Speaker Series: Victoria Coulson

“Gilbert Osmond, transwoman: Norms of embodiment and transgender recognition in The Portrait of a Lady

Dr. Victoria Coulson (University of York)

27 November 2020 @ 3:00 PM Pacific Time
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So powerful is the taboo on corporeal translocation – a mode of being in which the subject’s body is located outside his or her physical person – that the phenomenon has not been directly described at any length in cultural criticism or theory, notwithstanding the perhaps very widespread modern and contemporary occurrence of subjects embodied in this way. In this talk Victoria Coulson contends that unexamined norms of embodiment have prevented generations of readers from attending respectfully to James’s transgender protagonist, Gilbert Osmond, and to Gilbert’s transgender antagonists Ralph and Rosier, and she shows how a recognition of these characters’ various practices of translocated embodiment can transform our vision of James’s novel.