2012 Student Research Conference:
25th Annual Student Research Conference

"It's Hard Being a Loving Mother": John Waters and the Carnival of Motherhood
Corinne E. Schwarz
Dr. Linda Seidel, Faculty Mentor

In John Waters's films Female Trouble (1974) and Pink Flamingos (1972), the drag queen Divine stars as the lead anti-heroine, wreaking havoc in Baltimore through her character's obsessions with crime and filth, respectively. Though these films exist in the sphere of cult cinema, the characters and scenarios of Baltimore folk culture align perfectly with Mikhail Bahktin's analysis of medieval French folk narratives found in Rabelais and His World (1965). Bahktin's concepts of the carnivalesque (a reversal of normative power structures) and the grotesque body (a figure expanding beyond normative constraints) will be applied to Divine's roles in each film. By applying a Bakhtinian lens to the cult, camp films of Waters, this paper hopes to reveal how this fairly canonical literary theory can be expanded to analyze the low art of certain cinematic genres, blurring the line between the distinctions of what is worthy to analyze in academia.

Keywords: John Waters, camp, drag queens, Bahktin, carnivalesque, grotesque body

Topic(s):Women's and Gender Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 106-1
Location: VH 1228
Time: 8:00

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