Université de Strasbourg

Todd Reeser

Biography - Todd Reeser

University of Pittsburgh, USA & USIAS Fellow, Society, Stakeholders and Governments in Europe (SAGE), University of Strasbourg and CNRS, France

Todd Reeser, USIAS Fellow 2021Todd W. Reeser is Professor of French and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, Chairperson of the Department of French and Italian, and former Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (USA).

His research lies at the intersection of French and gender/sexuality studies, with a focus on politics, identity, and culture. His research combines cutting-edge theoretical approaches with contextualized close-readings of a variety of types of texts. His temporal frames are the early modern and the 20th/21st centuries.

He has published two books in early modern studies: Moderating Masculinity in Early Modern Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 2006) and Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance (University of Chicago Press, 2016). The latter book won the Gordan Prize for best book in Renaissance studies from the Renaissance Society of America in 2017. 

Professor Reeser also works in contemporary gender/sexuality studies. In 2010, he published Masculinities in Theory (Blackwell), now a widely-cited monograph providing a series of theoretical models for considering masculinity studies from a literary/cultural perspective, especially as inflected by post-structuralist thought. His more recent work extends that project into the relation between affect studies and masculinity, and he is currently editing a major volume for Routledge on gender and affect, and writing a book for Manchester University Press on queer French film of the 21st century. He is also currently working on a monograph Transgender France: Universalism and Sexual Subjectivity, studying how the inception and development of the category of transgender/transsexual in France starting in the 1950s relates to political ideas on the “universalist” citizen.

Professor Marine de Lassalle, from the research unit Society, Stakeholders and Governments in Europe (SAGE), will welcome Todd Reeser during his time in Strasbourg.

Project - Transgender France: universalism and sexual subjectivity

01/12/2021 - 30/11/2022

In France, the omnipresent principle of universalism means that legally a citizen is defined as a citizen first, and only secondly as a member of a “particular” identitarian or communitarian category (e.g. Muslim, woman, homosexual). As a major element of national identity, French universalism has been widely studied and cited, often with respect to specific categories. Extending the question of the relation between universalism and identity into uncharted territory, my book project Transgender France: Universalism and Sexual Subjectivity makes two historically-based arguments about the French context: that universalism has defined the representation of transgender subjects since the inception of the category “transsexualité” in the 1950s until today; that trans representation has mediated but also critiqued French universalism more broadly, revealing an otherwise unstated assumption of universalism, namely its biopolitical foundation in the idea of an inviolable and stably gendered body. Over the course of five chapters, I study how this relationship is articulated “officially” in medical, psychoanalytic, and legal discourse, but also in more popular sources (television, film, documentary, news, tabloids, literature, theatre, autobiography) through contextualized close readings.

This interdisciplinary project will appeal to readers in both gender studies and French studies, as well as in media studies, communications, and the history of medicine. Because France has such control over medicine and the ways in which “healthy” bodies are produced and reproduced, this national context offers an especially important case study in how transgender and nation-state relate. Despite French culture’s close cultural connections to transgender, no monograph on transgender France written in English exists, and French work on this topic does not take a political approach to representation. This book will help correct the focus on Anglophone contexts in the bourgeoning field of transgender studies.

France 2030