Christian Gundermann understands theory as a daily practice like breathing and eating. He teaches students in different contexts as diverse as the interpretation of films, the history of the queer movement, the questioning of the human/animal boundary, the historical study of horsemanship, the practice of body modifications, the connections between feminism and the sciences, the nexuses of power, knowledge, pleasure, and suffering etc. that there is no practice without theory, and that every theory is always already a practice.
Just like we cannot observe anything without a particular standpoint (which makes all our knowledge concrete and situated), we cannot comprehend anything without a theory, whether we acknowledge it or not. He believes that much of our political and ethical being in the world is reflected in our willingness to make our theories explicit and open for debate. All his teaching is discussion based and student driven as he believes in students' motivation to build their knowledge outward from kernels of original passions and attachments.
Christian was trained in literary scholarship, postcolonial, feminist, and queer theories, as well as film studies at Cornell and then at Rutgers Universities, He was first hired at Mount Holyoke College as a Spanish professor, but his affiliation with Gender Studies eventually drew him full time into that department. In 2007, he published a book titled Actos melancólicos (Melancholic Acts) on the history and uses of memory as resistance against neoliberalism in the Argentine post-dictatorship period. He then published a number of articles on Latin American film, particularly the new Argentine cinema with its melancholic forms of resistance to neoliberal speed and efficiency.
He is currently working on a book project on the embodiment of interspecies entanglements. His horses are helping him conceptualize and articulate a number of biomedical issues at the boundaries of human and equine existence, such as metabolic and autoimmune conditions that throw into relief our unexplored entanglements with microorganisms; the conundrum of death, dying and euthanasia in relation to lost nature-cultures of predation; and castration and the realities and fetishism around hormones in identity formation.
Christian currently teaches many of the core courses of the Gender Studies curriculum (such as Introduction to Gender Studies and Introduction to Feminist and Queer Theory, as well as Senior Seminar). In these courses, he regularly integrates some short segments that introduce students to the idea that species belonging is as much part of our intersectional study of identity and human subjectivity as is race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, ability, and class.
Over the last two years, he developed two specialized courses:
- Gender and Species: a course that explores in depth the intersectionality of gender and sexual identities and species belonging. We critically examine animal rights and the similarities and differences in subject formation between humans and other animals;
- Embodiments: a course that takes off from a Foucault-inspired analysis of power, knowledge, discipline, subject formation and de-subjectivization, and resistance, and explores those concept in the context of disabilities; chronic illnesses; infections; the natural food movement; the natural burial and death-midwifery movement; mental illness, specifically depression; interspecies entanglements in dairy and at the level of microbial interactions in fermentation, autoimmune therapy, and decomposition; as well as, hormone replacement in the transgender experience.