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RuPauls Drag Race and Philosophy 

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ISBN 978-0-8126-9478-9


xiv + 240 pages


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RuPaul's Drag Race and Philosophy

Sissy That Thought

Edited by Hendrik Kempt and Megan Volpert
With a Foreword by Kate Bornstein
Volume 129 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

“Listen up: the Library is open, and you should open this book first because it is fierce. These smart, engaging, nuanced, and witty essays command the stage with eye-opening demonstrations of the relation of drag to philosophy. In lucid and compelling writing, the authors show how ideas such as simulacrum, speech-act theory, rationality, utility, game theory, authenticity and performance, being, the sublime, play, radical self-love, and just plain love, are key to the art of living and to the pleasures of drag. It’s a kiki you don’t want to miss.”

—Matthew Tinkcom, Georgetown University, author of Working Like a Homosexual: Camp, Capital, Cinema

 “Cheers to everyone who lent their pen and passion to this project! I’m so proud that people of all ages are being challenged to love the child in their heart through the art form of Drag. Be it a controversial Drag Story Hour or through passionate philosophical arguments, the idea boils down to being kind to ourselves and each other’s differences.”

—Mrs. Kasha Davis, Season Seven, RuPaul’s Drag Race

RuPaul’s Drag Race and Philosophy sashays away from philosophy’s shortcomings. Written by fans, for fans, this book is a practical primer in partially de-cis-ified metaphysics. It’s a deep dive and a slip’n’slide ride through runaway runway metaphors and extravagant thot experiments that give Ru and the rest a run for their money. Funny without trying to one-up the Mother, it’s a fitting tribute to The Mary Tyler Moore Show of the new millennium, a witticism-filled survey of a franchise more game-changing than Maude. Don’t miss the cherry on top (or bottom?—either way, readers win): they doll up iconic pontificators from Confucius to Foucault.”

— Quinlan Miller, University of Oregon, author of Camp TV: Trans Gender Queer Sitcom History

 “From Kempt and Volpert’s outstanding introductory essay to the priceless and hilarious philosopher trading cards that close this collection (Hegel’s drag name? Wine DeVine), the best of the contributions to this volume don’t simply apply philosophy to RuPaul but understand drag performance as intellectual work. Mama Ru would be proud indeed.”

— Amy Villarejo, Cornell University, author of Ethereal Queer: Television, Historicity, Desire

Hendrik Kempt is a Research Associate at the Center for Advanced Studies (FoKoS) at the University of Siegen in Germany and is completing his PhD in moral semantics. He works mainly in applied ethics and AI and has authored articles on moral progress, AI, energy responsibility, and responsible research. Hendrik is currently working on a book about the ethics and social philosophy of chatbots.

Megan Volpert is the author of many books on communication and popular culture, including two Lambda Literary Award finalists. After seven years as a nationally competitive debater, she competed in poetry slams for several more. Her MFA in Creative Writing is from Louisiana State University and she writes regularly for PopMatters. She has been teaching high school English in Atlanta for over a decade and was 2014 Teacher of the Year. She edited the American Library Association-honored anthology This Assignment Is So Gay: LGBTIQ Poets on the Art of Teaching. Megan is co-editor of Tom Petty and Philosophy: We Need to Know (2019).

Foreword author Kate Bornstein, a leading gender theorist, performance artist, and playwright, is the author of A Queer and Pleasant Danger (2012) and Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (2019).

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