Judy Garland singing Somewhere over the Rainbow in shiny red slippers, the look of Doris Day, a cheesy song by Liza Minnelli, the impersonations of Dame Edna, ABBA, the architecture of Gaudi, feather boas, the aphorisms of Oscar Wilde and Quentin Crisp, a Eurovision song performed with maximum verve, Julie Andrews yodelling on a mountaintop, psychedelic sci-fi flicks from the 1960s, the Austin Powers movies, a Tiffany lamp, glam rock, Batman and Robin, Bette Davis, Bette Midler, the arias of Florence Foster-Jenkins, rococo, Kiss, Ernie & Bert, water ballet revues, the Last Night of the Proms, Huit Femmes, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hairspray and perhaps flamingos … If these things make you laugh for no particular reason, this may well be the right class for you. According to the late Susan Sontag then, camp is "a certain mode of aestheticism. It is one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon." Seeing the world through camp lenses has its advantages, for camp, the notorious 'gay sensibility', also signifies a powerful deconstructivist practice. As such, its favourite tasks are to ridicule failed seriousness, to unmask false glamour, and to expose the unmarked and invisible workings that underlie a (hetero-)normative culture. However, there is another side to camp, for camp also loves the things it mocks and ridicules, loves it, that is, when it can assemble and confer "beauty" on a world that has lost its charms. Hence, camp needs to be regarded as a fundamentally ambivalent sensibility: political in the sense that its paranoid/deconstructivist practices aim at demystification and exposure, and thera-peutic in the sense that its aesthetic/reparative practices strive for comfort, uplift, and healing. This seminar tries to explore the workings of camp, analysing its distribution, its subterfuge, and its parodic reinscriptions.
Crisp, Quentin. The Naked Civil Servant. New York and London: HarperCollins, 2007. Print. [or any other edition]
Calamity Jane. Dir. David Butler. Perf. Doris Day and Howard Keel. 1953. Warner Home Video, 2003. DVD.
Orton, Joe. What the Butler Saw. London et al.: Bloomsbury, 1969. Print. [or any other edition]
The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Dir. Jim Sharman. Perf. Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick. 1975. Twentieth Century Fox, 2013. DVD.
Velvet Goldmine. Dir. Todd Haynes. Dir. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ewan McGregor, Christian Bale, Toni Collette. 1998. Miramax, 2000.