Djuna Barnes S Nightwood And Transgender Epistemologies In The Biopolitical State

Author by : Aleta Frances Gruenewald
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Description : This thesis examines why contemporary transgender populations in democratic states fail to see the benefits of social rights legislation. I use Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer to explain how transgender people have become encamped in the margins of the contemporary biopolitical world in such a way as the rule of law does not apply to them. This encampment is especially severe for those who defy our current way of understanding transgender identity. I trace transgender back to its inter-war origins in order to establish how medicalized discourses have created the narrow contemporary definition. I use Djuna Barnes's Nightwood, which details the lives of non-passing inverts in the "night-world" of interwar Europe, to trace an alternate history of transgender subjects who have been excluded from such discourses. Linking Barnes's characterization of inverted figures to contemporary trans people who do not pass allows for the creation of alternate transgender epistemologies that undermine states of encampment.