Kevin Jenkins, Ph.D., 2018

Dis/appearance, In/visibility and the Transitioning Body on Social Media: A Post-Qualitative & Multimodal Inquiry

2018 — In this theoretical and creative sensory-rich multimodal dissertation, encompassing video, audio, photography, a graphic novel, interactive timeline, and other creative visual/textual provocations, I focus on transgender subjectivity and gender transition (re)presentations on social media.

The theoretical framework of the study relies on Judith Butler’s notions of performativity and precarity and Julia Serano’s considerations on oppositional and cissexism. From the review of the literature, I analyze transgender histories and theories as well as contested areas of research in qualitative and post-qualitative approaches to inquiry.

Influenced by the theories, inquires, speculations, and experiences that emerged from the study, I aim to move beyond conventional qualitative research that has become normalized and regimented and beyond book form dissertations in favor of digital dissertations that use nontraditional multimodal formats.

I use Personal Learning Network sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Tumblr and the dissertation website as research constellations. These assemblages are comprised of theoretical and creative proximal bodies of knowledge with high levels of connectivity and contingency, a phenomenon I argue is needed to rethink how transgender knowledge and ontologies are learned, transferred, and (re)created via social media. This study also suggests that the analytical constructs of dis/appearance, in/visibility, and trans/digressions shed light on how gender precarity performs transitioning bodies in the physical and digital world.

I draw tentative conclusions in terms of future inspirations and movements for art and art education with/in post-qualitative inquiry and transgender theory, in particular, a shift into multimodal, trans-affirmative and inclusive experiences and pedagogies.