Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation offers an outlined proposal and a model for practicing queer oral history—a nuancing of oral history praxis. Queer oral history is rooted in performance studies’ call to consider everyday texts alongside Dwight Conquergood’s (1985) articulations of ethical and dialogic performance of the other. I propose that queer oral history exists as an alternative praxis to traditional oral history; in order for this distinction to emerge, a practitioner must accept two charges. The first is a commitment to destabilizing oral history through the inclusion of other diverse methodological practices. Further, the researcher must welcome the ethical imperative to reflexively question subjectivity through their own role in constructing an oral history. Queer oral history demands of its practitioners a different set of goals that grow from traditional oral history, but also carefully complicate the practice of oral history as a methodology in order to address the in-between role of the subject-researcher. This placement within the gaps—the in-between—renders queer oral history theoretically queer, opening up possibilities beyond simply an oral history about queer themes. Because of its focus on commitments as a way to lead practice, queer oral history could prove useful for other person-based qualitative research methods. In order to propose queer oral history, this document traces one specific performance—Bless Our Hearts: An Oral History of the Queer South—from intellectual inception through scripting, staging, performance, and reperformance. Offering theoretical precepts, a completed script, and deep discussions of choices in scripting and embodiment, this dissertation offers a model that shows one queer oral history—about the intersections of queer and Southern identities—as it moves from interview process to complete performance project.
This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.