The Category Is . . . Opulence!

Performing Black Queer History in Baltimore’s “Cathedral of Books”


  • Joseph Plaster



In recent years there has been a strong “public turn” within universities that is renewing interest in collaborative approaches to knowledge creation. This article draws on performance studies literature to explore the cross-disciplinary collaborations made possible when the academy broadens our scope of inquiry to include knowledge produced through performance. It takes as a case study the “Peabody Ballroom Experience,” an ongoing collaboration between the Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries, the Peabody Institute BFA Dance program, and Baltimore’s ballroom community—a performance-based arts culture comprising gay, lesbian, queer, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people of color.