Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender

Keegan cover

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.

The book 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. 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.

“This book is a revelation! Leaving behind the more pedestrian methods of examining cinematic narratives of transgender lives, Cáel Keegan goes one huge step beyond. With this book on Lana and Lilly Wachowski, we have in our hands the first book to consider the transgender content of the Wachowskis’s massively influential cinematic practice. The trans* cinema of the Wachowskis is, according to Keegan, not just disruptive and wildly imaginative, although it is definitely that, it also represents an expansion of the popular imagination and a very different sense of life in and beyond the matrix. Keegan gives a masterful account of the Wachowskis’s world and drops his readers down the rabbit hole of a trans* altered reality. Bon voyage.” –Jack Halberstam, author of Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal

“This captivating book does more than argue persuasively for the centrality of the Wachowskis’ oeuvre in the recent history of cinema: it demonstrates how their embodied transgender experience is a central component of their aesthetic vision, and how transgender experience has become paradigmatic of visual semiotic practices in the increasingly ubiquitous digital media environment. Keegan offers lucid close readings of the entire Wachowski filmography, while also mapping generative points of overlap and intersection between cinema studies and trans studies. It makes a significant contribution to both fields.”
–Susan Stryker, founding coeditor, Transgender Studies Quarterly

Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender is a title in the University of Illinois Press Contemporary Film Directors Series, edited by Jennifer Fay and Justus Neiland.