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Notre Dame professor doesn’t see ‘any conflict’ with drag programs and university mission

University departments have previously hosted ‘abortion doula’

A University of Notre Dame professor who teaches a course on drag shows does not see “any conflict” with the material and the university’s Catholic mission.

“Notre Dame is an institute of higher learning engaged in intellectual inquiry,” Professor Pamela Wojcik told The College Fix via email. “I don’t see any conflict with the university mission or culture in the course. I believe our students have the right to consider truths about all topics.”

She chairs the film, television and theatre department at Notre Dame, which plans to host a drag show on Nov. 3. It’s part of a symposium on “efforts to ban drag,” according to comments the professor made to a conservative student publication on campus.

The event comes as part of a class assignment for Wojcik’s course, “What a Drag: Drag on Screen – Variations and Meanings.”

“The course looks at many different uses of drag on screen,” Wojcik told The Fix via email. She referred to films such as “Tootsie,” “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” “Diary of a Mad Black Women” and “Victor/Victoria.”

“As the course title suggests we are considering different meanings and uses of drag. Some are gay drag, some are straight drag, some are women, some men, some Black drag and some white,” the professor said.

She said students are not “instructed” or required to take it but that she is offering the course because drag has a long history in all three areas of her department — film, TV, and theater.

In the course description, students are required to “read essays on drag, write weekly reflections, attend class discussions, and attend weekly screenings, as well as a symposium on drag and performance.”

“It is a vital art form that has existed at least since Greek theater, through Shakespearean theater,” Wojcik said. “There are currently claims about drag that seem ahistorical and confused about what it is. So I thought it would be helpful to have an informed, respectful conversation about it.”

MORE: Princeton drag show celebrates masturbation, abortion

The claim Shakespeare’s plays included drag has been criticized by former Emory University English Professor Mark Bauerlein.

The drag show will have four co-sponsors: the gender studies department, the music department, the American Studies department and the Initiative on Race and Resilience.

None of the four departments who are co-sponsoring the event responded to a request for comment about how their department plays a role in both the symposium and drag performance.

The university also did not respond to a request for comment on the event.

Wojcik told the conservative Notre Dame paper The Irish Rover that she hopes to “give students knowledge about an art form that has been misdescribed.”

“Drag won’t turn kids gay” she also told the student newspaper. She said it is “dangerous to put bans [on drag].”

The event has drawn criticism from the leader of a Notre Dame alumni group that seeks to keep the university faithful to its Catholic mission.

Sycamore Trust Chairman Bill Dempsey referred The Fix to a recent bulletin his group put out which stated Notre Dame has “fallen out-of-step with the Catholic Church,” through its support of Pride Month back in June to the hosting of this drag show event in November.

“It becomes ever more difficult for Notre Dame to realize Father Hesburgh’s purpose that it be ‘a place where the Church can do its thinking,’” Dempsey wrote in an email sent to the Sycamore Trust.

It has become more difficult due to there being “so much enthusiasm for those who act against its most basic teaching on sex, gender, and marriage.”

A Notre Dame priest, who is also the vice president of student affairs, previously released a video that appeared to endorsed LGBT relationships, as reported by The College Fix.

“I just want to exist and have a healthy and fun relationship, just like everyone else here at Notre Dame, straight or otherwise,” a bisexual female student says in the video released last year.

The university also recently allowed an “abortion doula” event to happen on campus, drawing a rebuke from the local bishop, who called it “intellectually unserious.”

MORE: Clemson students protest for return of tampons in men’s bathrooms

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Elaine Gunthorpe is a student at Christendom College where she is studying political science and economics. Elaine is involved with the Christendom College Republicans, Network of Enlightened Women, and Shield of Roses. She also writes as a Campus Correspondent with Campus Reform.