Best First Book Award given to Shimmering Images at SCMS 2020

This March 2020 at the annual international conference of the “Society for Cinema and Media Studies” I was honored with the award for Best First Book. I’m over the moon to be selected as the winning author of a first book for Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, Embodiment and the Aesthetics of Change (Duke UP 2019). May the promiscuity of the concept shimmer on in the writings of others! I am so grateful to my press and editor, Courtney Berger, for believing in this project and for submitting this effort for the jury’s consideration. This was a high water year with the most submissions to date: 57! And they compared shimmering images to Williams’ concept of “body genres” and Gunning’s “cinema of attractions”–OMG.

The jury’s citation for the award reads as follows:

“Eliza Steinbock’s Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, AuthorPhotoBridgeJacketEmbodiment, and the Aesthetics of Change found its way to the top of the 57 books that were submitted this year for consideration for SCMS’s Best First Book Award. Steinbock’s theoretically groundbreaking book is an important and timely contribution to the field of cinema and media studies. It establishes new vocabulary to describe in-between states of gender, sexuality, and affect in visual media. Steinbock opens up exciting lines of thinking, provocatively revealing how fundamentally compatible cinematic technology and transsexual embodiment are at their cores, through their process-oriented abilities to delink, relink, and fascinate. As they note in the book’s impressive first chapter, “it is small wonder that … narratives about sexual intermediacy find their outlet … in the cinematic effects of double exposure, substitution, and transformation” (34).  

Integrating theoretical insights by scholars of film, media, sexuality, trans, and queer studies, the book develops a compelling framework attuned to affective and epistemological complexities of the visual beyond representation. The book’s intellectual prowess expands as it proceeds. 

The author’s engaging conceptual apparatus comes to life when applied to specific examples from key moments throughout the long cinematic century, from George Melies’s trick films and Lili Elbi’s photomontage in Man into Woman, to more popular films like West Side Story and The Danish Girl, to pornography and experimental works such as Shu Lea Cheang’s I.K.U. The analyses are consistently insightful, and the sentence-level writing is artful and lucid. 
At the same time, echoing the concepts of change and process that pulse through Steinbock’s book thematically, a virtue of Steinbock’s generous scholarship is that it is an open system, one which other scholars of sexuality and the moving image could mobilize in new directions and contexts. The term shimmering is ripe with potential for the field, which the committee believes possesses the high-concept, smoking-gun value of oft-cited theory (Linda Williams’ body genres or Tom Gunning’s cinema of attractions, for example). Steinbock’s book offers a powerful corrective to established ideas in feminist film theory, while inviting readers to see, experience, and revisit the moving image, the heart of cinema and media studies, in new, refreshing, and politically relevant ways.” 

Although I could not be present at the award ceremony and the entire conference had to be cancelled due to the COVID-crisis, my acceptance slide would have read: TRANS LIVES MATTER, TRANS MEDIA MATTERS.

Soon I will post the short interview I did on being an award-winner with Christine Becker, co-host of the ACA-Media podcast–“offering an academic perspective on media, from SCMS and JCMS”–recorded on April 17, 2020. TIP: They have great materials I can highly recommend for you and your classes.

Lastly, thank you, my SCMS community!

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