Joy Ladin

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Joy Ladin
Joy Ladin Author Headshot 2011.jpg
Born (1961-03-24) March 24, 1961 (age 57)
Rochester, NY
NationalityAmerican
EducationSarah Lawrence College (BA), University of Massachusetts Amherst (MFA), Princeton University (PhD)
GenrePoetry, Memoir, Criticism
Notable worksThrough the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders (2012)
Website
joyladin.wordpress.com

Joy Ladin (born March 24, 1961) is an American poet and the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University.[1] She is the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish institution.[2]

Early life, education, and identity[edit]

Ladin has described intuiting her girlhood at a young age, viewing her assigned male identity as "false" as a child.[3] At age eight, she began calling herself a "pacifist" in order to avoid combative play and athletics.[4]

She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2000, her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1995 and her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 1982.[1] In 2007, Ladin received tenure at Yeshiva University, and thereafter announced her gender transition. In response, she was placed on paid leave for 18 months. With the aid of lawyers from Lambda Legal, Ladin returned to work at Yeshiva University in 2008.[5]

Poetry[edit]

As of 2018, Ladin has published eight books of poetry. (Some of these works appear under her previous name.)

  • The Future is Trying to Tell Us Something. (Sheep Meadow Press, 2017.) [6]
  • Fireworks in the Graveyard. (Headmistress Press, 2017)[7]
  • Impersonation. (Sheep Meadow Press, 2015.)
  • The Definition of Joy. (Sheep Meadow Press, 2012.)
  • Coming To Life. (Sheep Meadow Press, 2010.)
  • Transmigrations. (Sheep Meadow Press, 2009.)
  • The Book of Anna. (Sheep Meadow Press, 2007.)
  • Alternatives to History. (Sheep Meadow Press, 2003.)

In 2013, Ladin published a series of poems formed entirely from words and phrases found in popular women's magazines. These poems, such as "Ready To Know," link both trans women and cis women's experiences of gender to the "commodity capitalist engine of the production of femininity." [8] This work emerged when Ladin gave herself a "writing assignment" to creatively engage with the "how-to" rhetoric of mainstream femininity. [9] In 2016, Ladin won a $25,000 creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.[10]

Memoir[edit]

In 2012, she published the memoir Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders.[13] In the book, she asserts that she is "old-fashioned – a garden-variety transsexual, rather than a post-modernist shape-shifter,” a claim which led critics to contrast her memoir with Kate Bornstein's. [11] Her memoir describes her family life, her transition, and her religious faith, including her perception that her "gender identity crisis had destroyed [her] marriage." In 2012, Through the Door of Life was a finalist in the "Biography, Autobiography, Memoir" category of the National Jewish Book Awards.[12]

Scholarship[edit]

Alongside her creative output, Ladin has frequently commented on the fields of trans literature and poetics. Ladin takes a non-identitarian stance, in that she does not believe that trans literature is necessarily being about trans experiences, or written by trans people.[13]

In her "Trans Poetics Manifesto," Ladin defines trans poetics as "techniques that enable poetic language to reflect the kind of complex, unstable, contradictory relations between body and soul, social self and psyche, that those who see ourselves as transgender experience as acute, definitive, life-changing."[14] Ladin has argued that poetry, and lyric forms in particular, might be the best mode through which to represent the transgender experience.[15]

In 2018, Ladin published her first full-length academic monograph, The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective (Brandeis University Press).[16] Her book offers trans readings of the Torah in order to argue that, despite traditional readings of Genesis and other biblical stories as enforcing a strict dichotomy between men and women, “God is not particularly invested in gender” or the gender binary per se.[17] Ladin's exegesis instead positions Jewish religious patriarchy as a function of social norms, not the sacred texts themselves. In a divergence from traditional scholarly reading methods, The Soul of Stranger includes autobiographical reflection as well as close readings.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Ladin has three children from her previous marriage to the writer Christine Benvenuto.[19] She is now remarried.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Faculty Directory: Joy Ladin". Yeshiva University. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Joy Ladin". poets.org. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  3. ^ Breger, Sarah (28 January 2015). "Joy Ladin on the Gendered Mitzvot". Forward. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  4. ^ Altmann, Jennifer (6 April 2016). "Becoming Joy". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Princeton University. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  5. ^ Ladin, Joy (Mar 15, 2012). Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
  6. ^ "Joy Ladin-- Author". Sheep Meadow Press. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Fireworks in the Attic". Headmistress Press.
  8. ^ Fink, Thomas. "A Proliferation of Differences: A Review of 'Troubling the Line'". Jacket2. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  9. ^ Ladin, Joy (6 July 2012). "Writing As A Woman". Her Kind. VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  10. ^ "National Endowment for the Arts FY16 Grants" (PDF). National Endowment for the Arts.
  11. ^ Michaelson, Jay. "'Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders' by Joy Ladin Review by Jay Michaelson". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  12. ^ "2012 National Jewish Book Award Winners". National Jewish Book Awards. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  13. ^ Ladin, Joy (December 6, 2011). "Ours for the Making: Trans Lit, Trans Poetics". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  14. ^ Joy Ladin (2013). "Trans Poetics Manifesto". In Tolbert, TC; Peterson, Trace. Troubling the Line. Nightboat Press. p. 306. ISBN 978-1-937658-10-6.
  15. ^ Ladin, Joy (December 6, 2011). "Ours for the Making: Trans Lit, Trans Poetics". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  16. ^ "The Soul of the Stranger Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective". University Press of New England. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  17. ^ Olidort, Shoshana. "Torah, From a Transgender Perspective". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  18. ^ "The Soul of the Stranger". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  19. ^ Traps, Yevgeniya. "Joy Ladin, the first trans professor at Yeshiva, discusses her transition, her travails, and her new memoir". Politico. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  20. ^ Altmann, Jennifer (6 April 2016). "Becoming Joy". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Princeton University. Retrieved 20 November 2018.