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Lecture- Katie Sutton: Visualizing Trans Identity in Early 20th-Century Germany: Photography in Sexual Science and Emerging Trans Subcultures
WhenTuesday, Oct 1, 2019, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Campus locationDenny Hall (DEN)
Campus room359
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsDepartment of History
Department of History Diversity Committee
Department of Germanics
Department of Comparative History of Ideas

“Visualizing Trans Identity in Early 20th-Century Germany: Photography in Sexual Science and Emerging Trans Subcultures”
Lecture by Dr. Katie Sutton

Historians have paid considerable attention to the role of patient case histories in shaping modern medicine and a new field of “sexual science” from the late 19th century, but so far they have focused relatively little on the role of visual technologies such as photography in these shifts. This paper examines how photographs were deployed to illustrate the new diagnosis of “transvestism” in the work of early 20th-century German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, and compares these images with others published in the interwar trans magazine Das 3. Geschlecht (The 3rd Sex). It argues that photography was crucial not only to shaping relationships between sexologists and their patients, but also in the establishment of sexual minority cultures beyond the world of sexual science, and explores how such sources might contribute to a “queer critical history” (Doan 2013) that seeks to understand how historical subjects negotiated the limits and emancipatory potential of new labels. 

Dr. Katie Sutton is a Senior Lecturer of German and Gender Studies at the Australian National University. Her research and teaching interests focus particularly on German 20th and 21st-century culture, literature, and history, from the social and cultural upheaval of the Weimar Republic to German cinema revival of the 2000s. Much of her research deals with the history of gender and sexuality. Her forthcoming monograph is titled "Sex between Body and Mind: Psychoanalysis and Sexology in the German-speaking World, 1890s-1930s" (University of Michigan Press).

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