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Open Access Trans smuggling in Jean Genet’s Our lady of the flowers

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This article understands the work of Jean Genet, in particular his first novel, Our lady of the flowers (1943), as a site of reappraisal in the context of contemporary transgender studies scholarship. Moving away from Genet’s articulation as a figurehead of gay literature, it understands the trans elements of his work as smuggled through his canonical placement, but also as instances of smuggling in their own right. Irit Rogoff names smuggling as a mode of ‘embodied criticality’ that prioritises movement despite structures of power, and produces meaning through intricate webs of connectedness (2006, p. 1). The article sees this operation in the gender non-conforming protagonist of Genet’s text; Divine, who engages multiple configurations of recognition and movement, both in the novel and in secondary sources. Jean-Paul Sartre and Edmund White rearticulate Genet’s work within canonical frameworks of philosophy, literary, and queer studies. These are self-implicating projects in which their own canonicity becomes entwined with Genet’s, intervening in the work’s possibilities of movement and interpretation. Kathy Acker’s engagement with Genet breaks with these writers. She, likewise, engages canonical frameworks; however, her demonstrated criticality of those frameworks attempts to amplify the smuggling movement of Genet’s text. Tracing smuggling in Our lady of the flowers, this article moves towards an expanded understanding of differing configurations of visibility, differing critical priorities, and differing utilities of movement over time and space.
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Keywords: criticality; smuggling; trans

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 11, 2017

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  • Het Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies is het forum voor de wetenschappelijke problematisering van sekse in relatie tot andere vormen van discriminatie en uitsluiting zoals etniciteit, seksualiteit, klasse of leeftijd. Er worden artikelen in gepubliceerd over gendervraagstukken vanuit alle relevante disciplines die een wetenschappelijke bijdrage leveren aan debatten over gender en intersectionaliteit in Nederland en Vlaanderen. Het tijdschrift is een interdisciplinair medium op het kruispunt van maatschappij-, cultuur-, geestes-, gezondheids- en natuurwetenschappen. Het verschijnt vier keer per jaar en biedt wetenschappelijke artikelen en daarnaast ook interviews, boekrecensies, discussiedossiers en opiniërende artikelen in het Nederlands en Engels. Artikelen worden dubbelblind beoordeeld door externe deskundigen.

    The Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies (Journal of Gender Studies) is a Dutch language forum for the scientific problematisation of gender in relation to ethnicity, sexuality, class, and age. The journal aims to contribute to debates about gender and diversity in the Netherlands and Flanders. The journal is an interdisciplinary medium operating at the intersection of society, culture, the humanities, health and science. The editorial staff is open to articles about gender issues from different disciplines, and also accepts English articles. As well as publishing articles, the journal includes essays, columns (short topical and polemical articles), interviews, reviews, summaries of dissertations and conference reports. Articles are subjected to a double blind peer review process.
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