The Internet of Bawdies: Transmedial drag and the onlining of trans-feminist and queer performance archives, a workshop essay

T. L. Cowan

Abstract


Like the practices of drag itself, this workshop essay has been produced in and with community, geared towards many audiences and reliant on the expertise and creative intelligence of these communities and audiences. The Internet of Bawdies is the Internet of too much body. My working description of the Internet of Bawdies is, the (forced) digitization and onlining (publication, connectivity, searchability) of previously non-digital/not-onlined (Cowan & Rault 2018) ephemera of trans- feminist and queer (TFQ) community-based expressive cultures, including but not limited to drag, burlesque, kink shows, porn and erotica across medium, spoken word, slam and other text-based performance forms, and cabaret, whether is explicitly sexual or not, as well as the internet of sex work and other modes of consentual, adult online embodiment that exceed, transgress, resist or transform heteronormative, monogamous, reproductive bodies. While there are many sexes, genders and orientations in the Internet of Bawdies, here I focus on the ethics of TFQ digitization in this context. “Transmedial drag” is what I have identified as a method of study, knowledge production and citational practice developed on/in/of/with the Internet of Bawdies in mind. Transmedial drag are the processes involved in moving across media/mediums (for example: from live performance, to video documentation, to digital archive to online platform), which creates a sort of pastiche of the ‘original,’ denaturalizing its status as ‘originary’ and teaching us something new about the excesses and limitations of each media form. In particular, transmedial drag is a method for ethical engagements that researchers working with TFQ in the online environment, especially re-mediating materials to an online environment, might find they are already doing. There is a story in the moving across media, and transmedial drag is set of practices to tell those stories.


Keywords


Internet of Bawdies; Internet of Bodies; Transmedial Drag; Technologies of Fabulous; Queer Performance Studies; Digital Research Ethics; Digital Archives; Queer Ethics; Precarity; Digital Humanities

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v23i7.9256



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