New AHRC research project explores burlesque club culture and costume

Dr Jacki Willson and Professor Alice O’Grady have secured £600k worth of funding for Fabulous Femininities: Extravagant Costume and Transformative Thresholds.

The 3-year research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will seek to understand the way that resistant feminine identities are performed by burlesque club-goers via specific DIY approaches to costume.

The ethnographic study will focus on a range of participants who identify as women (biologically born women and male to female transsexual woman) in order to document, understand and theorize the transformative threshold between the everyday self and the extravagant spectacle. The project will explore this transformative element of costume in order to understand the way costume performs and politicizes alternative embodied versions of ‘womanhood’. The objective of the research is to develop a new critical framework for understanding costume as an embodied performative and political tool. This will be developed by way of interviews, focus groups, a digital archive and a symposium.

Dr Jacki Willson, who will lead the project as Principal Investigator said “I am over the moon that a project exploring such an underrepresented subcultural community and its costume practices has been validated by the AHRC and can't wait to get started.”

Professor of Applied Theatre, Alice O’Grady will join Dr Willson as Co-investigator on the project. 

Find out more about research projects in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries.

Image: Unsplash by Steven Peice