MAKES ONE: too fat, too skinny, too plain, too freaky, too girlie, too mannish, too light, too dark, too ugly, too perfect, too plastic, too promiscuous, too outspoken, too visible, too poor, too rude, too hairy, too old, too gossipy…
“Conventionally identified with the feminine,” Della Pollock writes, “ ‘too much’ ostensibly describes both intrinsic characteristics of unacceptable ‘others’ and their proper place on the moral/political gridwork of everyday social life: they are excessive, excluded, superfluous, at best marginal.” Nonetheless, excessiveness also functions as a resistant practice, what Pollock describes as “flooding determinant gridworks with excluded and as yet unimagined possibilities.” We thus propose in this special issue of Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory to address performances in and beyond theatre (mostly beyond) that assert excessiveness as a radical alternative to overdetermined structures of social, cultural, and political meaning. We also invite papers that examine how performative excessive behaviors (perhaps especially, though not necessarily, dieting, shopping, and plastic surgery) affirm the status quo and reinforce false notions of “normalcy,” rather than subvert or disrupt the concept of the “normal.”
While earlier theoretical treatments of excess by literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, sociologist Alfonso Lingis, Georges Batailles, Luce Irigaray and other French feminists, queer theorists such as Judith Butler, and phenomenologists including Merleau-Ponty offered treatments of excess as culturally subversive, these theorizations also obscured actual embodied and performed acts of excess. And while Bakhtin himself often focused on actual cultural traditions of performed excess--notably during Carnival--the theoretical deployments of Bakhtinian concepts often remained overwhelmingly abstract. In order to move beyond earlier, abstract theoretical treatments of excess, as well as to redress media excoriations of excess and the people who perform it, this issue of Women and Performance will explicitly address actual performed instantiations of bodily excess, such as eating, drinking, fucking, drugging, aging, talking, as well as how fat, disabled, queer, or aged bodies themselves mark out a kind of cultural excess or social terrain of “too much.” Just as Leo Bersani urges graphic discussions of sex acts as a means of redressing overly theoretical approaches to queer identities, we also hope to highlight both these theoretical approaches, and also insist on actual performed embodiments of excess; in other words, treatments of excess that do not remain purely theoretical.
Seeking to document and historicize performance practices that constitute excess, we invite papers that probe excess within a range of embodied moments and behaviors. We also, of course, welcome papers on well-known excessive types such as Tammy Faye Baker, Coco Fusco, Nao Bustamante, Courtney Love, Anna Nicole Smith, Bessie Smith, Camille Paglia, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Tracey Ullman, Janis Joplin, Roseanne Barr, Queen Latifah, Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Pamela Anderson, Liz Taylor, JLo, Marilyn Kroker, Kathy Acker, Pat Califia, and Annie Lennox.
We encourage contributions from a variety of fields, including (but not limited to) Anthropology, Communication, Comparative Literature, Disability Studies, English, Film or Cinema Studies, History, Media Studies, Musicology, Sociology, Theater, and Women’s Studies. Essays should be approximately 5000-6000 words in length and should adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style. Please send completed essays as MSWord attachment to both of the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by October 15, 2004. Expressions of interest prior to the deadline are encouraged.
Kathleen LeBesco is Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Chair of the Humanities Division at Marymount Manhattan College. She is author of Revolting Bodies? The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity, and co-editor of The Drag King Anthology (published simultaneously as a special double issue of Journal of Homosexuality). Jana Evans Braziel is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. She is co-editor of Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader. LeBesco and Braziel have previously collaborated on the editing of Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression.
Kathleen LeBesco, Ph.D.
Marymount Manhattan College
221 East 71st St.
New York, NY 10021 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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