Making the Grade in the New Millennium

Karen W. Tice

in Queens of Academe

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199842780
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933440 | DOI:
Making the Grade in the New Millennium

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This chapter explores the contemporary world of campus pageantry across diverse university contexts and examines the discourses of primarily white contestants and organizers as they attempt to accommodate and negotiate celebrity, corporeality, and the cerebral. Topics include the staging of pageants, the campus activities of various queens, the legitimations participants give for participating in pageants, and their arguments for why they see pageants as more than a vacuous world of sprays, gels, and silicone artifice. Today’s contestants often rely on post-feminist and “girl-power” discourses of choice and personal empowerment as well as neo-liberal discourses of self-enterprise to assert the academic relevance of beauty competition. This chapter also highlights a recent protracted struggle between feminists and post-feminists about a multi-university beauty pageant covered extensively in the mainstream media. The recent surge of male pageants showcasing racialized masculinities in a venue originally created for the display of women’s bodies is also profiled.

Keywords: pageant platforming; campus activities; post-feminism; girl-power; neo-liberalism; self-enterprise; personal empowerment; legitimation; racialized masculinity

Chapter.  15584 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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