If gender isn’t binary, neither is drag : an analysis of drag, progressiveness, and activism

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kelton Hollister (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Danielle Bouchard

Abstract: This thesis seeks to analyze and challenge how drag, and those who perform it, are generally conceived of in much of the scholarship, as well as argue for a more nuanced view of drag that challenges binaries of gender, morality, and potential for social change. Rather than solely a leisure activity taken part in by cisgender gay men’s and lesbians dressing as the “opposite” gender, I argue that drag is present in many forms throughout U.S. culture, is frequently used for activist ends, and that the prevailing view of performer identities and presentation is reductive and erases large swaths of the population who perform or engage with drag. Furthermore, I question trends in the scholarship that seek to frame drag as always either subversive or regressive, asserting instead that doing so furthers a non-intersectional, single-axis model of oppression and elides the ways in which all gendered embodiment, in or out of drag, is as imbricated in reproducing harmful gender norms as drag genders can be. In addition, I argue that the insights of drag scholarship can be of relevance to scholars in a variety of fields, challenging the pigeonholing of the study of drag into LGBTQ Studies alone. Ultimately, I will further a reformulation of how drag, and the study of drag, are positioned within academia and argue for a more nuanced, holistic understanding.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Activism, Drag, Queer, Transgender
Drag performance
Gender identity in art
Community activists
Queer theory

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