Assuming a Body

Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality

Gayle Salamon

Columbia University Press

Assuming a Body

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Pub Date: March 2010

ISBN: 9780231149594

240 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: March 2010

ISBN: 9780231149587

240 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: March 2010

ISBN: 9780231521703

240 Pages

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List Price: $29.99£24.00

Assuming a Body

Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality

Gayle Salamon

Columbia University Press

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.
Engaging with a broad range of audiences, Salamon makes a convincing case that the lens offered by transgendered embodiment and subjectivity reconfigures entrenched theoretical positions in gender studies, psychoanalysis, and continental philosophy. Penelope Deutscher, Northwestern University
Assuming a Body makes a stunning intervention, by way of phenomenology, into contemporary theories of the body. Situating transgenderism within 'rhetorics of materiality,' Gayle Salamon crafts a supple theoretical framework capable of accounting for both the theory and the lived experience of alternative genders. This book will undoubtedly bridge the gap between transgender studies and critical theory, and, in the process, will open up new ways of understanding what it means to be embodied. J. Halberstam, author of Female Masculinity and In A Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives
The 'next big thing' for anyone interested in critically theorizing about contemporary transgender phenomena, Assuming a Body squarely addresses the debates and polemics thrown up during the field's fiery formative decade in the 1990s-the relationships between trans, queer, and feminist theories; performativity, discursivity, and materiality; and psychoanalysis and its discontents-and powerfully hits these balls back across the net. Salamon's next-generation (re)iteration of these intellectually vital arguments forges stronger connections between trans studies and current reappraisals of affective or phenomenological approaches to embodiment, as well as to the post-9/11 turn toward political economy and the critique of neoliberal governmentality. Scholars across a wide range of disciplines will be citing, siding with, and taking aim at this important book for years to come. Susan Stryker, Indiana University
For those who enjoy a challenge, this book rewards with its timely, thought-provoking examination of the body, and the intersection of transgender psychology and critical theory. Rachel Pepper, Curve
Salomon's book achieves to be theoretically rigorous on issues of gender and embodiment and to acknowledge the specificity and reality of transgender experience in a way that challenges the reader to rethink conceptions of sex and gender at their cutting edge. Metapsychology
...this original contribution reconfigures old questions and issues and engages with new ones, ultimately inviting us all to reconsider what it means to be embodied. Somatechnics
...an important resource and instigation for future work along some very promising lines of thought. Tamsin Lorraine, PhiloSOPHIA
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

About the Author

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.