Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality

Paperback | March 30, 2010

byGayle Salamon

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We believe we know our bodies intimately?that their material reality is certain and that this certainty leads to an epistemological truth about sex, gender, and identity. By exploring and giving equal weight to transgendered subjectivities, however, Gayle Salamon upends these certainties. Considering questions of transgendered embodiment via phenomenology (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud and Paul Ferdinand Schilder), and queer theory, Salamon advances an alternative theory of normative and non-normative gender, proving the value and vitality of trans experience for thinking about embodiment.

Salamon suggests that the difference between transgendered and normatively gendered bodies is not, in the end, material. Rather, she argues that the production of gender itself relies on a disjunction between the "felt sense" of the body and an understanding of the body's corporeal contours, and that this process need not be viewed as pathological in nature. Examining the relationship between material and phantasmatic accounts of bodily being, Salamon emphasizes the productive tensions that make the body both present and absent in our consciousness and work to confirm and unsettle gendered certainties. She questions traditional theories that explain how the body comes to be?and comes to be made one's own?and she offers a new framework for thinking about what "counts" as a body. The result is a groundbreaking investigation into the phenomenological life of gender.

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From the Publisher

We believe we know our bodies intimately?that their material reality is certain and that this certainty leads to an epistemological truth about sex, gender, and identity. By exploring and giving equal weight to transgendered subjectivities, however, Gayle Salamon upends these certainties. Considering questions of transgendered embodim...

Gayle Salamon earned her Ph.D. from the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and is assistant professor of English at Princeton University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:March 30, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023114959X

ISBN - 13:9780231149594

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction 1 What Is a Body? 1. The Bodily Ego and the Contested Domain of the Material 2. The Sexual Schema: Transposition and Transgenderism in Phenomenology of Perception 2 Homoerratics 3. Boys of the Lex: Transgenderism and Social Construction 4. Transfeminism and the Future of Gender 3 Transcending Sexual Difference 5. An Ethics of Transsexual Difference: Luce Irigaray and the Place of Sexual Undecidability 6. Sexual Indifference and the Problem of the Limit 4 Beyond the Law 7. Withholding the Letter: Sex as State Property Notes Bibliography Index

Editorial Reviews

...an important resource and instigation for future work along some very promising lines of thought.