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If we're mocking anything, it's organized religion: The queer holy fool style of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Asking questions in and about the often rough terrain at the intersection of sexuality/gender and religion/spirituality, this dissertation seeks to excavate the concept of queer holy fool style as a fitting response to dominant Judeo-Christian narratives that marginalize LGBTQ individuals. To do so, I utilize the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), a drag performing community of “21st Century Nuns,” as a synechdoche; pulling examples of their communication and performances as evidence of queer holy fool style. In exploring three facets of stylistic study (embodied, textual/hypertextual, and sociological), I blend queer theoretical concepts (like camp, performativity, and disciplining) with rhetorical methodological frameworks (such as Burke’s  four master tropes and parody). At the end of the analysis, I uncover counter narratives within the SPI’s communication featuring themes of sexual freedom, spirituality, and safety in coalescence. Throughout the dissertation, I continually ask questions regarding queer holy fool style—some I answer, others I do not—as an attempt to engage the reader with the work. In this way, I perform the playful, yet disruptive nature of queer theoretical work. I conclude with suggestions to extend the study of queer holy fool style; primarily, the inclusion of oral histories to identify intricacies within the style as well as an autoethnographic approach that would track the creation of an individual’s performance of the style.
Communication|LGBTQ studies|Performing Arts|Rhetoric|Gender studies
Ivey, Christina L, "If we're mocking anything, it's organized religion: The queer holy fool style of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" (2016). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI10128765.