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Transing Visualities: Identity, Representation, Performance: Commissioned by Bloomsbury Press, expected publication Late 2024
In this book transgender performance artist and scholar Lazlo Pearlman combines memoire, performance theory, visuality studies and social media critique to define and discuss visual and performative ‘transing’ body technologies, inviting the reader to think differently about the ways in which we view and experience the gendering of trans bodies and all bodies. Each chapter offers discussion about the ways in which what Pearlman defines as transing visualities shape the culture and are shaped by the culture, grappling with the paradoxes of identities that move simultaneously away from and towards normative ideas of and about gender.
Examining his own experience of the internal and external pressures, desires and expectations of moving in the world and through the world first as visually female and then as visually male, Pearlman explores the ocular worlds of trans bodybuilders and models; transing technologies of binding, gaffing and stuffing and the growing and removal of body hair; gender affirming surgeries and the more outwardly radical “body modification” practices of enhancement surgeries and tattooing. Pearlman considers the workings of the normative in the extreme and the extreme in the normative in transing visual presentations.
Confronting conscious and unconscious socio-cultural requirements to create the “right kind of body” through queer, post structural, materialist and feminist lenses -and through the joys and perils of honing his own identity - Pearlman offers an auto-theoretical vantage point on trans body techniques and an approach for thinking about what transing is doing in our gendered visual culture and what our gendered visual culture is doing to and with trans/gender identities. In conversation with other trans folk, performers and scholars this book will explore the ways in which transing visualities, from the subtle to the outrageous, can operate both as radical political refusals of gender norms and the reification of those same norms. Transing Visualities invites the audience to consider the ways in which the visual creation and maintenance of trans identities can be both radical and normative practice, often simultaneously.
The book is part of a new series entitled Costumed Politics - A timely book series exploring identity politics in relation to the costumed body in performance cultures. The series creates a global, diverse and inclusive platform for marginalized bodies from both the Southern and Northern hemisphere. The series will publish scholarship by and about BIPOC, indigenous, queer, disabled, crip, trans and cis women and men who feel that their gender doesn’t fit within heteronormative socio-cultural structures. The intention of the series is to reframe spectacular costume practices in light of the political shift in popular street and hashtag protest eg. #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and LGBTQUIA+ awareness, and the heightened global popularity of drag in pop culture. The aim is to foreground costumed politics as a theatrical medium for visualizing new performativities: identity as a visuality in flux as opposed to a visibility that is fixed.
Series Editor Jacki Willson is an Associate Professor of Performance and Gender in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds. She has published two monographs – The Happy Stripper (2008) and Being Gorgeous (2015) and one co-edited book – Revisiting the Gaze: the Fashioned Body and the Politics of Looking (2020). She is the PI on the 3 year AHRC project 'Fabulous Femininities: extravagant costume and transformative thresholds'. Her second edited book (co-edited with Royce Mahawatte), is titled ‘Dangerous Bodies: new global perspectives on fashion and transgression’'.