Screeving Queens: The Queer Rhetorical Practices of Polari Speakers
Mentor: Trish Fancher
“Screeving Queens: The Queer Rhetorical Practices of Polari Speakers” focuses on the “secret gay language” of Polari, a rich lexicon of slang used primarily in England by working-class queer men. Known near-exclusively to those immersed in what we would now call the LGBTQ community, the “language” (perhaps better characterized as an anti-language or language variant) was both a means of connection and a convenient vehicle for secret communication in an era when it was illegal to be openly gay. Polari accompanied and served a complex system of sexual negotiation and gendered performance. Using archival materials from Polari’s heyday (the 1950s to the 1970s), this research will examine how the language functioned as a means of building community, how its speakers established and performed identity through its use, and how it served as a mechanism for the disruption of heteronormative modes of verbal and written expression. Results will be presented in a formal research paper and submitted for publication in an academic research journal.