Proliferating Panic: Regulating Representations of Sex and Gender during the Culture Wars

Main Article Content

Cristyn Davies


During the culture wars in the United States surveillance of representations of the American citizen reached a particular frenzy. This article explores the moral panic that has accompanied attempts by the New Right to shape and define the American citizen as heterosexual, monogamous, white, and a believer in middle-class family values. Davies focuses on the work of performance artists Karen Finley and Holly Hughes whose work challenges hegemonic discourses of gender and sexuality. They were two of those artists branded by the media as the ‘NEA Four’, practitioners whose work was considered indecent and consequently de-funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The article imagines performance art as a queer time and space; that is, not only does performance art contest normative structures of traditional theatrical performance, so too does it challenge understandings of normative subjects, and the relation of the arts to structures of power.

Article Details

Panic (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Cristyn Davies, University of Western Sydney

 Cristyn Davies is a writer, editor and researcher working with the Narrative, Discourse and Pedagogy research node at the University of Western Sydney while she completes her doctorate at the University of Sydney. Cristyn is editor and curator of trope. Cristyn Davies