Drag is an art form with a rich legacy of challenging dominant norms and systems of oppression; building and sustaining queer community, and cultivating experiences of queer joy in a hostile world. Drag performers are often local celebrities who invite patrons into moments of queer worldmaking, opening spaces for pleasure in spectation, play, and experimentation. At a time when moral panics and violence against drag performers (in the forms of physical attacks, criminalization, and right-wing political discourse) have reached a fever pitch, we want to reflect on the ways that drag can anchor queer histories, politics, and activism. What does it mean to approach these expansive projects through the lens of drag performance?
This edited collection aims to intervene in critical conversations in drag studies from the perspective that drag can be a coalitional practice, promoting acts of resistance, and creating community through performance. We are interested in the idea of community as an actionable project organized by and centered on drag performance. While we are open to research about famous drag performers and their influence, we especially seek proposals that take seriously the local politics, aesthetics, and culture of drag, even as these are in conversation with mass and social media and situated in complex transnational contexts. We value and welcome critiques of drag celebrities contributing to the gentrification of local drag markets; work that interrogates the racial, gender, and class politics of drag venues; and other manifestations of power in drag scenes.
We aim to collaborate with scholars who want their work to circulate widely beyond academia and who might contribute to related programming on college campuses, gay bars, Pride events, and other community spaces. We wish to create a community-centered work of scholarship that offers a blueprint for drag resistance not only to scholars and students, but to performers, fans, and queer communities looking to meet this politically perilous moment with glitter, glamour, and grit.
Possible lines of inquiry across time periods and disciplines could include:
- What do attacks on drag performances and programs have to do with anti-trans legislation, anti-Blackness, and White nationalism?
- How have genderfuck performers and drag kings been impacted by shifts in the drag economy?
- How do drag performers maintain and manage celebrity on local, national, and global scales?
- How do drag performers navigate the ongoing criminalization of drag?
- What role does spectacle play in drag performance and in constructing a persona?
- How do queer kinships and drag families make queer histories and community infrastructures legible and accessible?
- What strategies do local performers employ to meet or challenge the expectations placed on them by popular culture?
- In what ways do drag performers function as community organizers and stage queer resistance?
We have strong interest from the editor of a successful series on celebrity from a respected university press. Abstracts of 300-500 words are due on March 1, 2023. If your paper is selected, full drafts will be due in March 2024. Please submit your abstract to co-editors Dr. Nino Testa and Catherine Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Drag Submission”
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