Corpses, Fools and Monsters: The History and Future of Transness in Cinema

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Corpses, Fools and Monsters: The History and Future of Transness in Cinema

By Charis Books and More/Charis Circle

Charis welcomes Caden Mark Gardner and Willow Catelyn Maclay in conversation with Millie De Chirico for a discussion of Corpses, Fools and Monsters: The History and Future of Transness in Cinema, a radical history of transness in cinema, and an exploration of the political possibilities of its future.
In the history of cinema, trans people are usually murdered, made into a joke, or viewed as threats to the normal order — relegated to a lost highway of corpses, fools, and monsters. In this book, trans film critics Caden Mark Gardner and Willow Catelyn Maclay take the reader on a drive down this lost highway, exploring the way that trans people and transness have evolved on-screen. Starting from the very earliest representations of transness in silent film, through to the multiplex-conquering Matrix franchise and on to the emergence of a true trans-authored cinema, Corpses, Fools and Monsters spans everything from musicals to body horror to avant garde experimental film to tell the story of the trans film image. In doing so, the authors investigate the wider history of trans representation — an exhilarating journey of compromise, recuperation, and potential liberation that they argue is only just the beginning.

Caden Mark Gardner (he/him/his) is a film critic and researcher from Upstate New York and is the co-author of Corpses, Fools and Monsters: The History and Future of Transness in Cinema. His work has been published in Film Comment, MUBI, Los Angeles Review of books, Reverse Shot, and the Criterion Collection.

Willow Catelyn Maclay is co-author of Corpses, Fools and Monsters: The History and Future of Transness in Cinema. She has written for numerous publications including The Village Voice, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, Roger and Polygon.

Millie De Chirico is a film programmer, writer, and teacher currently based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her book, TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema, was released in October 2022 by Running Press. She is also the co-host of the weekly film podcast, I Saw What You Did, on the Exactly Right Network.

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Charis Books and More/Charis Circle

Charis Books and More/Charis Circle


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