault).

"the map of resistance is ot simply the underside of the map of domination
...each gives the lie to the other" (Pile)

Queer uses of time and space opposition to the institutions of
family, heterosexuality, and reproduction. They also develop according to
other logics of location, movement, and identification...try to think about
queerness as an outcome of strange temporalities, imaginative life schedules,
and eccentric economic practices...detach queerness from sexual identity...
the existence of these relations in space and in..time mark out the...menace
of homosexual life...willfully eccentric modes of being (p. 1).

Queer time perhaps emerges most spectacularly...within those gay communities
whose horizons of possibility have been severely diminished by the AIDS epidemic...
The constantly diminishing future creates a new emphasis on the here.... urgency of
being...expands the potential of the moment....Queer time...exploits the potential of
..."the transient, the fleeting, the contingent"....And yet queer also about the
potentiality of a life unscripted by the conventions of family, inheritance, and child rearing
...we rethink the adult/youth binary...queer subcultures...lie outside of those paradigmatic
markers of life experience--namely, birth, marriage, reproduction, and death (2).

respectability, and notions of the normal on which it depends, may be upheld by a
middle-class logic of reproductive temporality....we...pathologize modes of living that concern for longevity....long periods of stability are considered to be desirable
...But ludic temporality....reveals the artificiality of our privileged constructions of time (pp. 4-5).

The time of reproduction is ruled by a biological clock...Family time refers to the normative
scheduling of daily life...The time of intheritance refers to an overview of generational time
...It also glances ahead to...the future of...national stability...hyptothetical temporality...
demands protection in the way of insurance politics, health care, and wills (p. 5).

A "queer" adjustment in...time...produces new conceptions of space...nonnormative logics
and organization of community, sexual identity, embodiment, and activity...once one leaves
the temporal frames of bourgeois reproduction and family, longevity, risk/safety, and inheritance.
"Queer spece" refers to...queer counterpublics (p. 6). organized according to the logic of capital accumulation...Waiting for Godot
can be a defamiliarization of time spent...nothing has been postponed and
nothing will be resumed (p. 7).

space is naturalized in relation to use values...hegemonic constructions of time and
space are uniquely gendered and sexualized...a separation of spheres graphically
represented the gendered logic of the public/private binary...histories of raciilization
cannot avoid spatial conceptions of time...histories of immigration, diaspora, and
forced migration (p. 8).

Reproductive time and family time are, above all, heteronormative time/space
constructs....all kinds of people...opt to live outside of reproductive and familial
time as well as on the edges of logics of labor and production...By doing so, they
also often live outside the logic of capital accumulation (p. 10).

a "moment," a persistent present," or a "queer tempoality" overlooked by
Marxist geographers for whom the past represents the logic for the present,
and the future represents the fruition of this logic (p. 11).

The gender-ambiguous individual today represents a very different set of
assumptions ... than the gender-inverted subject of the early twentieth century
...the transgender body has emerged as...a kind of heroic fulfillment of postmodern
promises of gender part of a "post-gender" world..the idea of "labeling"
becomes a sign of oppression...uniqueness cannot be captured (pp. 18-19).

I hope [to] begin a dialogue about the meaning of gender variance in queer
communities that moves beyond claims of either uniqueness or unilateral oppression,
and beyond the binary division of flexibility or rigidity...This book tries to keep
transgenderism alive as a meaningful designation of unpredictable gender
identities and practices (p. 21).