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Gender studies - United-States

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French studies
Gender studies



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.

Activities / Resume


Todd Reeser is Professor of French and Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. He has published widely on gender and sexuality in literature, theory, film, and culture. He has written two monographs on masculinity: the first on constructs of masculinity as moderate in the European Renaissance (Moderating Masculinity in Early Modern Culture (UNC, 2006)) and the second on theoretical approaches to the interdisciplinary and bourgeoning field of masculinity studies (Masculinities in Theory (Blackwell, 2010)). His lengthy, comparative book on the anachronistic reception of "Platonic love," Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance, came out at the University of Chicago Press in 2016 and won the Phyllis Gordan Prize from the Renaissance Society of America for best book of the year in Renaissance studies. He has edited a number of special issues of journals, including a volume on the topic “Transgender France,” and he is now at work on a new monograph on trans* representation and universalism in French culture from the 50s to today. With his work lying at the intersection of French and gender/sexuality studies, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on gender/sexuality.



  • Translation and edition of Symphorien Champier, La Nef des dames vertueuses / The Ship of Virtuous Ladies, with introduction (Toronto: Center for Renaissance and Reformation Studies, 2018). 210 pp.
  • Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance, comparative monograph (France, Italy, Germany). Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2016. 416 pp. Winner: Gordan Prize for best book in Renaissance studies by the Renaissance Society of America, 2017.
  • Approaches to Teaching the Works of François Rabelais. New York: Modern Language Association, 2011, with Floyd Gray (second editor). 335 + vii pp.
  • Masculinities in Theory, interdisciplinary monograph on masculinity and literary/cultural theory. Chichester, UK and Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 238 + vi pp.
  • “Entre hommes”: French and Francophone Masculinities in Theory and Culture, with Lewis Seifert. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008. 295 pp.
  • Moderating Masculinity in Early Modern Culture, in the series North Carolina Studies in the Romance Languages and Literatures. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. 288 pp.


  • “Masculinity and Affect: New Possibilities, New Agendas.” NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, Reeser, T. and Gottzén, L., eds. (2018).
  • “Revisiting the Emotions of Men and Masculinities.” NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, Gottzén, L. and Reeser, T., eds. (2017). Double issue.
  • “Montaigne, Affect, Emotion,” special issue of Montaigne Studies (2018), with introduction.
  • “Transgender France,” special issue of Esprit Créateur 53 (May 2013). 13 original articles. 172 pp.
  • “The Idea of France,” special issue of Contemporary French and Francophone Studies (Sites) (April 2013). Co-edited with Giuseppina Mecchia and journal editors.
  • “French Masculinities,” special issue of Esprit Créateur 43 (Fall 2003), with Lewis Seifert. 102 pp.
  • “Transsexuality and the Production of French Universalism: René Gaveau’s Adam est…Eve (1954),” French Review 91.2 (2017): 126-38.
  • “Producing Awkwardness: Normative Masculinity and Affective Labour in Popular Culture,” Mosaic: an interdisciplinary critical journal 50.4 (December 2017): 51-69.
  • “Theorizing the Masculinity of Affect,” in Masculinities and Literary Studies: Intersections and New Directions, eds. Josep M. Armengol, Marta Bosch-Vilarrubias, Àngels Carabí, and Teresa Requena-Pelegrí (New York: Routledge, 2017), 109-20.
  • “Queer Energy and the Indeterminate Object of Desire in Montaigne’s ‘On some Verses of Virgil’,” The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 16, no. 4 (2016), 38-72.
  • “On Gender,” forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Montaigne, ed. Philippe Desan (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2016), 562-80. On gender/queer theory’s relation to gender in Montaigne.
  • “Concepts of Masculinity and Masculinity Studies,” in Configuring Masculinity in Theory and Literary Practice (Leiden and Boston: Rodopi and Brill, 2015), 11-38.