Between Visibility and Violence: Framing Queer and Trans Embodiment Restricted; Files Only

Cariani, Tesla (Summer 2021)

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Between Visibility and Violence: Framing Queer and Trans Embodiment explores how queer and trans people most likely to experience violence are hyper-visible; more often than not, they are young transwomen of color and those who do not easily blend into binary categories of gender and sexuality. Though these trends are impacted by other intersecting vectors of difference, I argue that visible markers of gender and sexuality have a profound impact on how queer and trans bodies are regulated, surveilled, policed, and harmed.

Moving between literature, graphic novels, photography, film, and performance art, each chapter focuses on culturally significant embodied experiences of queer and trans subjects, including witnessing, collective memory, desire, and transition. Conceptualizing my texts as microcosms of society, I analyze how images of violence attach themselves to queer and trans bodies in the cultural imaginary. Ultimately, I argue against the idealized notion that representation generates empathy, understanding, and therefore safety. Instead, I highlight the necessity of artistic work that challenges representational conventions to offer new politics and possibilities for queer and trans life. Between Visibility and Violence makes important contributions to current scholarship by connecting the visual and textual legacies of the AIDS epidemic and settler colonialism to ongoing queer and trans issues, such as the fight for gender affirmation and erotic sovereignty. 

Table of Contents

By Way of Introduction 1

Chapter 1 - Glimpsing Shadows: Affective Witnessing in Noctambules and “Of Ghosts and Shadows” 18

Chapter 2 - Condoms not Coffins: Illness and Collective Memory in LGBTQ+ American AIDS Comics 47

Chapter 3 - Crafting BDSM: Masking and Unmasking Desire in Queer and Two-Spirit Portraiture 87

Chapter 4 - On Transitioning: Visual Metaphors of Trans Becoming 125

Coda 166

Works Cited 170

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