Alexander, Jonathan. “Transgender Rhetorics: (Re)Composing Narratives of the Gendered Body.” College Composition and Communication 57.1 (2005): 45-82.

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Summary:

Alexander is thinking about the ways we usually talk about gender in the composition classroom and trying to show how transgender theories can expand these conceptions of gender because they encourage us to to think of gender not just as constructed or performed but as “a material and embodied reality” (47). The aspects of trans theories he finds particularly compelling include the way they challenge gender constructs we take for granted as given, highlight the limits of performativity by drawing attention to the lived, embodied realities of gender, and the pedagogical focus of much of the writing. He talks about a classroom assignment where, rather than asking students to respond to trans writing, he asked them to do a writing assignment that forced them to grapple with some of the questions posed by trans writers–an assignment that got students to engage with their own, shared assumptions about gender. Alexander builds on his discussion of the benefits of this assignment for students within a feminist pedagogical framework to argue that the assignment highlights how embodied gender is and to argue for greater attention to the way the body is imagined in our discussions of gender.

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