The insight of Tiresias, the blind prophet of Greek myth, comes not only from his blindness but also from having been transformed into a woman for seven years. He’d looked at life from both sides and could better understand man’s (and woman’s) dilemma. Tiresias illustrates a fascination that we’ve had ever since we started thinking about gender, identity, and the separate roles that society (or nature) has carved out for men and women. Haven’t we all wondered about the insights we’d have if we traveled in another’s shoes, not to mention their skirt or pants?
But we’re conflicted. We may like to read fantasy and fiction about characters journeying from one gender to another, but the realities of transition are complicated and troubling to many, both those who actually make the trip and thosewho merely observe. Genderland may be forbidden and dangerous territory, but there is also a lot of love and beauty there.
In this seminar we will explore what various writers, artists, and composers think about when they think about gender. How does identity become more complicated when gender changes? What does it mean to be living in the wrong body? What’s fixed and what’s fixable?
“She remembered how, as a young man, she had insisted that women must be obedient, chaste, scented, and exquisitely apparelled.”
– Virginia Woolf, Orlando