Notes: Alyssa Samek & Theresa Donofrio, “‘Academic Drag’ and the Performance of the Critical Personae: An Exchange on Sexuality, Politics, and Identity in the Academy”

Samek, Alyssa A. & Theresa A. Donofrio. (2013). “Academic drag” and the performance of the critical personae: An exchange on sexuality, politics, and identity in the academy. Women’s Studies in Communication, 36(1), 28-55.


Samek and Donofrio critique queerness’s containment within academic spaces and link this to professionalization in academe.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Rhetoric, Rhetoric, Communication


“[W]e became alarmed by the ease with which the queer project could be included in graduate classrooms and disciplinary conversations while attenuated by other academic practices. We were troubled by what we would later come to discuss as the containment of the queer project under the auspices of the maintenance of ‘professorial identities'” (p. 29).

“In practice, the demands of professionalism short-circuit our ability to engage the queer project, effectively weakening the transformative possibilities of queer rhetoric and scholarship by seemingly including such discourses= works=voices while simultaneously containing them” (p. 29).

“Part and parcel of our academic socialization into the professoriat, our notions of invention and expression are shaped to comply with the standards of the profession. Yet the ideology of professionalism that circulates within rhetorical criticism insidiously blinds critics and students of criticism from their own invention practices” (p. 30).

“Obscuring the process of doing rhetorical criticism creates a troubling epistemological gap between the choices made during invention or revision and the final published product, especially for students learning how to produce professional scholarship” (p. 30).

“First, graduate classrooms should be spaces where we critique and not merely imbibe the ideologies of professionalism. Professionalization is a critical part of graduate education…. Yet such courses should not only teach professionalism; we ought to hold professionalism itself up as an object for critique” (p. 46).

“[W]e want to draw attention to and caution against modes of containing queer politics through pedagogical practices within graduate communication classrooms. We are concerned when queer rhetorical studies is deemed pertinent to scholarly conversation only if critics analyze discourse by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer rhetors” (p. 47).

“Containment can also occur when instructors position queer rhetorical studies as a ‘method’ or ‘lens’ akin to narrative, genre, or fantasy theme analysis. This framing positions the choice to ignore queer scholarship as one of inventional preference” (p. 47).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s