Call for Submissions & Articles: P45 Contemporaries — FEEL YOUR FANTASY, the Drag Race Cluster

deadline for submissions: 
January 10, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Tyler Tennant and Dr. Monica Huerta, Post45 Contemporaries
contact email: 

CFP Submission Link and Website: https://dragrace-p45cfp.com/ 

Post45 Contemporaries Site: https://post45.org/contemporaries/

 

Guess who’s back in the house
Heels click-clackin’ about
Fine, fresh, feminine, style to eleven
I’m divine, so heavenly
Gentlemen sweatin’
It’s dimes across the board with no doubt
Body like wow

— RuPaul, “Call Me Mother”

 

Hey Kitty Girls!! The Library is officially open!We’re (finally) doing a cluster on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and we want to hear from you! This cluster asks contributors to think about Drag Race in relation to politics, aesthetics, activism, history, pedagogy, narrative, fashion, capitalism, and the show’s cultural impact. We want to know: how does Drag Race as a constellation of personas, storylines, competitions, and commentary play with the idea of — not fantasy in general but — the fantasy?

Sometimes, the fantasy echoes notions of “realness” inherited from ballroom cultures and drag queen pageants. But there are also many queens who unlock “the fantasy” from any explicit reference to realness. We’re interested in these iterations, registers, and ideas of feeling in feeling your fantasy.

In addition, what queer histories of drag aesthetics, ballroom cultures, and local politics of queer communities interact with the show’s version of the fantasy, the show’s structure as a competition, the show’s use of certain vernaculars and catch-phrases, while cultivating the show’s viewership? How do each of these also influence the queens’ many projects once they’ve left the workroom? And how has Drag Race and platforms like Instagram and TikTok impacted local drag scenes, drag aesthetics in general, and even how queer kids find themselves and each other at every scale?

 

What is a “cluster”?

Check out Post45’s Contemporaries sectionfor clear examples of a cluster. Basically, a cluster is a collection of submissions published together featuring different perspectives, hot takes, and rigorous research on some kind of question, topic, concept, or object(s). They are not peer-reviewed in the traditional sense, but they do receive careful attention in editing and revisions from the editors of the cluster, as well as from our Contemporaries Editors. Contributors typically approach the cluster with an informal, colloquial, accessible voice — but they dive in with everything they’ve got! 

What is this cluster about?

Drag Race self-consciously models itself in pedagogical terms as an “education” in queer cultural phenomena — from reading, to shade, to fishiness/passing/blending, and even to the intimacies and shared/un-shared histories and experiences that the girls bond over while they paint in front of the mirror. But despite its explicit pedagogical moments, RuPaul’s Drag Race is also difficult to define as one single thing, or one single lesson (other than: If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?). This is partly because through RuPaul’s production company, World of Wonder, the series has spawned multiple spin offs through giving (some) contestants their own series and has expanded into multiple countries. Its global reach gives credibility to Season 13 U.S. queens’ singing: “drag is all over the world!”

But even though RuPaul’s growing media empire and its impact on the zeitgeist should not be underestimated and deserves close critical attention, drag was all over the world before RuPaul’s Drag Race, too. We also invite critical work that examines the show and related content to the show(s) as one node in a longer history of queer performance cultures. 

Possible lines of inquiry might include:

  • How does the fantasy function as object and modality?

  • What are the relationships between the fantasy and fantasy, speculation, fictionality, the magical, and imaginative labor more generally? Does the fantasy shift, shape, sharpen how we might think of these other terms? 

  • How do Drag Race and its related content challenge, reinforce, play with conceptions of the fantasy, and what is possible or (un)imaginable? Questions could include those of mediation, activated archives, aesthetics, performance, affect, and specularity.

  • How has the series developed its politics of queerness and transness over time and across its now many geographies?

  • Please someone stage a feminist of color encounter/account with/of Drag Race.

  • How is Drag Race shaping and disrupting discourses about drag, gender, authenticity, race, sexuality, class, celebrity, or something else entirely?

  • In what ways does the series cultivate itself as a pedagogical tool?

  • Does the show’s frenzied format as both spectacle and game show with hyper-editing and para-narrativization strategies enable or engender certain discussions while limiting or excluding other viewpoints?

  • Like many of the catchphrases the show is known for (kitty girls, squirrel friends, inner saboteur, ruveal yourself, condragulations, drag race herstory, bring back my girls, silence!, she done already had herses, shantay you stay, sashay away), there are also kinds of humor that mini- and maxi-challenges tend to reuse and repurpose. What ways are there to think about the repetition the show relies on and the bounds of humor on the show?

  • Please someone give an account of the show in terms of fungibility and iterability.

  • How can we think about the shifting relations between platforms (VH1, LOGO, World of Wonder, podcast, YouTube, etc.) and reception, access, and audience?

  • As the queens who have appeared on the show have now become people who have “grown up watching the show,” how has that recursivity shaped the kind of drag viewers are exposed to?

  • Please someone talk about Mama Ru’s hair and/or suit fabric patterns.

  • How does the commodification of queer competition and the internal emphases of the show on each queen’s marketing and branding strategies impact the aesthetic and political limits of the series? (What would your soup can look like?)

  • What role do the shows, songs, and books (like VICE’s The Trixie and Katya Show or Lawrence Chaney’s recent book on drag superstardom, any of the queens’ songs etc.) that orbit Drag Race play in discourses about and receptions of the series? How do those shows and forms complicate what we would otherwise “know” about the series itself?

  • Please someone do a close reading of Michelle Visage’s style evolution on the show.

 What kinds of submission formats can I apply with?

For this cluster, we are encouraging people to submit pieces in formats and styles that they feel will best honor their ideas. We are open to written and video essays, manifestos, digital (or print!) zines, stand-up routines, podcast episodes, original songs or remixes, collaborations, dialogues, statements, close-reads, interviews, algorithms, book reviews, or performances (whatever that might look like!). Simply submit your ideas in the form below!

Who can apply?

We are open to everyone — not just those with university affiliations! Drag queens, students, independent scholars, activists, performers, influencers, artists, activists, and especially librarians are all deeply encouraged to apply!

Some important notes about this specific cluster:

  • Contributors may be asked to participate in a new Post45 Contemporaries dialogue series to discuss the cluster with other contributors during a digital event; the content from this event will be used for an upcoming episode of the Contemporaries podcast

  • We have raised funds to pay a small cash tip to each collaborator; the full amount will be determined based on the number of contributors for this cluster, which will be capped approximately at 8.

  • There are a few other components related to this cluster that we can’t ruveal yet — but it’s exciting stuff!

 

THANKS!!

— Tyler Tennant (Emory) and Dr. Monica Huerta (Princeton)