BTW

Final Translation Project 

Introduction to Queer Critique
Gender, Sexuality & Feminism Studies

The (not) ‘Born This Way’ is brainchild of Abbie Hinchman, Nadani Dixon and Maria Bobbit-Chertock as the final project to Introduction to Queer Critique, a class taught at Middlebury College by Professor Carly Thomsen. 

Introduction to Queer Critique introduces students to the academic field of queer theory. The goal is  to learn how to ask questions and approach topics in new ways. We have examined taken-for-granted ideas about sexuality through focusing on queer theoretical analyses of the body, place and space, and contemporary LGBTQ politics. Queer theorists have long provided alternative ways of conceptualizing embodiment, argued that social logics are inherently spatialized, and critiqued mainstream LGBTQ movements. In this class, we have explore how thinking differently about bodies, place, and politics opens up new ways to understand sexuality—and vice versa.

In doing so, we have drawn from queer theorists to think about how one’s sexuality has come to be a large part of one’s identity, how some social issues are considered private and others public, about desires for community, identity, and cultural recognition, and relations among social justice, equality, and rights. Our goal is to think “queerly” about sexuality and the various identities and experiences sexuality shapes and is shaped through, including race, gender, class, disability, geography and so on.

Our project seeks to trouble popular LGBTQ rights movements’ ‘Born This Way’ narrative. This class has introduced us to this narrative’s implicit pathological ideology. We have been made aware of its lack of medical support, and political drivers that has caused this discourse to seep into popular culture as a means of gaining tolerance for the LGBTQ community. We find it important to highlight that this narrative based on one's anatomy is factually untrue and has yet to be proven accurately by scientists. We also believe it is worthwhile examining the potential this narrative has to erase the importance of choices as it relates to one's sexual desires. 

 

For the final project, we created a video that features our project’s group members’ articulations of the problem with ‘Born This Way’ discourse based on a couple texts we have read throughout the semester. The video is interspersed with examples of the ‘Born This Way’ narrative in popular culture: interviews with queer celebrities, “coming-out” scenes in movies and television shows, etc. We have also produce a series of artfully-designed posters that problematize this narrative and propose a queerer alternative. The poster series centralizes confrontational language that emphasizes the difference between sexuality and gender, the limitations of perceiving desire as compulsory and fixed, and the importance of dismissing a political narrative that implicitly suggests queerness is a problem to be scrutinized, subdued, and solved. These art posters are complemented with informational ‘fact sheets’ that relate explicit data referenced in Walters’ “Medical Gayz,” and Ward’s “No One is Born Gay (Or Straight).”

This website acts as a living archive for all parts of this project and is our final deliverable. It is our hope that future generations of students may engage with our project’s ideas and in the spirit of Queer Critique critically analyze and imagine differently (queerly!) as a way to get free of ourselves.

 

Project Elements

 
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VIDEO ARTICULATION

Photo by Jacob Owen

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ART POSTERS

Photo by Steve Johnson

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FACT SHEETS

Photo by Louis Reed 

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OP-ED ARTICULATION

Photo by Fabien Barral