Beyond the Binary: Trans and GNC Theatre

How have narratives of gender noncomformity and transness been conveyed and performed in the theatre? How has trans theory developed in relation to and distinct from feminist and queer theories? How are formations of trans identity couched in ideas of embodiment, passing, medicality, history, transgression, rage, desire, temporality, and mysticality? How is the notion of transness shared cross-culturally and globally, and how has it imagined differently once outside the lens of white supremacy and settler colonialism?

These questions are at the heart of this course, and they will come up each week as we grapple with new plays, theoretical texts, and critical voices. The class offers students an introduction to the intersection of Trans and GNC identities and the theatre, first as representational entities, and then as self-crafted narratives and fabulations. Although much of societal discourse on Trans and GNC identity has evolved through popular culture, television, film, and the lived experiences and visibility of trans activists and celebrities, this course will focus on dramatic literature and play texts, which have historically received less attention, even in theatre academia and pedagogy. Fundamental texts by trans and gender theorists will be paired with plays, which will provide students the ability to engage in languages of trans/gnc discourse on a deeper analytical level. Special attention will be paid to the intersection of trans identity with race, culture, ability, nationality, and class, acknowledging that these experiences are not monolithic and that there are a wide range of Trans and GNC expressions, both historically and globally. The course aims to promote open dialogue and discussions that bridge the readings with current events, as well as fostering stronger analytic and writing skills.