Texas Christian University Offers New Course: ‘Queer Art of Drag’
Texas Christian University is offering their students a course that allows them to craft their own drag persona, meet with drag performers and experts, and explore "the queer art of drag."
“The Queer Art of Drag” will be available to students for the 2023-’24 school year through its Women and Gender Studies Department, according to The Texan.
Nino Testa, the course’s instructor, is a drag performer who goes by the name Maria von Clapp. According to TCU’s website, his areas of academic focus are LGBTQ History and Culture, Queer Theories, and queer activism.
Testa states on the syllabus that he is “a novice performer and will be engaged in learning alongside [students].”
The student syllabus recommends literature that encourages readers to “abandon the sterile and diagnostic attitudes toward gender that characterize dominant cultural logics: by asking us to consider gender not as a category of being but as poetry.”
Some of the assignments include reading material such as “The Gender Binary Is a Tool of White Supremacy” by Kravitz Marshall, listening to podcasts like “Untucking the Past” by Lady J, or watching commentaries by Judith Butler, who believes gender is a role and not a biological feature.
“We act as if that being of a man or that being of a woman is actually an internal reality or something that is simply true about us, a fact about us,” Butler says in a video linked in the course syllabus. “But actually it’s a phenomenon that is being produced all the time and reproduced all the time so to say gender is performative is to say that nobody really is a gender from the start.”
Students are also required to watch 6-7 drag performances, craft a drag persona, and produce a one to two-minute drag performance.
The syllabus notes the class is funded by an Inclusive Excellence Grant from the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. And each student is given a $100 budget to buy drag costumes and makeup for performances.
Students are also required to use an individual’s identifying pronoun. “Names and pronouns are deeply personal,” the syllabus states. “Assumptions about them can cause harm. In this class, we use whatever name and pronouns peers, authors, and community members ask us to use. If we make a mistake (for instance, using the wrong pronouns or mispronouncing someone’s name), we will respectfully correct ourselves.”
TCU is one of the largest institutions associated with the Disciples of Christ denomination, which says it upholds a “true community, deep Christian spirituality, and a passion for justice.” However, TCU students come from more than 60 religious traditions and faiths, according to their website.
And the Department of Women & Gender Studies collaborates with several organizations to bring drag performances to the student community, according to their website.