Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington, USA
Bio: Stevi Costa earned her PhD in English from the University of Washington in 2016. She specializes in 19th and 20th century American literature as seen through the lenses of feminism, queer theory and disability studies. Her work articulates theories of embodiment across narratives of bodily difference in both the literary and performing arts and combines disciplinary approaches from literary theory, cultural studies and performance studies.
Title: Neo-Sideshow and The Other: The Limits of Freaktopia
Abstract: This presentation examines the adoption of otherness in the neo-sideshow movement and neo-sideshow narratives, and questions the utility of voluntary “enfreakment” in the making of a “freaktopia.” Does voluntary enfreakment of generally white, cisgender, and masculine subjects illustrate a greater alignment with practices of access, inclusion, and bodily diversity? Or does the voluntary enfreakment of neo-sideshow performance co-opt and appropriate spaces and practices that once belonged to historically marginalized bodies? By reading memoirs of neo-sideshow practitioners like Jim Rose, and examining the performance practices of neo-sideshows in the United States, this formal research presentation aims to illuminate the way the genre troubles and transforms otherness for its own ends, and questions whether “freaktopia” is at all possible.