On Diva Worship: Trans Femininity and Gay Life

Date / Time

March 14, 2024

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

The Institute for the Humanities Queer and Trans Studies Working Group presents, “On Diva Worship: Trans Femininity and Gay Life,” with Eva Pensis.

This experimental writing takes the form of an essay that begins with the question: How is it that trans feminine performance, vis-a-vis drag, has come to epitomize gay (queer) cultural production with little to no reference to it as such? Throughout, Pensis seeks other ways of witnessing and approaching trans feminine performance and its foundational role in gay and queer cultural production. Focusing on transsexual and trans femme entertainers, Pensis returns to one of gay/queer subject formation’s most hallowed scenes, that of diva worship, and open up space to ask what else might be said of trans femme performance and its embodied archive of lipsyncing?

Pensis is a multidisciplinary artist and scholar whose work explores the contours and legacies of trans femme life and art within popular culture, nightlife economies, entertainment and performance industries. Pensis is a pole instructor, artist, pianist and community archivist. She holds a PhD in Music (ethnomusicology) and in theater and performance studies from the University of Chicago as well as a BM in piano performance from University of Southern California. She is currently the postdoctoral fellow with the Trans Oral History Project at the University of Pennsylvania.

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