“Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins”: Costume and the Construction of the Humorous Hyper-Femme

Emmie Pappa Eddy (Indiana University)

Crossdressing, drag, and other professional displays of gender deviance are long-standing traditions in American theater. Stock characters, dancers, queens, and comediennes have dressed in variously anachronistic, glamorous, and provocative fashions, exposing on stage the ridiculous standards of the gender binary for humorous effect. This survey of United States entertainment history examines the relationship between extreme gender-(non)conforming costume and comedic performance, considering the various ways performers across genders and professions subvert audience expectations of femininity through combinations of formal extravagance and behavioral/uttered outlandishness.

Part of 03-08 Calico, Crocs, and Corsets: A Survey of Queer Visibility in American Material Culture, Thursday, November 02, 2:30 pm–4:30 pm