‘trans-‘

Chair: Daniel O’Gorman, Oxford Brookes

Speakers:

Kristian Shaw, (Lincoln) – ‘Transnational Fictions’

Dorothy Butchard, (Birmingham) – ‘“Trans atlas, trans antic”: Transatlantic Exchanges in Contemporary Fiction’

Emily Rose (UEA) – ‘Translating “Transcending Body Stories”: Can We Move Beyond Gender in Literature?’

Oliver Paynel (Royal Holloway) – ‘Transaesthetics’

‘trans–’
Prefix, denoting: ‘across’, ‘beyond’, ‘through’, ‘changing thoroughly’, ‘on the other side of’.
English Studies has long been fascinated with different kinds of ‘trans–’. On a stylistic level, transcription, transliteration and translation are often prerequisites for literature to be brought into the world in the first place. Transformation, transition, transgression, or even transcendence are rarely far from its central thematic concerns. In recent years, we have seen the emergence of entire sub-categories of literary and theoretical analysis reliant upon the term: transgender, transnational, transhuman, and others. In terms of form, author Douglas Coupland has notably gone as far as to identify a new genre of fiction that he calls ‘translit’: that is, a set of contemporary novels that ‘cross history without being historical. … Translit collapses time and space as it seeks to generate narrative traction in the reader’s mind’. Meanwhile, discussing a very different kind of ‘trans lit’, Jacqueline Rose has noted: ‘At moments, reading trans narratives, I have felt the range of utterances the trans person is permitted narrow into a stranglehold: “I am discriminated against.” “I suffer.” “I am perfectly fine.” “There is nothing wrong with me”’.

This panel aims to draw out the intersections between different – and perhaps not always overtly related – iterations of the fascination with ‘trans–’ in English Studies. It seeks to reveal potentially helpful points of connection between these literary and theoretical sub-fields, and in doing so to both foreground and productively examine an ongoing ideological preoccupation in the discipline with this seemingly simple prefix that we so frequently employ.

Wednesday 5th July, 5.00