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Cael Keegan

Assistant Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies/Liberal Studies

Phone: 331-8216
Office: 212 Lake Ontario Hall
Visit Professor Keegan's Professional Page

LIB 201: Diversity in the United States
LIB 325: LGBTQ Identities
WGS 224: Intro to LGBTQ Studies
WGS 365: Queer Theory

Research Interests:
My research and writing explore how the popular moving image might generate or sustain possibilities for queer and transgender becoming in the social world. I am primarily interested in how—despite being presented with a culture that largely denies our diverse experiences—queer and trans people continue to find and create ways of  imagining otherwise. My work, which theorizes the lived relationship between LGBTQIA people and popular culture, is a sustained attempt to understand the politics of queer/trans aesthetics and narrativity over the past century. I am deeply interested in how film and television are created and circulated within culture and how they might offer new ways of feeling or living for queer and trans subjects. My recent writing pursues these questions in visual texts as varied as TransAmerica, Rebel Without a Cause, Tea and Sympathy, Brokeback Mountain, Boys Dont Cry, Transparent, Looking, Angels in America, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Orphan Black, The Matrix Trilogy, Under the Skin, and Sense8.

As an interdisciplinarian, my scholarship is situated at the intersection of multiple fields— transgender studies, queer studies, cultural studies, film and television studies, affect studies, and phenomenology. As an academician trained in American Studies, I maintain a strong interest in how narrativity and aesthetics deliver both overt and covert forms of political information. The stories we tell as a culture, and how we choose to tell them, reveal a great deal about the American political imagination. My work is committed to investigating the democratic potential of our popular narratives and the manner in which they aestheticize our shared political life. How do we create the world we are taught to expect, how can we unlearn those expectations, and what other possibilities might then emerge? Students taking my courses can expect to investigate these questions intensely.

My current book project, The Wachowskis: Imaging Transgender, is the first academic monograph to consider the historical and cultural importance of Andy and Lana Wachowski’s filmography. 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 mainstream Hollywood cinema. The project analyzes the Wachowskis’ work as a popular archive that draws out the radical implications of trans through speculative explorations of convergence, virtuality, biopolitical surveillance, and capitalist realism. I take up the concept of “trans” expansively, as an aesthetic that dramatizes movement between bodies and genders as well as across systems, consciousnesses, times, spaces, and media formats in an exploration of the political conditions of late capitalist hypermodernity.

Other Interests:
Transgender cultural production, histories, and politics. Gender self-determination and gender justice movements. American masculinities. Queer/trans cult film and television. Cats, comics, coffee, and speculative fiction. Vegan cooking. Kate Bush. Queen. October. The Wizard of Oz. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. All things Buffy.

Selected Publications:

Under Review
The Wachowskis: Imaging Transgender. Book proposal.
“Revisitation: A Trans Phenomenology of the Media Image.” MedieKultur.
          Special Issue: Gender and Media Revisited.

“On Being the Object of Compromise.” Transgender Studies Quarterly. 3.1
          (Spring 2016).
“Emptying the Future: Queer Melodramatics and Negative Utopia on Buffy the
          Vampire Slayer
.” Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture. 1.1. (2016).

In Print
“California and the Queer Utopian Imagination." A History of California Literature. Ed.
          Blake Allmendinger. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015. 327-42.       
“Looking Transparent.” Studies in Gender and Sexuality. Eds. Stephen Hartman and
          Don Romesburg. Vol. 16.1 (May 2015). 137-8.
“Queer Sensations: Postwar American Melodrama and the Crisis of Queer Juvenility." 
         Thymos: The Journal of Boyhood Studies. Vol. 7.2 (Fall 2013). 
“Moving Bodies: Sympathetic Migrations in Transgender Narrativity." Genders.
          Vol. 55. (Spring 2013).


PhD, American Studies, University at Buffalo