UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The curious case of the Turkish drag queen: film and social justice education in advanced German Frackman, Kyle


[In this essay, I will discuss my inclusion of Kutluğ Ataman’s film, Lola und Bilidikid (1999), in an advanced German conversation and composition or stylistics course on “Mysteries and Crime Stories” at a large, public university. Part of this will be an assessment of the pedagogical approaches used in class, the outside work related to this film, and the students’ reactions to this complicated cultural product. The topic of the course in which I featured this film changes each semester but maintains a focus on refinement of the students’ oral and written expression in German. The narrative of Ataman’s film treats the experience of Lola, a Turkish- German drag performer, whose surprisingly limited appearances—and eventual death—in the film’s action nonetheless structure the other characters’ behavior. Lola und Bilidikid offers a chance for students of German Studies to examine such contemporary issues as immigration, xenophobia, homophobia, prostitution, and the nation as well as categories of identity like gender, sexuality, race, class, and health. In what follows, I will briefly examine some feminist and queer pedagogical theories relevant to my course design and describe the course itself and my use of cultural products in it. I will argue that language instruction offers a prime opportunity to discuss otherness and identity, both in the target culture and in the students’ own experiences, and that Ataman’s film is a useful tool for reaching this goal.]

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