Defying gravity: queering the witches of Oz

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University of Alabama Libraries

The American theater has long been a venue for social commentary. From shows like South Pacific and Rent to Bye, Bye, Birdie and Hair, stage productions have made significant contributions to the discussions and understandings of American experiences, the ways in which people struggle through their hardships, and the relationships that publics develop throughout their lives. In particular, the American theater opens a discursive space for sexuality. The musical Wicked is and continues to be one of the most popular productions of the past decade as it holds strong in his home at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City and sells out touring locations across America and internationally, earning over one million dollars per week. This study, using the musical Wicked as a fragmented text and ideological cluster criticism as a rhetorical lens, first establishes a queer romantic storyline between Glinda the Good and Elphaba, who later becomes The Wicked Witch of the West. Then, in response to the driving research query, how does passing function within the musical Wicked, this project accesses traditional and ambiguous strategies of passing to understand the construction and maintenance of Glinda's heterosexual passing identity before providing some implications for rhetorical criticism and examinations of culture.

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Communication, Rhetoric