CFP: Cross-dressing in fact and in fiction: norms, bodies, identities

Cross-dressing in fact and in fiction: norms, bodies, identities 

Where: The University of Toulous, France

When: April 21, 2017

Submission guidelines: Please send your proposal and a short bio to the conference convenor at before November 1st, 2016. A selection of papers will be considered for publication.

Fashion, the sociology of dress and the semiology of clothing have been the object of much attention since Roland Barthes’s The Fashion System (Système de la mode, 1967). Closer to us, contemporary critics, such as Joanne Entwistle, remind us that dressing of all kind is cultural knowledge, acquired thorough training (Entwistle, The Fashioned Body: fashion, dress and modern social theory, Polity 2000). If dress is one of the most significant markers of class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, as well as of cultural and professional identity, then what kind of political and aesthetic transgressions does cross-dressing constitute/enable? What forms does it take? How is it performed and experienced? What are its effects? What kind of new possibilities does it open up? And what kind of empowerment or knowledge does it yield? A crucially disruptive act, cross-dressing fundamentally challenges binary categories, introducing, as Marjorie Garber contends, a “category crisis”. What Garber calls “the extraordinary power of transvestism” resides in its capacity to expose “cultural or aesthetic dissonances and to undermine the very notion of an ‘original’ or a ‘stable’ identity” (Garber, Vested Interests, Routledge 1992). This one-day conference will explore the various representations, aesthetics and epistemologies of cross-dressing in nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first century history, literature, painting, photography and film in English-speaking countries.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Female-to-male or male-to-female cross-dressing and the constructedness of gender categories
  • Cross-dressing and sexuality

  •  The figure of the cross-dresser; historical examples of cross-dressers

  • The Dandy, the New Woman etc.
  • Cross-dressing and racial passing / colonial cross-dressing
  • Social cross-dressing
  • Cross-dressing detectives/spies, soldiers, etc.
  • Cross-dressing vs. androgyny
  • Cross-dressing and the law / criminality
  • Theatrical cross-dressing; music hall cross-dressing acts
  • Challenges to normative dress codes through fashion movements, magazines etc.
  • Narrative, generic or aesthetic cross-dressing

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