Queer Instruments: Local Practices and Global Queernesses.

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Alyson Campbell, Brunel University, UK

Queer Instruments: Local Practices and Global Queernesses.

We are seeking articles for an edited collection on queer performance practices. Theatre and performance have in a number of ways served queer as an idea. As queer theory emerged, particularly Butler's configuration of performativity, performance analysis has drawn widely from it as a critical framework. From the beginnings of queer's bumpy interactions with drag as a trope, through to its recuperated homonormative versions in queer theatre festivals, theatre has offered a fecund ground upon which queer ideas can be demonstrated, posited, questioned and developed. This edited collection seeks to identify and explore what it is that performance has offered, and can continue to offer, queer theory.

This book is international in scope, but applies the optic of local queer practices and queernesses. Taking the local as starting point, we are keen to avoid the universalising assumptions of Anglo-American queer cultural critique. In other words, how do local performance practices challenge a monolithic or commodified notion of queer based in UK/US social politics? Within this scope, then, we are interested in what local queer dramaturgies may look like, how they function, how they might upset a dominant description of queer's shortcomings or omissions, and, particularly, what relationships they set up with their specific audiences. Ultimately we wish in this context to answer the question: what can theatre teach queer?

This gives rise to a whole set of questions, including but certainly not limited to:

Re/considering Drag
How do we rethink and understand drag performance at this point in time? What has emerged in specific practices and specific places since its problematic and much-debated place at the centre of queer theorising in the early 90s? Have local drag performances changed since the ideas of queer? Are there local traditions of drag performance that have always been/will never be queer?

The local: Community, Race, Ethnicity and Class.
We are interested in how local performance practices influence and intersect with the experience of embodied, queer lives. t.l. cowan, for example, suggests a 'cabaretisation' of queer culture, arguing that contemporary cabaret generates 'a particular social-cultural-political formation and consciousness, a 'cabaret consciousness'' (2010:50).
How can class considerations upset, wrongfoot or question queer assumptions?
How does local queer performance resist what Puar notes as the 'racism of the global gay left?' (2007:xi). Does such a global left make assumptions about the construction of queer class in relation to race also?
What is the impact of rurality on local queernesses?
In what ways does local trans performance deal with other social issues of race, class, ethnicity and sexuality?

In what ways do the small, ephemeral spaces and practices of queer performance resist the homonormativising juggernaut of mainstream, assimilationist gay discourses?

Queer femininities, Queer masculinities and Trans Performance
Where are women in queer performance culture? Is Sue-Ellen Case right to argue that queer has erased the lesbian feminist position and lesbian representation? (2009:9-11) Are we post-lesbian? Likewise, how have Elizabeth Freeman's ideas about the productive temporal drag of lesbian feminism manifested in local performance contexts?
What do trans bodies and trans performance practices do/queer? Has trans performance developed norms in local performance? Has local trans performance resisted the "conservative strand" (Butt, 2008:32) present in trans culture (although not reduced to it) in its performance making?

The Resistant Body
How does queer/crip performance challenge homonormative ideas of the commercially viable, pretty gay in performance practice? Does local queer crip performance challenge performance making in queer space per se?
How have local performances of fatness related to queer performance dramaturgies?
What is the place and status of HIV performance post-post-AIDS? What are the local manifestations of work not-NOT ABOUT AIDS?

Normative Queer Theatre?
Is theatre simply too conservative a form to be queer? How do playwrights, performers, designers and dramaturgs working in normative theatres set up points of resistance in their work? After the explosion of 'performativity' claims, where are we with performance that openly shows the inauthentic/'character'? Looking at working methods, can one argue a queer way of making theatre?

We are interested in hearing from potential contributors who are writing/working in queer theatre and performance. For the purposes of this book our understanding of performance is as the 'bounded act' (Butler), aesthetically and dramaturgically organised – however far outside the conventions of mainstream theatre it may sit.

Abstracts should be 500-750 words long and the deadline is 31st July 2012.
Full articles will be due by 28 Feb 2013. These should be formatted according to Harvard style guide.

To submit an abstract, or to discuss potential submissions, please contact Alyson Campbell (alyson.campbell@brunel.ac.uk) and Steve Farrier (s.farrier@cssd.ac.uk).