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Archive, Transgender, Architecture: Woolf, Beckett, diller scofidio + renfro

  • Author / Creator
    Crawford, Lucas C.
  • This project favours transgender narratives and affects inspired by exteriority, folds, queer décor, assemblage, and the archive. These spatial models help the project displace models of gender that are grounded in the concepts of enclosure, privacy, and property. As a response to the enforced interiority, integrity, and ownership of the trans subject, the project theorizes transgender as a series of modes (of actions rather than states) that push beyond the conscious agency of sovereign subjects to a new architectonic of “transing” affect. The constellation of modernist architectures that comprise this project share many concerns: how to remember, how to forget, how to transform, how to feel differently, and, ultimately, how to use art and aesthetic inquiry to become something new. First, diller scofidio + renfro’s (DS+R’s) Brasserie space in Manhattan injects cheeky queer-coded décor and fashion into their space as a response to high modernist abjections of “feminine” décor. The architects thereby turn the space into a self-conscious archive of gender. In Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: a Biography, the trans subject itself is treated as precisely such an archive of décor – one whose temporality exceeds and critiques the generic conventions of biography (a genre often respected as the truest form of transgender history and experience). Written just as transgender was becoming codified as a sexological (and medical) subject, Orlando: a Biography shows us an early alternative theory of transgender – one that makes fantasy, art, and writing absolutely central. Woolf’s critique of what this project calls the “biographical imperative” of transgender studies is extended by Samuel Beckett’s cryptic text, The Unnamable, in which the coherence of the subject is pushed to (and perhaps beyond) its limit – to a “groundless” relationship to language not unlike that experienced by trans name-changers. Finally, the project turns from its implicit urbanism (and that of queer theory) to consider, with L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz, what might happen if less scripted spaces – such as “the rural” – were inhabited both literally and metaphorically by transgender.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2012-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R37S7M
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of English and Film Studies
  • Specialization
    • English
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Chisholm, Dianne (English and Film Studies)
    • Heyes, Cressida (Philosophy)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Luhmann, Susanne (Women's Studies)
    • Cvetkovich, Ann (English, University of Texas at Austin)
    • O'Driscoll, Michael (English and Film Studies)
    • Simpson, Mark (English and Film Studies)