Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type

Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

English

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Devon Ralston

Committee Member

Dr. Dustin M. Hoffman

Committee Member

Dr. Siobahn Craft Brownson

Abstract

Pierre Bourdieu defines habitus as “the ability to produce classifiable practices and works, and the capacity to differentiate and appreciate these practices and products (taste), that the represented social world, i.e., the space of life-styles, is constituted” (170). In other words, habitus is the combination of our habits, perceptions, and presentations that are formed from the ingrained ideas of our society. Our habitus is both performed and perceived, and in this way, we gain cultural capital, which is the curating of knowledge, skills, and behaviors which demonstrate our value. Habitus is deeply affected by our position in society, particularly class. However, habitus can be applied to other cultural markers such as race and sexuality. I posit that, if one’s habitus can be formed from mainstream culture, then it stands to reason that another’s habitus can be formed around counter-culture, and it would be a much more intentional formation of identity. The Queer community has inherently formed its identity around the destruction of dominant social contructs. The idea of a “queer habitus” formed as an expression of protest in itself turns habitus on its head. Habitus is formed as a way to gain cultural capital and therefore upholds social systems of oppression. However, if queer habitus is formed around the inherent desire to deconstruct these social systems of opression, then habitus in itself becomes a form of prostest rather than conformity. With this in mind, my research question for this thesis is how do language, performance, and identity interact to form queer habitus in a community inherently based in protest?

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