Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender

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Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender, is the first academic monograph to consider the historical and cultural importance of Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s entire filmography, and the first to contain an interview with Lana Wachowski. Broadly, it asks how the field of trans* theory might reanimate discussions of gender in film studies, combining the turn toward the sensuous in film theory with new explorations of transgender phenomenology and aesthetics. Specifically, it is the first academic book-length study to explore the Wachowski sisters as the world’s most influential transgender media producers.

The project theorizes how the advent of transgender politics, the evolution of digital cinema, and the anti-capitalist imaginary collide in the Wachowskis’ films, suggesting that their body of work can be read as an aesthetic history of transgender political consciousness as it has evolved discursively in popular media. Written from an interdisciplinary cultural studies methodology, it explores the significance of the Wachowskis as film and genre innovators who have permanently altered the technology and aesthetics of cinematic reality and its bodies. The project examines how the Wachowskis’ films smuggled a transgender aesthetic into the very heart of global media, arguing that their work has established trans* as a popular speculative mode for imagining against and beyond dominant representations of gender, race, space, and time. The book takes up trans* expansively, as an aesthetic that dramatizes movement between bodies and genders as well as across systems, consciousnesses, times, spaces, and media formats. Offering compelling new readings of the Wachowskis’ visual works from Bound to Sense8, the project presents a complex negotiation with transgender across twenty years of media history.

Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender is forthcoming in Fall 2018 from the University of Illinois Press’ Contemporary Film Directors Series, edited by Jennifer Fay and Justus Neiland.