23123 Cybernetics and Trans Identities

This course is an examination into the ways in which theorizations of trans identity have been bound to discourses concerning cyborgs and cybernetics. On one hand, we will look into the ways in which medico-technological discourses have inscribed and produced the limits for conceptualizing trans-ness. On the other, we will examine how trans self-narratives have mobilized cybernetic language to parasitically produce autonomous discourses. The over-arching questions of this class will be: how should we engage concepts, such as the cybernetic and the prosthetic, that have been used towards the disenfranchisement of trans identities, while simultaneously have been re-inscribed as emancipatory concepts? How should we tell the histories of these discourses? How do they affect, produce, contain, and enliven contemporary worlds of trans identities and existences? This course will, from its onset, be interdisciplinary in nature, both in terms of the academic disciplines from which we choose our texts (trans theory, queer theory, critical race theory, psychoanalysis, philosophy, new media theory, literary criticism, etc.) and also through an engagement with various genres and media, engaging fiction, film and visual art, as ways to further expand and develop our critical investigations. Readings will include works by figures such as Karen Barad, Jean Baudrillard, Mel Chen, Gilles Deleuze, Donna Haraway, Beatriz Preciado, Jasbir Puar, Gayle Salamon, Sandy Stone, Alexander Weheliye.

Alexander Wolfson
2019-2020 Autumn