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Art Biography Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Trans Cinema and its Exit Scapes. A Transfeminist Reading of Utopian Sensibility and Gender Dissidence in Contemporary Film

By Wibke Straube, 2014

Trans Cinema and its Exit Scapes offers a critical and creative intervention into cultural representations of gendered body dissidence in contemporary film. The study argues for the possibility of finding spaces of “disidentification”, so-called “exit scapes” within the films. Exit scapes disrupt the dominant cinematic regime set up for the trans character, which ties them into stories of discrimination, humiliation and violence. In Trans Cinema, for instance films such as Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), Transamerica (2005), Romeos (2011) and Laurence Anyways (2012), scenes of singing, dancing and dreaming allow a different form of engagement with the films. As argued here, they allow a critical re-reading and an affirmative re-imagining of trans embodiment. The aim of this study is to investigate the utopian and hopeful potential within Trans Cinema from a critical transfeminist perspective. While focusing in particular on trans entrants as “spectators” or readers, this study draws on the work of a wide range of feminist and cultural scholars, such as Sara Ahmed, Susan Stryker, José Esteban Muñoz, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Karen Barad and Donna Haraway. The thesis etches out cinematic spatiotemporalities that unfold possibilities of utopian worlding and trans becoming through a set of conceptual innovations. By utilising a critical approach to audio-visuality and feminist film theory, the thesis re-conceptualises haptic spectatorship theory and its critique in western modernist ocularcentricism through a set of conceptual innovations. The methodological tools developed in this thesis, such as the “entrant”, the “exit scape” and “sensible cinematic intra-activity”, feature here as a multisensorial methodology for transdisciplinary transgender studies and feminist film theory as well as visual culture at large. Keywords: transgender studies, transfeminism, queer, gender, feminism, multisensorial cinema, haptic spectatorship, touch, hearing, seeing, exit scapes, sensible cinematic intra-activity, Trans Cinema, visual cultural studies, film theory

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