Glamazons: Queer Barbarians in Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea and RuPaul’s Drag Race

in Subjects Barbarian, Monstrous, and Wild
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Moving between canonical theater and contemporary television in this essay, Mareen Will explores parallels and disjunctures between the subversive performances of gender and methods of minoritarian community building undertaken in Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea and Rupaul’s Drag Race. Considering Kleist’s Amazons in terms of queer theory and RuPaul’s drag queens as barbarians, she demonstrates a productive compatibility between the two fields of research. Foregrounding alternate modes of kinship and ritualization, alternate uses of bodies and language, and a certain disidentificational stance, Will outlines a set of strategies of positive, self-claimed barbarism which suggest communal ways of “working in and against” dominant power structures (Muñoz 12).

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