All of us here at CREGS were extremely excited to get our Seminar Series up and running again! We were lucky to have Professor Cael Keegan, who is a Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Queer Studies at the Evergreen State College. His current book project is a cultural study of 20th century queer melodramatic performance and its political function in the postwar expansion of American democratic ideology. The audience consisted of CREGS faculty, SFSU faculty and students, as well as members of the research and educational community in the Bay Area. We were pleasantly surprised to start the semester off with a full house!
Professor Keegan’s presentation, Transgendering the Body Politic: Transgender Embodiment and the American Democratic Ideal discussed the function of Queer bodies in American Democracy, a system that is supposed to produce freedom, and justice, but is inherently oppressive. Representations of Queer/Trans bodies in the media are emotive, have lived tragic lives, and therefore can’t rise to politics, as opposed to white, cisgender people who have rational emotional responses and therefore are capable of political discourse. Democracy, to Keegan, does not create new freedoms, rather it protects freedoms already in place for certain bodies – bodies that are not Queer. This leads us to question: If Democracy in the US perpetuates the systematic violence affecting Queer/Trans bodies (the health care system, gender specific identity documents, etc.) and therefore does not fulfill its duty to uphold freedom, are Queer bodies the solution to American Democracy? Will Queer/Trans bodies dismantle the ways in which American Democracy is oppressive? What do you think? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!