In a move that has sparked controversy, Texas Christian University (TCU), known for its progressive approach to education, has announced the introduction of a new elective course titled ‘The Queer Art of Drag.’ The course, set to be offered in the 2023 school year, aims to cover the history of drag performances and provide resources for students interested in developing their own “critical drag personas.”
The introduction of this course raises questions about the appropriateness of its content and the potential implications for students. The course is facilitated in collaboration with the Department of Women and Gender Studies and the Gender Resource Office, among other community partners. However, the nature of the course content and its alignment with the university’s mission and values have come under scrutiny.
The course description states that drag is an art form with a rich history of challenging dominant norms and systems of oppression. However, it also acknowledges that drag has been deployed in service of violent ideologies and can sometimes participate in harmful normative logics. This admission raises concerns about the potential negative impacts of promoting such a course in an academic setting.
The course’s focus on “critical drag” in relation to social critique and “queer world making” appears to promote a subjective social perspective over objective analysis. This approach, which encourages the disruption of established cultural and political systems, may not provide students with a balanced or comprehensive understanding of the topic.
Furthermore, the course’s desired learning outcomes, which include a focus on the social construction of gender, sex, and sexuality, along with intersectionality and privilege and oppression, seem to lean heavily towards a specific ideological perspective. This could potentially limit the scope of discussion and critical thinking, thereby undermining the educational value of the course.
The requirement for students to create a “drag persona” and perform in drag as part of a “critical performance practice” also raises ethical questions. This aspect of the course could potentially pressure students into participating in activities that they may not be comfortable with or that may conflict with their personal beliefs or values.
The introduction of this course comes at a time when the contentious nature of drag performances, children, and gender identity has been a point of contention in Texas and its Legislature. The Texas Legislature recently passed two milestone pieces of legislation to ban both gender modification treatments for children and drag performances with children present. The offering of this course at TCU seems to be at odds with these legislative developments and the broader societal debate on these issues.
The absurdity of this course knows no bounds. Students are going into debt to take this class, which will provide no skills or knowledge that will get them ahead in the workforce.