Date of Award

June 2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication and Rhetorical Studies

Advisor(s)

Erin J. Rand

Keywords

Corporeality, Counterpublic, Gay Pride, Intersectionality, Neoliberalism, Queer Public Memory

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This thesis chronicles two areas of queer social movement activity—the history of Pride in major metropolitan American cities, and Queerbomb a DIY Pride festival in Austin, Texas—to critique the material-spatial impacts of corporate culture on performances of LGBTQ Pride, pinpointing how business interests limit the lines of solidarity that can be drawn around queerness at Pride assemblies. Using fragments gathered from historical accounts, field interviews, and the internet, I explore scenes of radical activist worldmaking resisting the corporatization of numerous Pride events. This exploration intervenes in counterpublic theory (Asen; Brouwer; Fraser) by emphasizing the need to explore public space and bodies coming together as assemblies (Butler) through a performative materialist standpoint. This project advocates for the importance of a performative materialist analysis, as such analysis helps critical rhetoric engage in dialectical reading of counterpublics as generated both through and within structures, while also linked to discourse that works to recite and therefore create new structures; exploring how both the material world impacts the circulation of these discursive spaces, while simultaneously considering how discourse can also constitute alternative practices in wider public spheres. Using performative materialism, the thesis engages in theorizing queer memory (Morris; Dunn; Muñoz), intersectionality (Crenshaw; Hill-Collins; Spade), and corporeality (Edelman; Grosz; María Rodríguez) within assemblies that function to move grids of intelligibility to build new alliances of solidarity. I advocate to move the social, the groups in this thesis do more than gain publicity, they break down walls and barriers, cross borders, and forge alliances. However, public appearance alone does not mean this work will happen; it is merely the first step and after this step sustained work is needed to make change.

Access

Open Access

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