Your essay should be five pages—though it can be more. It should be double space

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Dec 1, 2022


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Your essay should be five pages—though it can be more. It should be double spaced, and this does NOT include your Works Cited page (Bibliography). You should NOT space extra between paragraphs. Please put page numbers in the header or footer, and include a list of your sources at the end, preferably in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style.

Step one – find three sources that are scholarly, or peer reviewed. Google  “Google Scholar.” This will help you find scholarly sources. You can also ask a Librarian in the chat on the Library web page. Go ahead! Librarians are there to help you.

Step two, find at least two other sources. These can be scholarly or not. You can have as many sources as you want.

List your sources in a document, along with notes underneath each one about why you picked them and how you want to use them. What will they help you show?

Arrange these sources and notes alphabetically, according to MLA Style on the OWL at Purdue web site. You can also get help at the Writing Center. Go to the Writing Center page to find out how to sign up for an appointment.

Post this list—your Annotated Bibliography– in your Journal for DOUBLE POINTS. That’s right—you get double the usual Journal points for this, so be sure to do it to boost your grade!
Step three, write your research paper according to the directions below.

***This paper needs to be intersectional (about race and gender together).

***This paper needs to be scholarly, which means it has three scholarly sources–peer reviewed articles in academic journals–NOT just popular ones (like websites, magazines, or newsapers). Cite from your sources. List them at the end of your paper in a Works Cited list.

HINT: The Judith Butler article “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” in your Week Ten reading DOES count as a scholarly article, if you use it. That means you will only need to find two (2) more.

Drag originated in gay culture and was exported to the mainstream–via film and television–and transformed in the process. Feminists have sometimes seen drag as sexist and misogynist, and it can be, but drag balls date back to at least the 19thcentury, and began to garner mainstream popular attention in the 1960s with Andy Warhol’s Factory productions and Susan Sontag’s famous essay “On Camp.” Female drag kings and male drag divas were present in cabarets and clubs in the 1920s, 1930s, and onwards, but it can be said to have entered the cultural mainstream in earnest in the 1990s, with Jenny Livingston’s 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, and more recently, with television shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race and its spinoffs, and Ryan Murphy’s Pose. These days we recognize the complexity of drag as a tribute to feminine strength, power, and fierceness, as well as a parody of “normal” mainstream ideals of gender. We also recognize drag kings as similar in their theatricality to traditional female impersonators, while also embodying masculine qualities of dignity, boyishness, and smooth flirtation.

Arguments you can try in your paper might be these:
Is drag today on mainstream tv an example of cultural dilution and commodification? 
Is drag a dynamic site of culture and meaning making?
Is drag evolving and improving?
Is drag deteriorating or being appropriated?
Is drag these days critiquing gender, or embracing it? Or both?
RuPaul identifies as male, and discourages trans women from being on his show. Should female drag competitions be limited to performers who still identify as male, or should there be more open categories for trans women, as there were in Paris is Burning?
Drag kings have been around for decades as well, but are almost completely unknown and invisible, except in queer circles. Why? Is male drag more exciting? Or just better known?

Decide what you think about one of these questions, and decide what your argument is. YOUR PAPER SHOULD MAKE AN ARGUMENT.

FIRST, define drag. Use Paris is Burning to help you define drag and walking in drag balls. You can also look at some of these older drag clips from You Tube (that are right here) as well. What was drag like in the 1920s? The 1960s? Is drag in Paris is Burning similar to these early film clips? Pay attention to terms that the performers define for you, and think about how drag categories involve not only gender, but race and class.

THEN, compare drag then and now. Pick an episode or scenes from RuPaul’s Drag Race,or an episode or scenes from Pose or Legendary (HBO Max), and compare it to Paris is Burning and/or these earlier clips, analyzing how drag is performed by participants at different geographical, historical, and cultural moments. You can also look at the Vogue article about Drag Kings and talk about why female drag is so popular, but male drag is still unknown.

Use this definition of drag and comparison of then and now to answer one of the 7 questions in the list above. If it is easier to start with those questions, do that. If it is easier to define drag and compare it to Drag Race, drag kings, etc. in order to work towards one of those questions, do that.

Remember to be intersectional!

Pose is an FX show available on cable and tv streaming sites on demand, and on Hulu. It is also on YouTube for $1.99 an episode, and on Amazon Prime video and iTunes as well, but there are also great free clips on the FX website, if you click on the “video extras” link. You should be able to talk about the show sufficiently if you just watch some of these, if you don’t want to or can’t pay for full episodes.

RuPaul’s Drag Race is a show developed for Logo and VH1. You can watch it on demand or buy episodes in the usual way on Amazon, iTunes, etc.. There are spinoff web shows such as Untucked and Whatcha Packin that you can watch for free on the VH1 Drag Raceshow site, but you should try to watch one Drag Race episode if you can, just to get an idea of the format. There are free clips on YouTube, such as this one: .

Paris is Burning is available on Kanopy at If you haven’t used Kanopy, just google it and sign in with your University of Mississippi username and password. It is also on YouTube right now at . If you have never seen it, watch it now! Everything drag these days–includy Ryan Murphy’s show Pose–comes from this 1989 documentary. It is only about an hour and 15 minutes long, and it started the whole ballroom craze way back when. I have also put links for it in your Module Ten.

You can draw on anything we have read or watched this semester to talk about drag, as well as outside reading, tv shows, film, and articles both popular and scholarly. You will be graded on how well you synthesize, research, and argue (see rubric). Your essay should be five to seven full pages, double spaced, and this does not include your works cited page. It should be AT LEAST five double-spaced pages, and you should NOT space extra between paragraphs. Please put page numbers in the header or footer.

IMPORTANT: You need to find three scholarly sources. You can use Judith Butler as one of your scholarly sources if you want, and I encourage you to do so. How does she define drag? Do you agree, based on these shows and films? What is important about drag today?

Then find two more sources on Google Scholar, or you can ask a librarian on the Library page via chat. You can have as many sources as you want.


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