Transgressive Gender Performance: An Act of Personal and Cultural Transformation

Heckel, John (2013) Transgressive Gender Performance: An Act of Personal and Cultural Transformation. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.


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This study posed the Research Problem: What subjective states and transformative effects arise when transgressive gender performances are imagined, enacted, and witnessed? The hypothesis stated: imagining, enacting, and witnessing transgressive gender performances may suspend the imaginal structures associated with polarized gender identity. Imaginal Transformation Praxis served as the theory-in practice for this study. The literature review engages and considers sources drawn from across a wide array of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, performance studies, and anthropology. The literature reveals a lack of research focusing on the transformative effects of volitional transgressive gender performances. The methodology, Imaginal Inquiry, exposed participants to experiences that were evocative, expressive, interpretive, and integrative. The primary experience studied was the transformative effects and subjective states that arise when transgressive gender performances are imagined, enacted, and witnessed. v The Cumulative Learning proposes that volitional transgressive gender performances, as viable polarized gender identity interventions, generate the psychic movement necessary to imagine and enact transformative alternative gender identities. Learning One proposes that performance allows us to imagine and observe ourselves and others within the realm of possibility. Performance is an engagement that moves us beyond what is actual and present, into contact with the possible, and when this is embodied, performance brings the possible home. Learning Two proposes that volitional gender performances can bring into awareness the friend and the gatekeeper, and the role they play in transforming the adaptive identity that is gender. Learning Three claims that volitional gender performances, with an engaged and non-critical observing I, question the origins and then expose the imaginal structures that serve as the scripts for our gender identities. Learning Four suggests that volitional transgressive gender performances can momentarily suspend the imaginal structures and dichotomous thinking of our polarized gender identities, facilitating a state of “not-knowing.” This state of “not-knowing” portends a momentary collapse of adaptive identity and may facilitate a shift into participatory consciousness. The mythic context for this inquiry was grounded by the figure of Tiresias, the blind prophet of Thebes. The transformation of polarized gender identities facilitated by participatory consciousness could have a significant impact on gender relations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: John Heckel
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2017 18:57
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2017 18:57

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