Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Salmacis' alchemical pool: Gender diversity and the transformation of culture
by Keller, Marie Margaret, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014, 306; 3621743
Abstract (Summary)

Aspects of modernity in Western culture that act to limit conceptions of diversity, such as binary, hierarchical oppositions and the privileging of discursive, analytic knowledge over intuitive and receptive ways of knowing, have played a significant role in both the denigration and erasure of people who have transgender and gender nonconforming identities and experiences. As these elements of modernity are subjected to scrutiny by transgender and cisgender peoples, new knowledge is produced that allows for an increase in transgender visibility. This visibility then works back upon culture to further erode the constraining effects of modernity in the culture at large. Four myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses are discussed to illustrate gender diversity and this spiraling process.

Ovid's powerful and timely myths help to capture the present moment when the lives and voices of transgender and gender nonconforming peoples are destabilizing old stories and creating new gender myths, new lenses through which to view and understand gender. "Salmacis and Hermaphroditus" is a vehicle for reflecting on modernity, its limitations, and the gender transformation currently taking place in culture. "Iphis and Ianthe" offers an opportunity to consider issues of embodiment and the importance of family and community support for people who are gender diverse. "Caenis/Caenus" is the brave warrior without and within. He faces the challenging confrontations with the cultural status quo and the deep intrapsychic movement that gender diversity can initiate. Finally, "Tiresias" ushers in a meditation on ways of knowing, healing, and the privileged positions gender diverse peoples have held in cultures with more inclusive gender systems.

The production portion of this dissertation was a public dialogue event for transgender and gender diverse community members and allies in Los Angeles entitled TranSolidarity World Café. Through an organic process of emergence and with the help of public dialogue experts and many volunteers, a gathering for 160 people was hosted. A record of the event was captured in the drawings and graphic recordings of those who participated.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Downing, Christine
Commitee: Fraser, Lin, Pye, Lori
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: GLBT Studies, Clinical psychology, Gender studies
Keywords: Gender, Mythology, Ovid, Public dialogue, Transgender
Publication Number: 3621743
ISBN: 978-1-303-93040-9
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