Towards a New Sissiography: The Sissy in Body, Abuse and Space in Performance Practice

Messias, Luiz Fernando Fernandes (2011) Towards a New Sissiography: The Sissy in Body, Abuse and Space in Performance Practice. Doctoral thesis, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.


Along with the live performance of Sissy!, the present document constitutes research centred on the figure of the ‘sissy,’ defined in relation to the effeminate homosexual. The practice-based study proposes ‘sissiography’ as an original concept, conceived of as a negotiation between the three elements of body, abuse and space. Bodily traits are investigated under the coin ‘negotiable markers’ to include mannerisms, behaviours and sartorial choices commonly regarded as characteristic of the sissy. Abuse is studied in reference to Butler’s notion of ‘words that wound’ as well as to incidents of hate crime in London. Thirdly, sissy space is analysed in relation to safe and hostile urban zones. The study concludes that the unifying principle at the heart of sissiography is the concept of failure.

In examining the writing of sissiness, the thesis considers existing scholarship on sissies and positions itself against the diagnostic concept of so-called Gender Identity Disorder. The argument developed here is underpinned by autobiographical elements. Historical discourses of male effeminacy are presented to challenge the notion of fixity in perceptions of the sissy.

While offering a written investigation of the concept of sissiography, the study also develops an analysis through the researcher’s body in a series of studio experimentations and live performances. Practice is the central instrument of the enquiry, facilitating the writing of new sissy discourses. A cyclical mode of research leads from practice to theory and back to practice. The sissiography is thereby shown to be a form of inscription on the body, a form of writing space, of writing movement, of reinscribing history, of describing possible sissy futures.


Submitted Version - PDF (Thesis)
Sissy! (2010) - Video (MP4)
Sissy! (2009) - Video (MP4)
Crumbs (2007) - Video (MP4)
In my shoes (2006) - Video (MP4)
Photo gallery - Video (MP4)

Export and Share

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email