Fugitive intimacies : the unsettling vows of queer wedlock performance

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Notarizing intimate relationships through performance techniques is an ancient tradition in the west, yet marriage initiation rituals in modernity are often considered sentimental matters, rarely examined critically as potent cultural choreographies of social belonging. This dissertation examines instances of "queer wedlock performance, " a term referencing not necessarily the union of sexual minorities, but rather those ceremonies and pseudo-ceremonies indexing intimate affiliations that diverge from the regulated expectations of civilized modern adulthood. This project traces a constellation of queer wedlock performances in various media: fictional oaths exchanged onstage in early modern England, extra-legal vows uttered in pursuit of same-sex marriage rights, acts of constrained consent in the writings of 19th century Black women, and the durational coexistence experiments of contemporary live artists. Through the deployment of "un/binding vows, " these diverse promises may fail to secure full legitimacy within extant systems of power, yet they succeed in other dimensions. The un/binding vows of queer wedlock performance function to unsettle norms governing kinship, rendering visible the imperialist inheritances of the marriage institution and the material inequities it maintains. Un/binding vows generate fugitive intimacies that can enable escape from coercive situations. Pursuit of such intimacies is a form of embodied ethico-aesthetic research in which gendered and racialized inheritances structuring relationality can be reworked. Close readings of the ephemera of fugitive intimacies reveal vibrant, temporary, heterogeneous assemblages urging the abandonment of established social hierarchies and offering alternatives to the givenness of love as a teleological project.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2016
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Fairfield, Joy Brooke
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Theater and Performance Studies.
Primary advisor Phelan, Peggy
Thesis advisor Phelan, Peggy
Thesis advisor Brody, Jennifer DeVere
Thesis advisor Jakovljević, Branislav
Advisor Brody, Jennifer DeVere
Advisor Jakovljević, Branislav


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Joy Brooke Fairfield.
Note Submitted to the Department of Theater and Performance Studies.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2016 by Joy Brooke Fairfield
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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