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Anxious Breath

An Autoethnographic Exploration of Non-binary Queerness, Vulnerability, and Recognition in Step Out

Lara Bochmann and Erin Hampson

Abstract

This article is a theoretical, audiovisual, and personal exploration of being a trans and non-binary person and the challenges this position produces at the moment of entering the outside world. Getting ready to enter public space is a seemingly mundane everyday task. However, in the context of a world that continuously fails or refuses to recognize trans and non-binary people, the literal act of stepping outside can mean to move from a figurative state of self-determination to one of imposition. We produced a short film project called Step Out to delve into issues of vulnerability and recognition that surface throughout experiences of crossing the threshold into public space. It explores the acts performed as preparation to face the world, and invokes the emotions this can conquer in trans and non-binary people. Breathing is the leading metaphor in the film, indicating existence and resistance simultaneously. The article concludes with a discussion of affective states and considers them, along with failed recognition, through the lens of Lauren Berlant's concept of “cruel optimism.”

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Close to You

Karen Carpenter and the Body-Martyr in Queer Memory

Julian Binder

Abstract

There has been much thought given to role of the body as a site of political, physiological, and cultural negotiation. What place then does the beloved and astonishingly affective singer of 1970s soft-rock, Karen Carpenter, occupy in this weighty discourse? Karen's death from complications related to her eating disorder in 1983 shocked the public, eliciting a new wave of cultural consciousness about the embodied nature of mental illness. But beyond the stereotypical white suburban Carpenters fan, Karen and her story had already become a cult favorite amongst the queer avant-garde as soon as four years after death, a mysterious phenomenon that I argue is decidedly queer in its emotional trafficking of Karen's subjectivity, among other areas. This essay explores the ways in which our bodies double as cultural repositories, as hallowed sites of memory, and as icons of martyrdom with the capacity to emit a healing resonance analogous to their fabricated religious counterparts. I must admit, this paper might also be guilty of occasionally engaging in the typical essentializing tendency toward Karen's personhood. For her sake then, reader, I ask you to ponder the following question with the same aversion to neat finality that you apply to your own story as you flip the page: who really was Karen Carpenter?

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Andrew J. Ball

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Groped and Gutted

Hollywood's Hegemonic Reimagining of Counterculture

Samantha Eddy

Abstract

The realm of horror provides a creative space in which the breakdown of social order can either expose power relations or further cement them by having them persist after the collapse. Carol Clover proposed that the 1970s slasher film genre—known for its sex and gore fanfare—provided feminist identification through its “final girl” indie invention. Over three decades later, with the genre now commercialized, this research exposes the reality of sexual and horrific imagery within the Hollywood mainstay. Using a mixed-methods approach, I develop four categories of depiction across cisgender representation in these films: violent, sexual, sexually violent, and postmortem. I explore the ways in which a white, heterosexist imagination has appropriated this once productive genre through the violent treatment of bodies. This exposes the means by which hegemonic, oppressive structures assimilate and sanitize counter-media. This article provides an important discussion on how counterculture is transformed in capital systems and then used to uphold the very structures it seeks to confront. The result of such assimilation is the violent treatment and stereotyping of marginalized identities in which creative efforts now pursue new means of brutalization and dehumanization.

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Introduction

Visibility and Screen Politics after the Transgender Tipping Point

Wibke Straube

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Los Roldán and the Inclusion of Travesti Narratives

Representations of Gender-Nonconforming Identities in Argentinian Telenovelas

Martín Ponti

Abstract

In Argentina, trans people have experienced extreme marginalization exacerbated by authoritarian dictatorships. Despite this history, since the return of democracy in the 1980s Argentina has witnessed legislative changes as an outcome of extensive trans activism. Travestis became more visible as they protested police brutality. Travesti mobilization brought more visibility, specifically within the media industries. To elucidate their participation in media, this article focuses on travesti celebrity Florencia de la V in Los Roldán (2004–, Telefe). I examine the representation of travestis on telenovelas and how fictional characters have an effect on structuring a star's career through the telenovelas’ ability to blur the distinctions between character and star. Ultimately, this article questions the introduction of mainstream audiences to gender-nonconforming characters through the industry's incorporation of travesti stars in relation to themes of scandal and domesticity. I build on the work of trans scholars Blas Radi and Lohana Berkins, who theorize travesti identities as politicized non-binary bodies.

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Lieke Hettinga and Terrance Wooten

Eliza Steinbock, Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, Embodiment, and the Aesthetics of Change (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), 248 pp., ISBN: 9781478003885 (paperback, $24.95)

Jian Neo Chen, Trans Exploits: Trans of Color Cultures and Technologies in Movement (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019). ix +184 pp., ISBN: 9781478000877 (paperback, $23.95)

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Shadows, Screens, Bodies, and Light

Reading the Discursive Shadow in the Age of American Silent Cinema

Amy E. Borden

Abstract

Considering how American publications wrote about x-ray, still, and photochemical motion pictures as shadows reveals a discursive bridge among the three varieties from the performance practice of ombromanie (shadowgraphy). This process produced shadows of performing bodies where the bodies were accompanied by the impression created by the interaction of the bodies and the light source. That organization of bodies and technology, as complex as a body and a fluoroscope or as low-tech as hands, a candle, and a screen, can help historians contextualize popular narratives of early cinema that suggested audiences believed that motion pictures were real enough to jump offscreen. The resulting images drag the profilmic event and the peculiarities of the medium into a cultural understanding of cinema's potential to both represent and display life in motion.

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Jess Dorrance

Abstract

This article analyzes the film and installation Toxic (2012) by Berlin-based artists Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz in order to reflect upon the politics of racialized queer and trans subjects becoming images and to consider the ways we might care for these images in the archives of history. I revisit my original argument about Toxic, which positioned the artwork as an intersectional “archive of feelings” that was paradigmatic of a moment in the late 2000s and early 2010s when many Western antiracist queer/trans communities were focused on critiquing the violences of gay pride assimilationism and its politics of transparency. I then turn to Christina Sharpe's “ethics of care” and Eric Stanley's work on opacity to analyze how this reading may work toward the politics of transparency it seeks to critique. In response, I develop the concept of queer/trans messiness as a set of aesthetic, performative, affective, and historiographical strategies present in Toxic, which produce different grammars of seeing and being seen, different ways of navigating the incommensurability between struggles for social justice, and different modes of representing antiracist queer/trans history.

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Brian Bergen-Aurand

This is a special issue on surveilled bodies, with five articles guest edited by Ira Allen, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies at Northern Arizona University and Assistant Editor of Screen Bodies. The question here is one of how screens and bodies are brought together through surveillance (visual and otherwise), how surveillance hails the body to attend to it (beckons us to catch a glimpse of here or there) even as it hides itself from the body, working to be noticed yet remaining unnoticed, in order to keep us “on our toes.” In this light, surveillance is not only about investigating, examining, logging, and controlling the body but also about bringing the body into being as a body-to-be-surveilled, about interpolating the body into becoming evermore surveillable in ever-more granular ways.