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Seminar 3: Collaging Trans Rhetorics

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)

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Seminar Leaders:

Jo Hsu, University of Texas at Austin:
Benny LeMaster, Arizona State University:

This seminar adopts “collage” as a guiding principle, collaging work from transgender studies, trans rhetorics, and performance studies with participants’ perspectives, works-in-progress, and experiences. We assemble our seminar-in-collage through two moves: (1) Co-facilitated discussion sessions and (2) Participant shares. In the first move, participants join seminar organizers in co-constructing discussion sessions that are structured around keywords, for which participants will be provided suggested readings. The keywords help organize and facilitate constellations of thought, expression, and activism as they engage, trouble, and complicate trans rhetorics. Throughout, we will explore trans epistemologies as inextricable from matters of race, class, disability, and nationality. We will also focus on the strands of trans wisdom that emerge specifically from the precarities of trans life, querying how rhetorical studies can contribute to conversations and collective actions that affect the life chances of trans people. Possible keywords that will guide these labors include child/childhood; taxonomy; trans/queer/feminism; (ab)normal and (un)natural; body, embodiment, and enfleshment; trans rage; critical pedagogies; erotic/a; gender futurities; and prison abolition. In the second move, seminar participants share works-in-progress. These works can take any form including, for instance, creative (non-)fiction accounts, performance art including staged performance, academic research articles, arts-based expressions, community-based organizing plans, and so on. We invite research and art that explores the interrelations of rhetoric and trans life, especially work that considers how trans experiences and epistemologies intersect with other vectors of identity and knowledge. Participants are asked to submit works-in-progress prior to the seminar so that they might receive directed peer feedback in addition to that which emerges during the seminar. In the spirit of collage, this seminar resists normative hierarchies of trans intelligibility, preferring to explore other inventive, combinatory, kaleidoscopic understandings of trans rhetoric we might imagine together.

Jo HsuJo Hsu is an assistant professor of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. Their research examines how narratives affect struggles over national and communal belonging, and their current book project explores how communal storytelling by trans and queer Asian Americans (re)negotiates conditions for U.S. citizenry. Jo’s writing can be found in Women’s Studies in Communication, College Composition and Communication, Enculturation, Rhetoric Review, the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, and other venues. They have work forthcoming in Peitho and the Quarterly Journal of Speech. A queer nonbinary disabled Taiwanese American, they are accountable for the migratory forces, histories of conflict, and legacies of resistance from which their own journey emerges. They are indebted to and guided by trans, crip, and queer of color scholars and activists who have enabled their survival. They strive to further the forms of mutual care and collaborative worldbuilding that they have learned from these mentors and kin.

Benny LeMaster Benny LeMaster (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) is Assistant Professor of Critical/Cultural Communication and Performance Studies at Arizona State University. They study the performative, discursive, and material constitution of cultural difference with particular attention paid to the lived experience and survival of trans and queer folks of color. Their scholarship can be found both on the page and on the stage. On the page, their research has been published, for instance, in Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, Women’s Studies in Communication, and Popular Culture Studies Journal. On the stage, their performance work has been featured in a variety of venues ranging from academic conferences to queer bars to art festivals to digital academic journals including Liminalities and Peitho. They identify as a mixed-race Asian/white queer and trans non-binary femme, and their liberatory pedagogical commitments reflect their experience as a first-generation-student-turned-academic. Their pronouns are they/them. Alright, who wants to make art?

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