Dr. Gabrielle M.W. Bychowski

Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Fellow
at Case Western Reserve University
teaching seminars on diversity, ethics, and social justice
with a Ph.D in English Language and Literature
concentrating on Transgender and Disability Studies
 with specializations in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

M.W. Bychowski is an Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Fellow teaching courses on transgender and intersex history, disability culture, racism, and medieval literature. In previous years, she has guided students to Prague to attend the Mezipatra Queer Film Festival as part of a course on LGBT film. She was raised in Chicago, where she received her B.A. in English and History at DePaul University, before moving on to complete a Masters and Ph.D in English Literature in Washington D.C.at the George Washington University. A few of her recent and upcoming articles include, "Unconfessing Transgender: Dysphoric Youths and the Medicalization of Madness in John Gower’s “Tale of Iphis and Ianthe” (Accessus 2016), "The Necropolitics of Narcissus: Confessions of Transgender Suicide in the Middle Ages" (the Medieval Feminist Forum 2017), “The Island of Hermaphrodites: Disorienting the Place of Intersex in Pilgrimage Narratives” (Postmedieval 2018), alongside contributions to The Medieval Disability Ashgate Research Companion, Chaucerian Skin Matters, and the Companion to Medieval Sexuality. In addition to her other writing, she engages actively in the Digital Humanities, maintaining a website on transgender and disability culture, www.ThingsTransform.com, through which she offers, "Transform Talks," workshops and training for businesses, schools, and faith communities on issue of gender and disability. Such work has brought her to work with the White House twice in 2016 as part of the "LGBTQ Champions of Change" and "the Forum on LGBT and Disability Issues." Additionally, for five years she founded and ran Match: A Critical Theory Reading Group, and she is currently an executive board member for the UCC Mental Health Network. She has a partner and two daughters of whom she is immensely proud.

Recent seminars taught include: 

The Long History of White Supremacy (Fall 2017), Race and Disability (Spring 2018 and Spring 2019), Women of the Civil Rights Movement (Fall 2018), Women and Mental Illness (Fall 2018), Intersectional Feminisms (Fall 2018 and Fall 2019), Beyond and Male (Fall 2017), How [Not] to Argue on the Internet (Spring 2018), Queer Christianity (Spring 2018 and Spring 2019), Transgender and Social Justice (Spring 2016), Transgender Literature (Fall 2019).

My Digital Dissertation
Trans Literature: Transgender Histories
 and Genres of Embodiment, Medieval & Post-Medieval

For Academics

M.W. Bychowski's dissertation, Trans Literature: Transgender Histories and Genres of Embodiment, Medieval & Post-Medieval, explores the disabling repercussions of an inconstant body, particularly those undergoing gender transition, that produce demands for and on narratives of change in order to make these events socially legible. This study distinguishes itself by (1) developing new trans narrative theories for approaching literature, (2) expanding the history of trans persons into the medieval period, (3) and situating trans bodies in terms of pre- and post-modern disability studies through the concepts of inconstancy, change, and access to technology. The trans-historical aspect of this project is in line with its argument that narratives of change are invested in the relation of the past to the present. The politics of history come to affect how stories of gender transition are told.

For the purpose of this study, “Trans” in one sense signals the use of “trans-“ words to describe certain persons (e.g. transvestite, transsexual, transgender) or by common trans pseudonyms (e.g. queer, cross-dresser). “Trans” also signals bodies that have gone through or go through the experience of transforming gender, akin to contemporary stories of transgender, but are described in historicized terms (e.g. eunuch, hermaphrodite, shape-shifter). The work of these texts will be to demonstrate the competition of ways that these “Trans” bodies and literature are discussed. This intersection with Trans Studies is oriented around the transforming body, described in historicized terms (e.g. inconstant, denatured, deformed, unnatural) as well as the body that contains multiplicities, (diverse, varied, monstrous).

Such a study provides a sense of the direction that the critical conversation has moved in the past twenty years from a concern in crossing gender boundaries (e.g. feminism in the mid 1990s), into a move to deconstruct gender (e.g. queer theory in the late 90s and early 2000s), at which point the conversation shifted into a greater concern over how social constructions of gender and sexuality intertwine. In this way, the list prepares an intervention in the historiography and how medieval trans literary studies may continue and redirect this trajectory. Another critical point of intersection comes in the politics of access to technologies that shape identity, such as clothing, surgery, drugs, books, and relics. As these tools come under the control of certain bodies and not others (men more than women, the wealthy more than the poor, etc.), a disparity develops over who can claim the process of bodily stability and change. In this way the trans woman seeking a gown in the 14th century and the trans man seeking hormones in the 20th century share a common political positions that becomes reflected in narratives about their lives. Due to this affirmation of the active power of objects to construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct humanity, trans medieval gender and disability studies holds critical potential in the developing field of post-humanism and trans-humanism.

Texts concerned are selected for their engagement with inconstant bodies and the transformation of gender. They represent major texts and authors in the late medieval archive of English literature, as well as contemporary French romances set in Britain. This transnational and multi-lingual composite of literature represents a shared repository of concepts, words, and stories that have been inherited by contemporary English transgender and disability culture. The period of the texts stretching roughly from the late 13th to the early 15th century, a moment of great change in England: plague, both foreign and civil wars, economic revolution, and shifts in linguistic and national identity.


For Social Media

Follow M.W. Bychowski via 
Facebook (personal: ThingsTransform, blog Transliterature
Twitter (personal: Transliterature, blog: ThingsTransform).


For Organizations and Businesses

To plan a public appearance or business consultation please contact M.W. Bychowski through e-mail (MBychows@GWU.edu) or through the George Washington University English Department.

Transform Talks: 
Workshops for communities on gender & disability

In recent years, I've consulted for acting troupes, businesses, churches, and educators on how to build more accessible, welcoming, and critical spaces for a wider diversity of persons. I have collected and expanded this material into workshops on gender, sexuality, and disability. The new program is geared to a variety of communities and workplaces. These, "Transform Talks" are available on different levels to suit a host of particular needs. Short, 1-2 hour bootcamps will help orient staff, faculty, and minsters on (1) key language, (2) best practices, and (3) context and background in targeted communities. Longer day to weekend long seminars will also be available for participants to become better trained in diversity, including (1) getting to know important stories and histories, (2) workshopping situations, and (3) transforming social and physical spaces to be safe and fruitful for a wider range of lives.

Prices vary depending on needs and duration. 
Contact mbychows@gwu.edu for more information.



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