In Queer and Gender Studies as well as in everyday life, the uses of drag are manifold. Consequently, it may be an unnecessarily limiting perspective to view gender performativity solely as a deconstructivist tool in a struggle against the regulatory regime of heteronormativity. In fact, even though it undoubtedly marks such a tool, and by all means a powerful one, some more uplifting and reparative purposes of drag tend at times to be overlooked, as they may manifest themselves on a personal rather than a political scale. Exploring the full scale of drag acts, this seminar will take a look at literary and cinematic representations of drag from the late 1960s, the historical moment that witnesses the decriminalisation of homosexuality through the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, up until today.
In order to trace this historical development, the structure of the seminar will include a subdivision into two parts. In the first part, we will discuss four selected texts from different decades, namely: Quentin Crisp's autobiography The Naked Civil Servant (1968), Joe Orton's play What the Butler Saw (1969), Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy (1982), and finally, Stephan Elliott's film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). In the second part, you may choose the primary material of the seminar from a number of selected contemporary texts – e.g. Jackie Kay Trumpet (1998), Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet (1998), Patrick McCabe's Breakfast on Pluto (1998), Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine (1998), Kimberly Peirce's Boys Don't Cry (1999), Stephen Daldry's Billy Eliot (2000), John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), Mark Ravenhill's Mother Clap's Molly House (2001), Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex (2002), Doug Wright's I am My Own Wife (2003), Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues (2003), Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto (2005), Duncan Tucker's Transamerica (2005), John Waters' vs. Adam Shankman's Hairspray (1988/2007), Amazon's Transparent (2014 - ), Ali Smith's How to Be Both (2014), Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl (2015), Sebastian Barry's Days Without End (2016), Jeanette Winterson's Frankissstein (2019), etc. – and thus, carry your own research interests into the seminar. Note bene: This format requires that you are prepared to sign up for a (group) presentation of your chosen material.
Please read/ watch the following texts:
Quentin Crisp. The Naked Civil Servant. London: Penguin, 1997.
Joe Orton. What the Butler Saw. London: A & C Black, 1969.
Harvey Fierstein. Torch Song Trilogy. New York: Ballantine, 2018.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Dir. Stephan Elliott. Perf. Hugo Weaving, Terence Stamp, and Guy Pierce. MGM Home Entertainment, 2009.