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Dissertation Defense Alex Thinius | Agnietenkapel

Event details of Genders as Genres: Understanding Dynamic Categories
Date 7 July 2021
Time 13:00

What does it mean to be of a particular gender? I answer this question with an account of genders as dynamic categories, exploring the analogy between what genders are (e.g., men or women) and what genres are (e.g., Novels, Ballads, or Hip-Hop). For instance, due to its relation to other and earlier pieces, we recognize, e.g., a particular song as Hip-Hop. However, the piece will also develop that genre further. Likewise, e.g., the category of men emerges, persists and transforms through a specific sort of response of individuals to earlier supposed men, which emerges in social interactions.

Drawing on critical and (trans-)feminist theory, phenomenologist, enactivist, and systems theoretical approaches, I show that gender categories themselves develop in a dynamic between three elements: (1) at any given time, there is an enactment class of individuals ambiguously belonging to the category in question; (2) these individuals are, in an embodied and intersubjective way, enacted as practical reinterpretations of earlier members of that category; (3) this unfolds in a matrix of hermeneutic and material relations, which loop with both the class and the enaction.

Thereby, that an individual is gendered, emerges between two levels of enaction, that of bodily people and that of the dynamic between them. As what an individual is gendered in enaction, however, is constituted by relations within and beyond that situation. This responsive realization gives rise to feedbacking histories of acts, people, relations, and enactment classes, thus explaining how gender can be both solid and open to change.