Happy June to all! Let’s kick off this Pride month with a little queer subtext:
Along with Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors, I finished a biography of Christine de Pizan by Charity Cannon Willard, the foremost scholar on this topic to date. Such rampant queerness (even if tempered by dated-ness and the perspective and agenda particular to each author!) Both books gave me plenty to think and write about–and it was definitely illuminating to read them both in parallel.
Selected points of intersection that I found compelling are as follows:
- the simultaneity of trans/cross-gender persecution and emerging capitalist economic systems in the general time and geographical area where Christine was writing
- Christine’s deep admiration for the work of Jeanne D’Arc (Joan of Arc) coupled with Feinberg’s devotion of an entire chapter (along with references liberally sprinkled throughout hir book) to Joan of Arc’s personal experiences with trans/cross-gender persecution
- the marked class differences between Christine, who circulated amongst the nobles of the Italian and French courts, and the peasantry who Feinberg documents as having participated in comparatively communal societies, with cross-gender activity in ritual being a key component thereof
- what for me was a distinctly second wave feel to components of both Feinberg’s and Christine’s ‘feminisms,’ if either can be defensibly called so
Both of these books will serve as part of the foundation for the rest of the summer’s research. Leslie Feinberg’s was a sweeping history of trans/cross-gender activity in largely Western contexts, with an interesting perspective on kingdom/nation-building in the Middle Ages and how that relates to the oppression of the trans community (I use both words very loosely) then and now. Charity Cannon Willard offered a thorough and informative account of the major events in Christine’s life and the connective tissue between them. She also did a wonderful job contextualizing each of Christine’s major works, connecting them with events in Christine’s personal life and with the larger political/economical situation in France and the surrounding areas. I have pages and pages of notes stuck in the margins of Willard’s book, which I must set to transcribing at once. Off I go!