HIST 4506A: Gender, Sexuality and Women’s History – “Trans History”
Winter 2024

Instructor: Professor Jennifer Evans

two black and white photos of Liddy Bacroff from 1930. One picture has Liddy standing while the other has Liddy seated on a chair.Transgender studies has evolved into an important field within the Humanities, emphasizing the importance of intersectional analysis, transnational, and decolonial frameworks. It has centered trans, trans*, and non-binary actors, and their different struggles with medical, legal, and national institutions that have sought to define and regulate gender mutability.

Over the course of the semester, we will take stock of some of the main interventions that have shaped the field of transgender studies. This will help us reconstruct the historical record around how trans, trans*, and non-binary people lived in the past, while thinking as well about how scholars, historians, and everyday people shape this history through their own reconstructions.

The first few weeks, we will trace the emergence of trans as a concept and then as a dedicated field of historical study, with roots in earlier discussions of gay and lesbian history, literary and anthropological theory, and queer theoretical frameworks. Then, beginning in the early modern period, we will explore how contemporary scholars characterize the trans and non-binary past including issues around naming pre-modern actors with modern categories. We will explore non-Western gender formations as a means to build out and challenge the focus in much of trans history on the Global North and West. Finally, we will turn to the 20th century and explore subjects like sexology, Nazi persecution, trans childhood, affect and the trans archive, drag, photography, and non-binary subjectivities to contextualize some of the issues animating the conversation today and the moral panics we are facing, increasingly, across the globe.

Readings for the course are yet to be determined, but they will amount to several articles and book chapters each week, up to an entire monograph. Students will take turns facilitating the conversation and participation grades will be allotted for active, fulsome, dedicated discussion. There may be either a formal research essay or a digital humanities component to the course. Details will be included with the syllabus in late August.

Questions may be directed to Jennifer_Evans@Carleton.Ca

This seminar will be co-conceived and facilitated with Noë Bourdeau.