AMCULT 103 - First Year Seminar in American Studies
Section: 001 Drag in America
Term: FA 2017
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Drag is an extremely popular art form in the United States and in many places around the world, as evidenced by the popularity of the television reality competition RuPaul’s Drag Race and of diverse drag cabaret performances and films. Drag, also referred to as cross-dressing and gender illusionism, have been longstanding practices in diverse societies and historical periods. What is the history of drag? Who are its most famous exponents? How has it changed? How is it affected or marked by race, social class, language, gender, sexuality, and geographic location? How have anthropologists, cultural studies scholars, and theater and performance studies scholars written about it? What is the relationship between drag, queer performance, and transgender identity? What is the difference between a drag queen and a drag king? What are the politics of drag? And how does one do drag?

In this class we will approach drag from a variety of perspectives, as informed by American, Afroamerican, and Latina/o studies; women’s and gender studies; queer studies; transgender studies; ethnic studies; performance studies; and theater and film scholarship. We will read pioneering scholars such as Esther Newton, Marjorie Garber, Judith Butler, Judith (Jack) Halberstam, José Esteban Muñoz, Susana Peña, David Román, and Marlon M. Bailey, as well as literary representations by Mayra Santos-Febres. We will learn about drag superstars such as Stormé DeLarverie, Holly Woodlawn, Mario Montez, Lypsinka, Lady Bunny, RuPaul, and Taylor Mac, and discuss theatrical and performance elements (costume, makeup, choreography, lip syncing, humor, audience). We will also discuss landmark documentaries such as The Queen (1968), Paris Is Burning (1990), and Mala Mala (2014), and television and Internet series such as RuPaul’s Drag Race and Cooking with Drag Queens. We will analyze drag as a form of employment and a labor practice, in addition to a form of artistic expression and entertainment. The class will also have experiential components including a drag workshop, a student performance, and a visit to a local drag performance. All students will write essays analyzing the readings, films, and performances that we will study. Final grade will be based on writing assignments, attendance, and class participation (including special activities), and not on your performance skills.

AMCULT 103 - First Year Seminar in American Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0226577600
Mothercamp : female impersonators in America, Author: Esther Newton, Publisher: Univ. of Chicago Press Paperback 1972
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9780472029372
Butch queens up in pumps : gender, performance, and ballroom culture in Detroit, Author: Marlon M. Bailey. 2013
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 0312252277
Sirena Selena, Author: Mayra Santos-Febres ; translated by Stephen Lytle., Publisher: Picador USA 1st ed. 2000
Other Textbook Editions OK.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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