Dragging up the Past: Subversive Performance of Gender and Sexual Identities in Traditional and Contemporary Irish Culture

  • Jeannine Woods
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


Woods places contemporary drag performance in Ireland within the historical context of dissident, subversive elements of Irish popular culture. The chapter examines drag performance within the Irish LGBT movement as a performative practice that queers dominant and intersecting discourses on gender, sexuality and national identity while also reinflecting Bakhtin’s conception of the carnivalesque. In exploring traditional wake games, Woods highlights resonances between critical drag performance and aspects of traditional Irish popular culture. The chapter illustrates that—in their re-imagination of social, sexual and gender identities—the traditional Irish wake and contemporary drag practice constitute parallel aspects of Irish popular culture, serving as performative expressions issuing from the margins that destabilise dominant understandings of dominant social, gender and sexual subjectivities.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeannine Woods
    • 1
  1. 1.National University of IrelandGalwayIreland

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