Deep Cuts: Art and Transgender History in the United States


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


“Deep Cuts” argues that works by Forrest Bess (1911-1977), Candy Darling (1944-1974), Greer Lankton (1958-1996), and Cassils (b. 1971) illuminate the history of gender transformation in the United States, exceed the definitions of gender that are prescribed within medical definitions of transsexuality, and produce alternative methods for shaping 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.