Networked Intimate Publics: Trans-Feminist & Queer Digital Methods in and Beyond the University – Plenary Address

Abstract: What kinds of small-world-facing methods do we need to make big-world-facing (whole wide world/world wide web) projects? In this presentation we discuss the ways that we have developed relationship-based processes and protocols for trans- feminist and queer artists, audiences, activists and researchers, in our digital research environment, the Cabaret Commons. In particular, we will discuss the early work of the Cabaret Commons Critical Project (CCCP) and decade-long process to build the Cabaret Commons Exhibition Place (CCXP), and our cross-sector digital methods.

T.L. CowanBio: T.L. Cowan (she/they) is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Arts Culture and Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, as well as a cabaret and video artist. Her creative-research practice moves between page, stage, and screen, including the work of her alter-ego, Mrs. Trixie Cane and the I Disown You Right Back campaign.

Cowan’s research focuses on cultural and intellectual economies and networks of minoritized digital media and performance practices. Notable commissions for their creative-critical work include the PlugIn Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg, Queens Museum in New York City, and Nuit Blanche in Toronto. She is currently completing two monographs, Transmedial Drag and Other Cross-Platform Cabaret Methods, and The Needs of Others: Trauma, Media & Disorder. In 2022-23 Cowan will be a faculty fellow of the Queer & Trans Research Lab (QTRL) in Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto, initiating a new research project, “Assisted Living in the Life of the Mind: Building Trans- Feminist & Queer Mental Health and Accessibility Networks in the University.”

Cowan’s most recent essays are published in Moving Archives (2020), The Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities & Art History (2020), American Quarterly (2020) First Monday (2018), Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies (2016), More Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women (2016, edited by Johanna Householder and Tanya Mars) and as part of Alexandra Juhasz’s #100 Hard Truths.

Cowan is also a co-director of the Critical Digital Methods Institute and a co-author of the Feminist Data Manifest-No.

Jas RaultBio: Jas Rault (they/them) is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Arts, Culture, Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Jas’s research focuses on trans- feminist and queer digital praxes and protocols; media histories of settler coloniality, white supremacy and sexuality; aesthetics and affects of social movements. Recent publications include “Window Walls and Other Tricks of Transparency: Digital, Colonial and Architectural Modernity” (American Quarterly); “White Noise, White Affects: Filtering the Sameness of Queer Suffering (Feminist Media Studies); “Ridiculizing Power: Relajo and the Affects of Queer Activism in Mexico” (Scholar & Feminist Online). Rault’s first book is Eileen Gray and the Design of Sapphic Modernity: Staying In (Ashgate/Routledge) and they’re currently working on a book, provisionally entitled Open Secrets: Technologies of Whiteness in Decline, about the ambient media of white cruelty — the sound, architecture and interface designs that try so hard to make the violences of settler colonial whiteness feel like comfort, justice and good taste.

Rault is also a co-director of the Critical Digital Methods Institute and a co-author of the Feminist Data Manifest-No.

About the Conference

Feminist Digital Methods Conference

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many feminist scholars have turned to digital methods out of necessity. Others have been using digital methods long before the pandemic. There is a gap between increased demand for digital acuity and decreased ability to gather, troubleshoot, or discuss ideas and projects. Our intention is to fill some of that gap.

Our primary aim is to foster communities of practice around feminist digital methods by creating intentional space for dialogues, knowledge sharing, workshops, showcases, and presentations. We also aim to engage topics of feminist ethics, digital tools and infrastructure, feminist digital pedagogies, knowledge production & mobilization, social media, and online work, performance, and presence. The conference will centre early career scholars, though all feminist digital methods practitioners and learners are welcome.

The 3-day conference will hold workshops, project showcases, paper presentations, a plenary address, and a keynote.

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Critical Digital Methods Institute (CDMI), a collaborative research project of The Department of Arts, Culture and Media (ACM) at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC).