In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives

In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives

In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives

In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives


In her first book since the critically acclaimed Female Masculinity, Judith Halberstam examines the significance of the transgender body in a provocative collection of essays on queer time and space. She presents a series of case studies focused on the meanings of masculinity in its dominant and alternative forms'especially female and trans-masculinities as they exist within subcultures, and are appropriated within mainstream culture.

In a Queer Time and Place opens with a probing analysis of the life and death of Brandon Teena, a young transgender man who was brutally murdered in small-town Nebraska. After looking at mainstream representations of the transgender body as exhibited in the media frenzy surrounding this highly visible case and the Oscar-winning film based on Brandon's story, Boys Don't Cry, Halberstam turns her attention to the cultural and artistic production of queers themselves. She examines the "transgender gaze," as rendered in small art-house films like By Hook or By Crook, as well as figurations of ambiguous embodiment in the art of Del LaGrace Volcano, Jenny Saville, Eva Hesse, Shirin Neshat, and others. She then exposes the influence of lesbian drag king cultures upon hetero-male comic films, such as Austin Powers and The Full Monty, and, finally, points to dyke subcultures as one site for the development of queer counterpublics and queer temporalities.

Considering the sudden visibility of the transgender body in the early twenty-first century against the backdrop of changing conceptions of space and time, In a Queer Time and Place is the first full-length study of transgender representations in art, fiction, film, video, and music. This pioneering book offers both a jumping off point for future analysis of transgenderism and an important new way to understand cultural constructions of time and place.


How can a relational system be reached through sexual practices? Is it
possible to create a homosexual mode of life? … To be “gay,” I think, is
not to identify with the psychological traits and the visible masks of the
homosexual, but to try to define and develop a way of life.

—Michel Foucault, “Friendship as a Way of Life”

There is never one geography of authority and there is never one geog
raphy of resistance. Further, the map of resistance is not simply the un
derside of the map of domination—if only because each is a lie to the
other, and each gives the lie to the other.

—Steve Pile, “Opposition, Political Identities,
and Spaces of Resistance”

This book makes the perhaps overly ambitious claim that there is such a thing as “queer time” and “queer space.” Queer uses of time and space develop, at least in part, in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction. They also develop according to other logics of location, movement, and identification. If we try to think about queerness as an outcome of strange temporalities, imaginative life schedules, and eccentric economic practices, we detach queerness from sexual identity and come closer to understanding Foucault's comment in “Friendship as a Way of Life” that “homosexuality threatens people as a 'way of life' rather than as a way of having sex” (310). In Foucault's radical formulation, queer friendships, queer networks, and the existence of these relations in space and in relation to the use of time mark out the particularity and indeed the perceived menace of homosexual life. In this book, the queer “way of life” will encompass subcultural practices, alternative methods of alliance, forms of transgender embodiment, and those forms of representation dedicated to capturing these willfully eccentric modes of being. Obviously not all gay, lesbian, and transgender people live their lives in radically different ways from their heterosexual counterparts, but part of what has made queerness compelling as a . . .

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