Trans Historical explores the plurality of gender experiences that flourished before the modern era, from Late Antiquity to the eighteenth century, across a broad geographic range, from Spain to Poland and Byzantium to Boston. Refuting arguments that transgender people, experiences, and identities were non-existent or even impossible prior to the twentieth century, this volume focuses on archives—literary texts, trial transcripts, documents, and artifacts—that denaturalize gender as a category. The volume historicizes the many different social lives of sexual differentiation, exploring what gender might have been before modern medicine, the anatomical sciences, and the sedimentation of gender difference into its putatively binary form.
The volume's multidisciplinary group of contributors consider how individuals, communities, and states understood and enacted gender as a social experience distinct from the assignment of sex at birth. Alongside historical questions about the meaning of sexual differentiation, Trans Historical also offers a series of diverse meditations on how scholars of the medieval and early modern periods might approach gender nonconformity before the nineteenth-century emergence of the norm and the normal.
Contributors: Abdulhamit Arvas, University of Pennsylvania; Roland Betancourt, University of California, Irvine; M. W. Bychowski, Case Western Reserve University; Emma Campbell, Warwick University; Igor H. de Souza, Yale University; Leah DeVun, Rutgers University; Micah James Goodrich, University of Connecticut; Alexa Alice Joubin, George Washington University; Anna Kłosowska; Greta LaFleur; Scott Larson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Kathleen Perry Long, Cornell University; Robert Mills, University College London; Masha Raskolnikov; Zrinka Stahuljak, UCLA.
Introduction: The Benefits of Being Trans Historical, by Greta LaFleur, Masha Raskolnikov, and Anna M. Klosowska Part I: Archives: Revisiting Law and Medicine
1. Mapping the Borders of Sex, by Leah DeVun
2. Elenx de Céspedes: Indeterminate Genders in the Spanish Inquisition, by Igor H. de Souza
3. The Case of Marin le Marcis, by Kathleen Perry Long
4. The Transgender Turn: Eleanor Rykener Speaks Back, by M.W. Bychowski
5. Wojciech of Pozna and the Trans Archive, Poland, 1550–1561, by Anna M. Klosowska Part II: Frameworks: Representing Early Trans Lives
6. Recognizing Wilgefortis, by Robert Mills
7. Performing and Desiring Gender Variance in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire, by Abdulhamit Arvas
8. Without Magic or Miracle: The Romance of Silence and the Prehistory of Genderqueerness, by Masha Raskolnikov
9. Transgender Translation, Humanism, and Periodization: Vasco da Lucena's Deeds of Alexander the Great, by Zrinka Stahuljak Part III: Interventions: Critical Trans Methodologies
10. Visualizing the Trans-Animal Body: The Hyena in Medieval Bestiaries, by Emma Campbell
11. Maimed Limbs and Biosalvation: Rehabilitation Politics in Piers Plowman, by Micah James Goodrich
12. Where Are All the Trans Women in Byzantium?, by Roland Betancourt
13. Performing Reparative Transgender Identities from Stage Beauty to The King and the Clown, by Alexa Alice Joubin
14. Laid Open: Examining Genders in Early America, by Scott Larson
15. Epilogue: Against Consensus, by Greta LaFleur
Greta LaFleur is Associate Professor of American Studies at Yale University, and author of The Natural History of Sexuality in Early America.
Masha Raskolnikov is Associate Professor of English at Cornell University, and author of Body Against Soul.
Anna Kłosowska is Professor of French at Miami University, and coeditor of Disturbing Times.
The collection's concluding essays address methodological questions, frameworks, and terminology, offering many possibilities for approaching trans-centered analysis in medieval and early modern scholarship. Overall, the collection is an important contribution to the premodern era, and the diversity of sources, methodologies, and approaches will appeal to a wide variety of students and scholars.