Students who attend a liberal arts college in Chicago gain access to a wide variety of resources, events, ideas and people. Shimer College has a 150-year reputation of encouraging interaction between students who at some point in their lives may have felt different, or set apart from mainstream society. Shimer is known for encouraging an open and inclusive dialogue between its students, professors, and inspiring figures who encourage living life “outside the box.”
The Representing Trans* symposium, opening November 8th 2014 at the Gray Centre Lab on the University of Chicago campus, presents an excellent opportunity for Shimerians to join an particularly important and inspiring conversation. This year, among a panel of influential artists, academics and activists working in realm of trans* representation, the symposium will be attended by keynote speaker and acclaimed author Kate Bornstein.
Representing Trans* Symposium
By its very nature, a liberal arts education invites students to explore and engage with a wide range of ideologies, cultural artefacts, and ways of being in the world. Increasingly, college campuses across the country are representing the trans* and queer population through community-gathering events, and students at Shimer are lucky to have the Representing Trans* Symposium right here on campus. The day-long event will include discussions on sociological, artistic and activist approaches to trans* representation. Voices from some of North America’s most prominent academics and artists working in the realm of trans* representation will be present, including PhD professors from Harvard and a number of influential authors. The evening will be devoted to a conversation with artist and activist Kate Bornstein, followed by a screening of the autobiographical film Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger, based on her published memoir.
Hailing from New Jersey, Kate Bornstein is an author, playwright, performance artist, and self-proclaimed “gender outlaw.” In 1986, Bornstein shed her assigned birth gender of male and had sex reassignment surgery. As someone who does not identify with a male or female gender, Kate Bornstein has become a leading critical voice on gender theory and gender binaries. Bornstein’s unique experiences as a trans* person at odds with an exclusive society, fueled a life of theatre, performance art, and writing.
Anyone pursuing a liberal arts education will surely feel inspired to hear Bornstein speak in person, and develop a richer appreciation of her ground-breaking work. Bornstein’s performance pieces include The Opposite Sex is Neither, Hidden: A Gender, and Strangers in Paradox. Authored works include My Gender Workbook and the renowned Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives To Suicide For Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws. The 2014 film Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger, based on Bornstein’s life, was directed by Sam Feder and is an intimate portrait of the author as an artist. The film explores Bornstein’s artistry and influences on language, space and how society views gender.