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Deep Cuts: Art and Transgender History in the United States

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 22, 2019. 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Humanities Center
Feminist/Queer Colloquium 2018
Meeting Description: 

For this talk, Cyle Metzger will present excerpts from his dissertation. Titled “Deep Cuts,” this project describes how works of art by Forrest Bess (1911-1977), Candy Darling (1944-1974), Greer Lankton (1958-1996), and Cassils (b. 1971) trace the evolution of theories and methods of medical sex and gender transition from their origins in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe to their development in the United States after World War II. By tracing this history, this project argues that these works expose the limitations of medical approaches to understanding transsexuality and transgender identity that have pervaded in the United States since the 1950s and offer alternative methods for transforming transgender bodies. Through direct engagement with objects made by these artists, their personal archives, and histories of sexual medicine in the United States, this dissertation is the first book-length project to address transgender history in postwar American art. By resisting anatomically determined gender categories in favor of more expansive approaches to gender in art and contemporary culture, it constructs a more capacious and accurate picture of gender in American art of the second half of the twentieth century.

Cyle is a current fourth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford, focusing on queer and transgender art history, and will be a Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellow in American Art during the 2019-2020 academic year. In addition to working on his dissertation, Cyle is currently editing the forthcoming transgender issue of the Journal of Visual Culture with Dr. Kirstin Ringelberg and was a contributing author to the 2019 edition of the book Art and Queer Culture, written and edited by Dr. Richard Meyer and artist Catherine Lord. Prior to his doctoral work, Cyle earned an MA in art history from the University of California - Riverside, where he was a 2014-15 Chancellor's Fellow and wrote his masters thesis on the notion of queer phenomenology in architecture through the work of artist Sarah Oppenheimer. In 2010, he also received an MFA in interdisciplinary studio art from the Mount Royal School at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and completed his BA in liberal arts from Bennington College in 2008. Equally committed to teaching and producing scholarship and visual art, Cyle has also taught art history, design, and studio art courses at the San Francisco State University, George Mason University, Towson University, and Frederick Community College since 2011.