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Presenter Information

Kevan Gardner

Location

SURC Room 271

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

gender identity drag

Abstract

In the last half century, there has been a fair amount of research on drag queens, although most of it has focused on analyzing the performance itself and/or the effects it has on the audience and even the greater community. Less research has been done on the motivation of the performers in choosing drag as a medium. Since the 1970s there has been speculation that men choosing to perform in feminine drag do so out of resentment or hatred of the female sex. I contend that many drag queens may perform in drag because their gender identities fall somewhere between male and female and that drag offers an acceptable and rewarding opportunity to express said identities. Inspired by Judith Butler’s comments on gender identity in Gender Trouble (1990), I examined existing research on drag performance for indications of individual performers’ motivations for performing in drag. I combed through research starting with Esther Newton’s 1972 seminal work on drag queens, Mother Camp, culminating with the work of more recent researchers such as Steven Schacht and Verta Taylor and Leila Rupp. What I discovered challenges the notions that drag queens are motivated by misogyny and indicates there is much exploratory research to be undertaken if we are to truly understand the motivation to perform in drag. Given the increased attention given to gender studies in the social sciences, such research would undoubtedly inform us regarding the many facets of gender identity. (Editor’s Note: This presentation may contain adult themes, content, or imagery.)

For this presentation, Kevan Gardner received a College of the Sciences Best Oral Presentation Award for 2014.

Faculty Mentor(s)

McMullin-Messier, Pamela; Coe, Cynthia

Additional Mentoring Department

Sociology

Additional Mentoring Department

Women's and Gender Studies

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May 15th, 3:20 PM May 15th, 3:40 PM

Beyond Camp: The Effect of Gender Identity on Drag Performance

SURC Room 271

In the last half century, there has been a fair amount of research on drag queens, although most of it has focused on analyzing the performance itself and/or the effects it has on the audience and even the greater community. Less research has been done on the motivation of the performers in choosing drag as a medium. Since the 1970s there has been speculation that men choosing to perform in feminine drag do so out of resentment or hatred of the female sex. I contend that many drag queens may perform in drag because their gender identities fall somewhere between male and female and that drag offers an acceptable and rewarding opportunity to express said identities. Inspired by Judith Butler’s comments on gender identity in Gender Trouble (1990), I examined existing research on drag performance for indications of individual performers’ motivations for performing in drag. I combed through research starting with Esther Newton’s 1972 seminal work on drag queens, Mother Camp, culminating with the work of more recent researchers such as Steven Schacht and Verta Taylor and Leila Rupp. What I discovered challenges the notions that drag queens are motivated by misogyny and indicates there is much exploratory research to be undertaken if we are to truly understand the motivation to perform in drag. Given the increased attention given to gender studies in the social sciences, such research would undoubtedly inform us regarding the many facets of gender identity. (Editor’s Note: This presentation may contain adult themes, content, or imagery.)

For this presentation, Kevan Gardner received a College of the Sciences Best Oral Presentation Award for 2014.