T Clutch Fleischmann
- MFA, Nonfiction Writing, University of Iowa
- BFA, Writing, Grand Valley State University
T Clutch Fleischmann is the author of Syzygy, Beauty (Sarabande) and the curator of Body Forms: Queerness and the Essay (Essay Press). Their work has been anthologized in the collections Bending Genre (Continuum Press) and How We Speak to One Another (Coffee House Press), and in publications such as The Indiana Review, Fourth Genre, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Kenyon Review Online. A Nonfiction Editor at DIAGRAM and Contributing Editor at EssayDaily, they currently live in Chicago.
Areas of Scholarship
Visual art, transgender embodiment, loss, longing, desire and sex, the personal narrative, concepts of the "self," landscape, and movement.
"Looking for Samuel Delany," How We Speak to One Another (Coffee House Press)
"A Ninja Turtle Theory of a Trans Essay," EssayDaily
"House with Door," Fanzine
Celebrating the Essay’s Activist Roots
While we could easily argue that any act of writing or art-making has a political component inherent to it, the literary essay has forged a unique link to activist thought from its earliest days. Montaigne spoke against the colonization of America and the genocide of indigenous people, many of James Baldwin’s most well-known essays are reckonings with white supremacy in the United States, and Joan Didion is as powerful and often a shrewd political critic as she is a cultural or literary critic. Despite this, however, study of the essay almost always focuses on questions of de-politicized craft, leaving the political and activist lineage of our genre unacknowledged.
In this seminar, we’ll celebrate and explore the activist legacy of the essay, attempting to break down the distinction between activist writing (which is often treated as non- or sub-literary) and literary writing (in which activist modalities are often viewed as insignificant or even detrimental to creative goals). We’ll use Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s critical essay “f Words: An Essay on the Essay” as a launching point to consider our genre more broadly. From there, we’ll move through a packet of short readings (distributed in the seminar) to survey the many successes of activist essayists, including those written by personal essayists, memoirists, nature writers, lyric essayists, and related subgenres. If the personal is political, can we say the personal essay is, too?
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, “f Words: An Essay on the Essay”
Pre-seminar writing: Draft one or two pages about the ways that your own writing does or does not enact activist modalities and work toward activist goals.
I'm currently working on a manuscript that merges two different projects, a book-length essay in verse on the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres and a personal essay in prose on embodiment and desire. At the same time, I'm slowly completing a cross-media installation art project titled "Talka, Talka, Talka," a collaboration with a visual artist that draws on our experience in varied disciplines. I always accompany my creative work with more critical work, including a series I currently run on EssayDaily in which I interview trans writers and artists on their relation to genre and form.