THE (CLASS) STRUGGLE IS REAL(LY QUEER): A BILATERAL INTERVENTION INTO WORKING-CLASS STUDIES AND QUEER THEORY
AbstractClass issues have become more prescient in media and literary studies, as the gap between the upper and lower classes has widened. Meanwhile, scholars in the growing field of working-class studies attempt to define what working-class literature is by formulating criteria for what kinds of people count as working-class, based on moralism supposedly held by working-class people. Usually, working-class people are envisioned as white, heteronormative, and dignified legitimate workers. Working-class studies seldom engages with queer theory or conventional forms of identity politics. Conversely, queer theorists often reference class, but abandon it in favor of other topics. This dissertation argues that working-class studies needs a queering, and queer theory needs a more pointed class analysis. I begin with a close look at queer people of color in media, first revisiting the 1990 documentary film Paris is Burning. I examine how failure relates to the lives of the queens portrayed, and how class complicates failure’s potential resistance, and how drag performances comprise highly class-critical social commentary. Ru Paul’s Drag Race and the photography of Pittsburgh artist Caldwell Linker are compared with the film. In my second chapter, I analyze the television series Breaking Bad and argue that the limited scope of working-class character in working-class studies obscures the exploitation of non-normative Others by Walter White, who is not a working-class hero, but a high capitalist rising to power in the economy of illicit drug manufacturing. In my last chapter, I explore the issues of class and abjection in three contemporary novels, Bastard out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison, The Beans of Egypt, Maine, by Carolyn Chute, and Push, by Sapphire. This chapter asks questions about extremes of class and queer failure, and the impact of intersectionality on the ostensible resistance in claiming failure and indignity argued in contemporary queer theories that take up abjection.
TypeUniversity of Pittsburgh ETD
Kidd, Katherine Anne (2016) THE (CLASS) STRUGGLE IS REAL(LY QUEER): A BILATERAL INTERVENTION INTO WORKING-CLASS STUDIES AND QUEER THEORY. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.