Trans* Speaker Series: 'DeVine's Cut'
December 1, 2016
UMass Amherst Campus
In this lecture, C. Riley Snorton will interrogate the absent presence of Phillip DeVine from the public memory of the Humboldt killings and the national narration of Brandon Teena, as a transgender martyr.
While rarely mentioned at all, DeVine's ascription as "wrong place, wrong time," a rhetorical maneuver that situates DeVine's presence in the Brandon archive by evacuating his place within, and as a necessary consequence of, the archive's construction, is instructive for Riley's reading of the symptomatically disavowed coarticulations of antiblackness and anti-trans violence, as it engenders a way to perceive how the mechanisms that contribute to Brandon Teena's symbolic significance to trans historiography simultaneously posit DeVine's figuration as always and already untimely, assigned to a conversation perpetually deferred. Making use of biomythography and following Sylvia Wynter's work, this talk ponders on what aspects of DeVine's figuration, as a matter of sociogenesis, constitute a usable history for more livable black and trans lives? Snorton contends that to presence DeVine - to invent his/a life - then is to approach phenomenologically the interstitialities of black and trans life and black and trans death, particularly as it bears upon the current conjuncture of black trans life and spectacularized black trans deaths and their routes of public circulation in Transgender Days of Remembrance/Resistance and as they has given rise to the #TransLivesMatters and #BlackTransLivesMatters movements.
C. Riley Snorton earned his PhD in communication and culture, with graduate certificates in Africana studies and gender and sexuality studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. He is a recipient of a predoctoral fellowship at the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University (2009), a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Pomona College (2010), and a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (2015). Snorton's research and teaching expertise include cultural theory, queer and transgender theory and history, Africana studies, performance studies, and popular culture. He has published articles in Black Scholar, the International Journal of Communication, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, Souls: A Critical Journal ofBlack Politics, and Culture, and Society.
Snorton's first book, Nobody Is Supposed to Know:Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), traces the emergence and circulation of the down low in news and popular culture. He is currently working on his second book, tentatively titled Black on Both Sides: Race and the Remaking of Trans History, which explores the transitivities of blackness and transness across the long 20th century. He has also been listed as one of "Ten Transgender People You Should Know" by BET.
Organized by the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies with support from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the Provost's Office.