CFP: QUEER NIGHTLIFE
TDR: A Journal of Performance Studies
Deadline: 
Thursday, August 1, 2024

For a special issue of TDR: The Drama Review, a journal of performance studies, guest editor madison moore and consortium editor Rebecca Schneider seek submissions that engage the “knowing how” of queer nightlife. “Knowing” here finds kinship with feeling, glitter on the floor, skin on skin, tactility, sweat, diffraction, dissolution.

We are interested in the many elemental gestures, performances, forms of labor, mess, doing/undoing, imagination, making/unmaking as well as the failures, exhaustions, and obstacles that power or foreclose the rhythms of community, pleasure, and ecstasy at night. We are interested in clubs but also in other modes for queer nightlife.

Nightlife can never be fully contained. How can the ways we bring it into language disorient standardized forms of knowledge production? Over the past decade there has been a growing, transdisciplinary body of scholarship, artistic practice and cultural production centered on the urgency of queer nightlife. We note that this recent “turn” or focus on queer nightlife does not indicate a new “field” of study to be brought into or rendered legible by the university or the gallery but is rather a genre and form of its own that wrestles with the contingencies, messiness, and pleasures of queer community and every night life. To put this queer nightlife “turn” into perspective, much contemporary queer art and performance has centered or taken place in bars, clubs and cabarets, from Felix Gonzalez-Torres 1991 Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform) to the unruly performance art experiments at Mustache Mondays in Downtown Los Angeles in 2018.

Work that engages queer nightlife is often autobiographical, experimental, and refuses 'distance' as the only measure of engagement or means to rigorous critique.

Building on this refusal of distance, we seek to emphasize an approach to queer nightlife that centers practice as a way of thinking, taking inspiration from Dwight Conquergood who reminds us that:

"The dominant way of knowing in the academy is that of empirical observation and critical analysis from a distanced perspective: “knowing that,” and “knowing about.” This is a view from above the object of inquiry: knowledge that is anchored in paradigm and secured in print. This propositional knowledge is shadowed by another way of knowing that is grounded in active, intimate, hands-on participation and personal connection: “knowing how,” and “knowing who.” This is a view from ground level, in the thick of things. This is knowledge that is anchored in practice and circulated within a performance community, but is ephemeral (Conquergood, Performance Studies: Interventions and Radical Research, 146; 2002)."

Because nightlife is such an intimate, embodied, felt, sensed, heard, olfactory, and collaborative experience, we are particularly interested in how nightlife practices, generated “from the ground level, in the thick of things”become modes of thought. How can the feltness of queer nightlife shape new ways of understanding the dynamics and poetics of gathering?

As Kemi Adeyemi, Kareem Khubchandani, and Ramon Rivera-Servera show in their Queer Nightlife anthology, nightlife is already its own method (10). Queer nightlife can be difficult to engage academically because its practices resist documentation, surveillance, and associated extractable “evidence” that might complicate pleasure and fun. As a method, nightlife's resistance to documentation amplifies the significance of hearsay, gossip, fragments, opacity, debris, trash, speculation, partial impressions, and other ephemera as the sticky ongoingness of queer nightlife.

This special issue is interested both in “how” queer nightlife is a mode of research and in "how" the elements of queer nightlife practices actually come together – the lights, the performances, the drag, the dancing, the DJ sets, the karaoke, the venues, the sound systems, and the disco balls, as well as the many forms of labor, doing, and mess that both frame these practices and render total framing impossible.

With this call for papers, we seek submissions that emphasize the doing / practice / thinking / knowing how of queer nightlife. We are particularly interested in contributions that highlight the necessity of thinking theory and practice together. What can we listen for, touch upon, and possibly if not completely understand about world un/making, labor, space, precarity, performance, pleasure, embodiment, technique, gesture, improvisation, self-making or building and maintaining community by developing a practice in queer nightlife as method?

For further information, please contact:

madison moore, madison.moore@brown.edu
Rebecca Schneider, rebecca.schneider@brown.edu

Please send proposals (maximum 300 words) for articles by August 1, 2024, to: doingqueernightlife@gmail.com

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