Contemporary Contexts: Decadence Today and Tomorrow

Condé, Alice. 2021. Contemporary Contexts: Decadence Today and Tomorrow. In: Jane H. Desmarais and David Weir, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Decadence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190066956 [Book Section]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

Decadence is manifest most strongly at moments of unease about sociohistorical transition and relates to extremes of taste, passing into the realms of the distasteful or the extravagant. The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula (2016–) uses the format of the reality TV drag competition popularized by RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009–) to unite contestants of different gender identities and sexual orientations under the credo of “drag, filth, horror, glamour,” showcasing decadent performances that deliberately confront conventional standards of taste while simultaneously promoting ideals of compassion and self-acceptance among marginalized figures in an increasingly conservative political climate. The concept of decadence is most potent when its double meaning (negative moral judgment, unconventional culture) is most clear and its use in right-wing political rhetoric is confronted by those performing the aesthetics of bodily excess in rebellion against those in power. Today’s socially conscious decadents are artists, not agents, of social decline.

Item Type:

Book Section

Identification Number (DOI):


degeneration, drag, Dragula, excess, opulence, queerness, RuPaul’s Drag Race, subculture

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature
English and Comparative Literature > Decadence Research Unit


October 2021Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

15 Oct 2021 14:13

Last Modified:

15 Oct 2021 14:13


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)