Jones, R. G., Jr., & Vajjala, E. (2018). Trauma, scandal, and murder: The carnival spectacle in Shondaland. In R. A. Griffin & M. D. E. Meyer (Eds.), Adventures in Shondaland: Identity politics and the power of representation, (pp. 23-41). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Murder, cover-ups, torture, election rigging, a penis on a dead girl’s cell phone, a U.S. President killing a Supreme Court Justice with his bare hands, and bodies exploding into pink mist: All of this and more is simply a day’s work in Shondaland for creators, producers, actors, and crew members. In this chapter, we analyze three Shondaland shows– Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder – through Bakhtin’s concept of the carnival. Keeping in mind that the carnival is literally and figuratively characterized by excess, we explore how the carnival tropes – the upheaval of social position, ritual spectacle, and grotesque realism – fuel the carnival cycle of degeneration and regeneration. While the shows in Shondaland are not the only televisual texts in which carnival elements are found, we argue that these tropes are brought to new heights of excess (and hence popularity) through the Shondafication of primetime television. Specifically, we outline the ways in which the fast-paced high drama of the shows, Rhimes’ auteur status, the foregrounding of identity politics and diverse casting, relatable characters in the form of "broken fixers," and the integration of the audience via social media help spur the carnival cycle.
Jones, R. G., Jr. (2015). Queering the body politic: Intersectional reflexivity in the body narratives of queer men. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(9), 766-775. doi: 10.1177/1077800415569782
This essay presents personal narratives co-constructed with queer men regarding their experiences of queerness and maleness. As the narrators chart their journeys toward identifying as queer, they recount incongruity between and within identities, which the author argues creates queer consciousness. Intersectional and reflexive queer consciousness is demonstrated in narratives that recount how critically evaluating identities led the narrators to contest elements of misogyny, effemimania, hypermasculinity, and other discourses and practices that have implications for our bodies. Espousing a queer identification opens up new discursive and material spaces for queer men to critically explore our bodies, while remaining cognizant of and reflexive about the messy and contradictory aspects of queerness.
Jones, R. G., Jr. (2014). Divided loyalties: Exploring the intersections of queerness, race, ethnicity, and gender. In S. C. Howard (Ed.), Critical articulations of race, gender, and sexual orientation (pp. 23-46). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
This chapter explores how espousing a "queer identity" may lead people to have a more critical, intersectional, and reflexive orientation toward culture and identity politics. Drawing upon the personal narratives of queer identifying men, I argue that experiences of incongruency within various identities can lead to the development of a queer consciousness that is inherently intersectional and reflexive and creates spaces of possibility for alliance building. The narratives explore how queer men of color are essentialized, commodified, or ignored in mainstream gay culture, how ethnicity and immigration intersect with familial relationships and the politics of assimilation, and how, for white participants, understanding of whiteness and white privilege problematizes gay rights political discourses that generally do not account for race and privilege.
Jones, R. G., Jr., & Calafell, B. M. (2012). Contesting neoliberalism through critical pedagogy, intersectional reflexivity, and personal narrative: Queer tales of academia. Journal of Homosexuality, 59(7), 957-981. (Special issue titled “Transgressive sexualities and genders in an age of Neoliberalism.”).
In this essay, we use personal narrative to explore allies and alliance building between marginalized people working in and through higher education, with an eye toward interrogating the ways in which ideologies of neoliberalism work to maintain hierarchy through the legitimation of “othering.” Inspired by Conquergood, who calls us as scholars to engage in intimate conversation rather than distanced observation, we offer our embodied experiences as a way to use the personal to reflect upon the cultural, social and political. Our narratives often recount being out of place, moments of incongruence, or our marked Otherness. Through the sharing of these narratives, we will demonstrate the possibility for ally building based in affective connections forged through shared queer consciousness, paying particular attention to the ways in which neoliberal ideologies, such as individualism and postracism, may advance and impede such alliances.
Jones, R. G., Jr. (2010). Putting privilege into practice through “intersectional reflexivity”: Ruminations, interventions, and possibilities. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 16(1), 122-125.
This article explores, through personal narrative, how privilege and power operate within and among intersecting identities. Intersectional reflexivity is explored as an option for caputuring the complexity of culture and identity.
Jones, R. G., Jr. (2009). Queering marriage and family in the 2006 Colorado election. In K. M. German & B. E. Drushel (Eds.), Queer identities, political realities (pp. 59-79). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press.
During the 2006 election, Colorado joined the national “gay marriage” debate. In November, Coloradans faced two ballot measures: Referendum I granting domestic partner status and benefits to “same sex” couples and Amendment 43 defining recognized marriage as a “union of one man and one woman” (Legislative Council 2006). Amendment 43 passed with 56% of the vote; Referendum I failed by garnering 47% of the vote (Simpson 2006b). Prior to the election, “gay rights” groups and “family values” groups faced off; generating media and popular discourses surrounding the issue (Simpson 2006a). This essay employs a queer/critical theoretical lens to examine the discourses framing “both sides” of the gay marriage debate. Using critical discourse analysis (CDA), I will examine the assumptions within key texts produced by the Colorado General Assembly that summarize and analyze Referendum I and Amendment 43 and then discuss how those assumptions connect to value systems, discourses, and ideologies. While the political regulation of identities is not new, the identity politics communicated by “gay rights” opponents and proponents have become prominent issues in recent local and national elections. By taking a queer/critical lens, I move beyond reasoning based on individual or civil rights to critique marriage and family more generally. This shift in focus allows us to examine overarching ideologies that inform views on what committed relationships are and should be.
Jones, R. G., Jr., & Foust, C. R. (2008). Staging and enforcing consumerism in the city: The performance of othering on the 16th Street Mall. Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, 4(1).
This essay combines literature on gentrification and neo-liberalism within a framework that examines how consumerism is constituted performatively within and by an urban redevelopment area in downtown Denver, Colorado. Through participant-observations and reflexive personal narratives, we consider how the popular 16th Street Mall becomes a stage for diverse performances of consumerism, particularly vis-à-vis the presence of non-consumer others. Though there are other possible identity performances for this space—most notably carried out by the homeless, transients, and buskers who also traverse The Mall—our analysis suggests that liberal capitalist ideologies threaten to erase or subsume non-consumer subjectivities. By ignoring non-consumer others, registering complaints about them, or regarding them with pity, consumers perpetuate neo-liberal ideologies.
Jones, R. G., Jr. (2007). Drag queens, drama queens, and friends: Drama and performance as a solidarity building function in a gay male friendship circle. Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication Research, 6, 61-84.
To date, scholarly research has been conducted on gay communities, language and performance within certain communities, and gay male friendships. However, scholarly synthesis of these concepts is uncommon. The following essay asks: How are performance and communication used to build and maintain solidarity in the gay male friendship circle being studied? The multi-faceted conceptual framework includes the shared repertoire dimension of a community of practice, friendship as method, and criteria for determining performance and solidarity building strategies as communicative actions. Using friendship as method, data gathered through participant observation of a small gay male friendship circle are analyzed and discussed in terms of the guiding research question. Conclusions are drawn to show that dramatic and performative communication is an important solidarity building function in the gay male friendship community being studied.