T.L. Cowan

Black & white image of T.L. Cowan. Image shows a white femme wearing dark, thick-rimmed eyeglasses, brown curly hair pulled back into a lose bun; she sports dramatic dark red lipstick. She is wearing a black blazer. The background of the image is the bottom corner of a framed print by Andréa Zarwiny. T.L.'s reflection is mirrored in the glass of the picture.

T.L. Cowan selfie.

T.L. Cowan (she/they) is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Arts Culture and Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, as well as a cabaret and video artist. Her creative-research practice moves between page, stage, and screen.


T.L.’s research focuses on cultural and intellectual economies and networks of minoritized digital media and performance practices. Notable commissions for their creative-critical work include the PlugIn Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg, Queens Museum in New York City, and Nuit Blanche in Toronto. She is currently completing two monographs, Transmedial Drag and Other Cross-Platform Cabaret Methods, and The Needs of Others: Trauma, Media & Disorder.

Their most recent essays are published in Moving Archives (2020), The Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities & Art History (2020), American Quarterly (2020) First Monday (2018), Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies (2016), More Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women (2016, edited by Johanna Householder and Tanya Mars) and as part of Alexandra Juhasz’s #100 Hard Truths.

T.L. frequently collaborates with Jasmine Rault. Together, they hold a SSHRC Insight Grant (2019-2024), entitled “Networked Intimate Publics: Feminist and Queer Practices of Scale, Safety and Access,” and a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2017-2020), entitled “Building a Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory for Minor(itized) Materials.” In addition to the Cabaret Commons, Cowan and Rault co-director another online research site: the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory (DREC). They are also co-editors of a “Metaphors as Meaning and Method in Technoculture,” a special section of Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience (Fall 2022) and a book entitled Heavy Processing, about trans- feminist and queer digital research methods and ethics. You can see early versions of Heavy Processing on the DREC.

T.L. is also a co-director of the Critical Digital Methods Institute (CDMI) at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Two home-made buttons — white with black letters. One reads Heavy Processing; the other reads More Than a Feeling. Background is a yellow wooden coffee table with a coffee stain.

“Heavy Processing & More Than a Feeling” button and image by T.L. Cowan. Visual description: two home-made buttons — white with black letters. One reads Heavy Processing; the other reads More Than a Feeling


T.L.'s ongoing performance and video cycles include The Twisted She Project—an intermedial collaborative collage about perversion, popularity and pathology; the GLITTERfesto: An Open Call For A Revolutionary Movement Of Activist Performance Based On The Premise That Social Justice is Fabulous; and Forgiving Medjugorje—a meditation on sex, religion, reconciliation and money. Her 2013 video and performance “I Disown You Right Back,” starring her alter-ego, Mrs. Trixie Cane, has thrilled audiences internationally. T.L. also appears on stages, screens and the streets as Aging Supermodel Experimental Poet and Revolutionary, Tammy Pamalovovich. Since getting her start in Vancouver’s raging spoken word scene in the 1990s, T.L.’s work has been featured at MIX NYC , the Opentoe Peepshow, Belladonna*, Sister Spit’s Spoken Word Circus, Montreal’s Edgy Women Festival, Edmonton’s Visualeyez Festival of Performance & Time-Based Art, Loud & Queer, Next Fest, Performance Studies International, Toronto’s Festival of Original Theatre, and the Glastonbury Festival of Music & Contemporary Art.

For more about T.L.'s art practice, see tlcowan.net