Transgender Architectonics : The Shape of Change in Modernist Space book cover
1st Edition

Transgender Architectonics
The Shape of Change in Modernist Space

ISBN 9780367597344
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
192 Pages

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Book Description

Combining transgender studies with the ’neomodernist’ architectures of the internationally renowned firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and with modernist writers (Samuel Beckett and Virginia Woolf) whose work anticipates that of transgender studies, this book challenges the implicit ’spatial models’ of popular narratives of transgender - interiority, ownership, sovereignty, structure, stability, and domesticity - to advance a novel theorization of transgender as a matter of exteriority, groundlessness, ornamentation, and movement. With case studies spanning the US and UK, Transgender Architectonics examines the ways in which modernist architecture can contribute to our understanding of how it is that humans are able to transform, shedding light on the manner in which architecture, space, and the spatial metaphors of gender can play significant - if often unrealized - potential roles in body and gender transformation. By remedying both the absence of actual architecture in queer theory's discussions of space and also architectural theory's marginal treatment of transgender, this volume constitutes a serious intervention in the field of ’queer space’. It draws on modernist literature in order to reckon with and rebuild the architectural ideas that already implicitly structure common understandings of the queer and transgender self. As such, it will appeal to scholars with interests in queer theory, the body and transformation, gender and sexuality, modernist writing and architectural theory.

Table of Contents

Introduction; Foundations and ruins: why don’t transgender and architecture get along?; How to beat a straight flush: DS+R’s Brasserie and the rhetoric of transgender ‘plumbing’; ‘The ladies lavatory’: Woolf and the transgender biographical imperative; Woolf’s Einfühlung: an alternative theory of transgender affect, space, and time; ‘I’ll call him Mahood instead, I prefer that, I’m queer’: Samuel Beckett’s spatial aesthetic of name change; Against transgender integrity: Beckett’s grey matter; Epilogue: a transgender poetics of the High Line park

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Lucas Crawford is Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University, Canada.


’Given that transgender bodies (like all bodies, though often in less naturalized and more exoticized ways) are built environments, it's shocking that architectural theory has not grappled with transgender embodiment in a sustained way until now. Lucas Crawford fills a gap in the literature so big that it was hard to see. A fun and fascinating read.’ Susan Stryker, University of Arizona, USA ’It takes an original thinker to place Diller and Scofidio's High Line alongside Samuel Beckett and Virginia Woolf's experimental prose in the service of transgender theory and practice. By reading literature and architecture together, Lucas Crawford crafts a bold and brilliant vision for trans spaces in which all bodies and genders can flourish. I want to live in this book's world.’ Ann Cvetkovich, Cornell University, USA ’Architectural theory is transitioning! Lucas Crawford uses architecture as a critical model to rethink transgender embodiment and then uses transgender politics as a deconstructive method to unsettle conventional views on architecture. A breakthrough both for gender studies and architectural theory.’ Paul B. Preciado, University of Paris VIII, France and The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, Spain