1. J. L. Austin’s concept of “performative” language—that is, a speech act that doesn’t merely describe a given situation but actually brings into being that which it names—has been immensely productive for gender studies and queer theory (extending beyond speech to cultural discourse including gender assignment and forms of “coming out of the closet”). However, some uses of the term “performative” in performance studies lose sight of the role that social convention and the unconscious play in the performative effects of discourse beyond the intentions of an individual actor knowingly performing a theatrical role, which I am here calling “performancy” as it connotes willed performance. On this, see J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words, 2nd Edition (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1975) and Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (New York: Routledge, 1993). [return to page 1]

2. As the TV Tropes website explains:

“This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction. Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means ‘stereotyped and trite.’ In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them. The wiki is called “TV Tropes” because TV is where we started. Over the course of a few years, our scope has crept out to include other media. Tropes transcend television. They reflect life. Since a lot of art, especially the popular arts, does its best to reflect life, tropes are likely to show up everywhere. We are not a stuffy encyclopedic wiki. We're a buttload more informal. We encourage breezy language and original thought. There Is No Such Thing as Notability, and no citations are needed. If your entry cannot gather any evidence by the Wiki Magic, it will just wither and die. Until then, though, it will be available through the Main Tropes Index. We are also not a wiki for bashing things. Once again, we're about celebrating fiction, not showing off how snide and sarcastic we can be.”

See: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HomePage

[return to page 2]

3. I would like to thank Bradford Nordeen, Maureen Turim, Linda Howell, Melissa McCarron, Diana Aldrete, Christopher Perrello, Lauren Jones, Alex Palmer, Hayden Drewery, Erin Tuzuner, Carl Cochrane, Jessie Nute, Matthew Birmingham and the queens of Dragstravaganza (Jacksonville, FL), among many other friends and fans of the show, for sharing their thoughts and insights about RuPaul’s Drag Race. This essay developed out of my presentation on a panel at the Northeast Modern Language Association conference, ‘You’ve got She-Mail!’: Drag and Discursive Limits in RuPaul’s Drag Race, organized by Diana Aldrete and Melissa McCarron, March 17, 2012. [return to page 3]

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