Event Title

The Subversiveness of Drag Performance

Location

FA160 - Recital Hall

Start Date

19-4-2019 9:00 AM

Department

Communication, Media, and Theatre

Description

Even though the performance of drag has a long history in various cultures around the world, academic studies on drag performance are relatively new as a majority of the literature comes from the past 20 years. This presentation is a review of that literature. Drag crosses genders, types, and purposes from the early shamans, Greek theatre, and the Stonewall Riots to bars and RuPaul’s Drag Race today. The drag queens in the literature are part of a generation of drag that “parodied or exaggerated glamour, and created personae which were caricatures rather than replications of pre-existing female types…never asked to be taken as women. Most of them never appeared in drag except in a performance situation” (Senelick 434). These performances of men dressing in female attire or appearing in gender bending forms are the subject of study, raising questions on whether they are subversive or not. In other words, is the performance of drag seeking or intending to subvert the established hegemonic norms of gender roles and sexuality? Drawing on the foundations of Judith Butler and Judith “Jack” Halberstam’s work in gender and sexuality, the researchers argue opposing views on the subversiveness of drag performance. I use the work of Butler and Halberstam as a framework to review the literature on drag performance. According to Butler, subversion happens because of perceptions of the “reality” of gender (a man is a man because of the clothes he wears, a woman is a woman because of the clothes she wears, etc. and we have a hierarchy that dictates those meanings and dominance). Halberstam’s way of thinking similarly allows for the performance of drag within gender studies to be subversive. The work of Butler and Halberstam continues to be a reference for later scholars who debate whether or not drag is subversive. This presentation will briefly look at the work of Butler and Halberstam in order to establish the framework of the literature review. The presentation continues by reviewing studies that argue the subversiveness of drag performance, bringing together divergent interpretations for a holistic review. Through a summary and critique of the literature and my personal drag performance experiences, I will present gaps in the studies where future research can intervene in the conversation.

Comments

Shayne Pepper is the faculty sponsor of this project.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 19th, 9:00 AM

The Subversiveness of Drag Performance

FA160 - Recital Hall

Even though the performance of drag has a long history in various cultures around the world, academic studies on drag performance are relatively new as a majority of the literature comes from the past 20 years. This presentation is a review of that literature. Drag crosses genders, types, and purposes from the early shamans, Greek theatre, and the Stonewall Riots to bars and RuPaul’s Drag Race today. The drag queens in the literature are part of a generation of drag that “parodied or exaggerated glamour, and created personae which were caricatures rather than replications of pre-existing female types…never asked to be taken as women. Most of them never appeared in drag except in a performance situation” (Senelick 434). These performances of men dressing in female attire or appearing in gender bending forms are the subject of study, raising questions on whether they are subversive or not. In other words, is the performance of drag seeking or intending to subvert the established hegemonic norms of gender roles and sexuality? Drawing on the foundations of Judith Butler and Judith “Jack” Halberstam’s work in gender and sexuality, the researchers argue opposing views on the subversiveness of drag performance. I use the work of Butler and Halberstam as a framework to review the literature on drag performance. According to Butler, subversion happens because of perceptions of the “reality” of gender (a man is a man because of the clothes he wears, a woman is a woman because of the clothes she wears, etc. and we have a hierarchy that dictates those meanings and dominance). Halberstam’s way of thinking similarly allows for the performance of drag within gender studies to be subversive. The work of Butler and Halberstam continues to be a reference for later scholars who debate whether or not drag is subversive. This presentation will briefly look at the work of Butler and Halberstam in order to establish the framework of the literature review. The presentation continues by reviewing studies that argue the subversiveness of drag performance, bringing together divergent interpretations for a holistic review. Through a summary and critique of the literature and my personal drag performance experiences, I will present gaps in the studies where future research can intervene in the conversation.