n Gender Questions - Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality, Gayle Salamon - book review

Volume 5 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2309-9704



Gayle Salamon’s Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality, published nearly seven years ago, continues to be a challenging and engaging, though at times tricky philosophical thesis. Salamon sets out to challenge the assumed unmediated access and epistemological certainty of the material body, contending that “current ideas of what a body is will be irremediably diminished until trans bodies and subjectivities are considered in a more thorough way” (1). In part, the text is a defence of queer theory taking the somewhat circuitous route of addressing how trans critics perceive and understand queers’ reliance on social construction. It is this defence that is one of the most distinctive elements of the book, which is in turn—perhaps unsurprisingly so, given that she is also thanked in the opening to the text—also a defence of Judith Butler. The book also tackles some of the thornier issues that have, since its publication, come to dominate debates within transgender studies, including: the role, place and trajectory of trans autobiographies; visual representation and meaning making; and the on-going tense relationship between women’s studies and trans studies.

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