Queen of the Academy: Academic Drag as Pedagogy and Praxis
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Direct stories from and pedagogical representations of equity-denied and oppressed bodies remain largely missing from and kept out of the academy. And scholarship and scholarly gate-keepers across the academy – and especially in fields (like English Language and Literature) who claim to have pedagogy, social justice, and humanity at their hearts – continue to police and punish these bodies, questioning, if not mocking, the legitimacy and rigour of our methods, theories, and voices. In this dissertation, I ask: How can we intervene in, interfere with, and interrupt this ongoing, active equity-denial of diverse voices and diverse scholarly experiences from across the academy? More pointedly, I ask myself: What happens when I force the gaze of the academy to see me, to see and contend with all of me, with all of my intersections of privileges and oppressions as the whole person, the whole scholar, the whole body I am? And I answer both questions through what I call academic drag. Using counterstory and teaching queer as method and genre in this dissertation, I set up academic drag as pedagogy in three capacities – as visual pedagogy; as performative pedagogy; and as decolonial and anti-racist pedagogy – before I embody and demonstrate academic drag as praxis by literally trying on new ways of empowered and empowering teaching in the classroom and as generic interventions into the hallowed halls of dissertation gatekeeping. This looks like: first, revisiting some of my earlier Transgender Visual Culture teaching that I taught in a “shitty white way” seven years ago to try on teaching queer to re-teach more racially responsively today; and second, collating transcripts of some of my public scholarship talks on “Gender Pronouns and Cultures of Respect” into a counterstory novella imagining myself as a participant learning, unlearning, and relearning from myself as academic drag queen pedagogue. Through my academic drag as pedagogy and praxis modelled in this dissertation, I show how I enter into the academic space created by equity-denied scholars before me and join them in pushing further from the dominant centre toward the margins, widening the grounds of what is scholarly research and whose voices can be there and can belong there. Academic drag is part transgender visuality, part queer phenomenology and teaching queer, part visual performance and pedagogy, and all critical race counternarrativity toward decolonizing pedagogies and praxes. And through my synecdochic figuration of myself as an academic drag queen, I conclude this dissertation with a call that all of our pedagogies and praxes become dragged up to create meaningful, sustainable, and powerful change.
Cite this version of the work
Tommy Mayberry (2022). Queen of the Academy: Academic Drag as Pedagogy and Praxis. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18924
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