Missing the Marc: Trans Identities in Nineteenth-Century France

Controversial Art in Modern and Contemporary French Culture

Missing the Marc: Trans Identities in Nineteenth-Century France  |  April 20, 4—5 p.m. CT

Guest Lecturer: Rachel Mesch, Professor of English and French and Chair, English Department, Yeshiva University; National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Fellowship, 2017-18.

Marc de Montifaud was a renowned art critic before publishing titillating works that were repeatedly censored for “offense to public decency.” Montifaud was bewildered by punishments they felt didn’t fit the crime, and continued to write erotic tales as well as passionate treatises in self-defense. They were as angry about being censored as about being sent to a women’s prison rather than the one where male artists and writers were sent for similar infractions.

This talk explores Montifaud’s efforts to express their gender nonconformity, arguing that the disproportionate response by the forces of authority was a function of the public’s inability to identify the precise nature of Montifaud’s affront. Montifaud refused to concede because they thrived on this perpetual misunderstanding, which allowed them to make visible a state of tension with a world that had not yet imagined them. Register here.


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