Trans smuggling in Jean Genet’s Our lady of the flowers | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 20, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 1388-3186
  • E-ISSN: 2352-2437



This article understands the work of Jean Genet, in particular his first novel, (1943), as a site of reappraisal in the context of contemporary transgender studies scholarship. Moving away from Genet’s articulation as a figurehead of gay literature, it understands the trans elements of his work as smuggled through his canonical placement, but also as instances of smuggling in their own right. Irit Rogoff names smuggling as a mode of ‘embodied criticality’ that prioritises movement despite structures of power, and produces meaning through intricate webs of connectedness (2006, p. 1). The article sees this operation in the gender non-conforming protagonist of Genet’s text; Divine, who engages multiple configurations of recognition and movement, both in the novel and in secondary sources. Jean-Paul Sartre and Edmund White rearticulate Genet’s work within canonical frameworks of philosophy, literary, and queer studies. These are self-implicating projects in which their own canonicity becomes entwined with Genet’s, intervening in the work’s possibilities of movement and interpretation. Kathy Acker’s engagement with Genet breaks with these writers. She, likewise, engages canonical frameworks; however, her demonstrated criticality of those frameworks attempts to amplify the smuggling movement of Genet’s text. Tracing smuggling in , this article moves towards an expanded understanding of differing configurations of visibility, differing critical priorities, and differing utilities of movement over time and space.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): criticality; smuggling; trans
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