Four departments co-sponsor a live drag performance for November
The Film, Television, and Theatre Department (FTT) intends to bring a drag performance to Notre Dame’s campus on Friday, November 3, the Rover learned in an interview with FTT professor Pam Wojcik.
This semester, Prof. Wojcik is teaching a class titled, “What a Drag: Drag on Screen—Variations and Meanings.” According to Wojcik, “Drag has traditionally been understood as someone who identifies as one sex dressed in the clothing of the other sex.” Drag has been a “major thread throughout the history of entertainment,” she told the Rover.
The description on Notre Dame’s online student “Class Search” platform states that the course “provides an overview of the history of drag performance on screen.” It continues, “We will consider televisual drag, comedic and dramatic fiction films, documentaries, and silent films.”
“Students will be asked to read essays on drag, write weekly reflections, attend class discussions, and attend weekly screenings, as well as a symposium on drag and performance on Friday, November 3, 2023,” it concludes.
Wojcik told the Rover that the symposium will be on “efforts to ban drag.” And she confirmed that at the end of the symposium “there will be a drag performance.”
Wojcik hopes to “give students knowledge about an art form that has been misdescribed” and answer common misconceptions about drag, quipping to the Rover, “Drag won’t turn kids gay.” She also asserted that it is “dangerous to put bans [on drag].”
According to Wojcik, the event has four confirmed co-sponsors: the Department of Gender Studies, Department of Music, Department of American Studies, and the Initiative on Race and Resilience. Only the Department of Music responded to the Rover’s request for comment.
When asked via email why the Department of Music decided to cosponsor the symposium and drag performance, Prof. Berthold Hoeckner, the department’s chair, replied, “Drag performance has been part of musical culture in the West and around the world, so it’s been the subject of scholarly research in musicology and ethnomusicology.”
He concluded, “Having a class and a symposium is a great opportunity for interested students to learn about this subject.”
Wojcik acknowledged that there will likely be pushback to the event, stating, “There will be police and security for the foreseen protests.” Notre Dame Police Department did not reply to the Rover’s inquiry whether this security request has been made or accepted..
The Rover also asked Wojcik whether the event would be open to the public and people of all ages. She replied, “I am not sure if the symposium will be open to people outside the university—I need to talk to DPAC [DeBartolo Performing Arts Center] about that.”
The Rover obtained the complete 2023-24 DPAC event schedule. At publishing time, there was no event listed for November 3, suggesting that scheduling, the ticketing plan, or some other aspect of the event has not been finalized.
In March of 2023, the university did not permit the appearance of a drag queen at the Mendoza College of Business MBA students’ Diversity and Heritage Ball. A graduate student organization, “LGBTQ+ and Allies Club,” invited a “prominent and well-respected drag queen to campus to speak about their experiences as an LGBTQ+ person” for the event, according to reporting by the Observer.
The university released a statement explaining their decision, stating, “Notre Dame values the LGBTQ members of our campus and works closely with the undergraduate and post-baccalaureate student groups on a wide array of events. Any programming sponsored by a student club must align with the group’s mission. That was not the case in this instance.”
The Rover was unable to obtain comment from the Office of the President whether the planned November 3 event will occur.
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