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Art Critique Essay History Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Exploring Means of Transgender Agency through Aesthetic Theory and Practice

By Casey Robertson, 2019
This essay explores the complex relationship between gender and aesthetics, namely through the lens of the transgender movement. After a brief study of the challenges related to the history of gender variance and normativity, the essay will follow the trajectory of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, focusing primarily on the conception of the sublime, and move to explore connections with the work of gender theorist and public health advocate Benjamin T. Singer, whose work develops a rhizomatic model of the transgender sublime. Utilising this framework, the discussion will then examine connections and parallels with the work of Rancière and later Gianni Vattimo. The final section will then explore the concept of aesthetic emergencies from Santiago Zabala, Vattimo’s pupil, who associates both Rancière and Vattimo with this concept while at the same time drawing from Heidegger’s writings. Through a re-examination of the sublime and the work of these theorists, this paper will illuminate potential new connections, pathways, and possibilities for the transgender movement, aesthetic theory, and political engagement.

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