Verta Taylor and Leila J. Rupp Taylor and Rupp discuss their experiences studying drag queens, and explain how they moved beyond theory to understand embodied accounts of their research. They speak to the political nature of drag shows, and share vivid details of how drag queens push the boundaries of respectability for themselves and their audiences. Taylor and Rupp credit their dynamic research process, which spans 30 years, to the commitment that they bring to their studies and to each other
Our fi rst collaboration, which blossomed along with our relationship in the late 1970s, came about because Leila was starting a study of the U.S. women’s movement in the 1950s and, when she met Verta, she learned that Verta was an experienced interviewer from her days as director of the Disaster Research Center at Ohio State. Leila was an avid archival researcher but had never done any interviewing (or “oral history” as historians call it), and she knew that
it would be important to combine interview data with archival research for this project because she set out to examine the persistence of women’s movements in a period when scholars and the general public assumed there was no organized women’s movement. Other than the diff erences in methods, and the diff erent approach to theory in history and sociology (history not having to employ theory in any systematic way), we fi nd that our approaches are very compatible. Verta brings social movement theory to our collaborative projects, and Leila has even used Verta’s collective identity framework to organize her sole-authored analysis of the transnational women’s movement, Worlds of Women (Rupp 1997). Perhaps the only ways in which our diff erences ever get in the way is in choice of language: sociologists have to be very precise (e.g., transnational vs. international), while historians have the fl exibility both to avoid jargon and sometimes to use terms such as transnational and international interchangeably in the interest of avoiding numbing repetition. But mostly we fi nd that we think along the same lines and write very compatibly. In fact, Verta likes to say that throughout our 30 years together if we have hit a patch when we are not getting along as well as usual, writing something together makes everything better.