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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hegemonic "realness"? An intersectional feminist analysis of "RuPaul's Drag Race"
by Jenkins, Sarah Tucker, M.A., Florida Atlantic University, 2013, 143; 1523457
Abstract (Summary)

RuPaul's Drag Race is one of the few reality television shows focusing on QLGBT (queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) identified individuals that has made it into mainstream consciousness. RuPaul's Drag Race debuted in 2009 and appears on the channels, Logo and VH1. This thesis analyzes the four seasons from 2009 through 2012. RuPaul's Drag Race provides a unique perspective on the ways that gender identity, sexuality, size, class, race, and ethnicity intersect and interact in people's lives. The television show augments many of these intersections and the challenges related to these identities while still reflecting the daily struggles that people experience. In many respects, the show works to promote messages of self-love and acceptance and makes an effort to praise each contestant. However, it also promotes many problematic and damaging stereotypes. This thesis conducts a feminist analysis in order to answer the question: How does RuPaul's Drag Race relate to hegemonic and oppressive stereotypes and roles associated with gender identity, sexual orientation, size, class, race and ethnicity? Does it challenge or reinforce such hegemonies? This thesis utilizes a number of secondary questions in its analysis. How does RuPaul's Drag Race portray fat and thin contestants? How do contestants' socioeconomic backgrounds fit into their portrayals on the show? How does RuPaul's Drag Race portray queer cultures, and are these portrayals stereotypical? How is race represented on the show; do racial stereotypes come into play? In order to answer these questions, this thesis examines visual imagery, narrative, and dialogue in the show as well as some supporting materials. It utilizes theories from cultural studies, women's studies, English, and communications within its analysis. This thesis concludes that although RuPaul's Drag Race does engage in some subversive behavior, it ultimately reinforces harmful hegemonic stereotypes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Scodari, Christine
Commitee: Barrios, Barclay, Beoku-Betts, Josephine, Coltman, Heather, Njambi, Wairimu, Rosson, Barry T.
School: Florida Atlantic University
Department: Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: MAI 52/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, LGBTQ studies, Multimedia Communications, Gender studies
Publication Number: 1523457
ISBN: 978-1-303-22727-1
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