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Director of YU’s Centre for Teaching Excellence and Innovation Wins Lavender Rhetorics Award

Tommy Mayberry

Tommy Mayberry, the Director of Yorkville University and Toronto Film School’s Centre for Teaching Excellence and Innovation, was recently awarded with the 2024 Lavender Rhetorics Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship.

Presented annually by the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the award honours four works (one book, one book chapter or article, one dissertation and one non-traditional scholarly work) that “best make queer interventions into the study of composition and rhetoric.”     

“I am incredibly honoured to be a recipient of this year’s 2024 CCCC Lavender Rhetorics Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship and am so deeply humbled…and this queen doesn’t humble easily!” said Mayberry, who received the award at the CCCC 2024 Convention in Spokane, Washington on April 5. 

Tommy Mayberry

Mayberry was recognized with the Lavender Rhetorics Award for their book chapter, ‘Teaching Can Be a Real Drag (Show); Or, Move over, Sage! That Stage Is Mine’, which was published in December 2022 in the collection Visual Pedagogies: Concepts, Cases and Practices. You can access the chapter on the Yorkville University digital stacks here.

The research in Mayberry’s award-winning chapter explores visual pedagogies through a sincere and earnest look at Mayberry’s life as an academic drag queen – one that is congruent of academic and drag cultures, of traditional teaching and of dragged-up pedagogies.

Tommy Mayberry

“I’ve been doing drag academically – as this chapter actually outlines and explores – since my early grad school days, and this pedagogical intervention of mine has been something I’ve been researching, reflecting on, and developing since I started teaching in post-secondary education,” they said.

‘Teaching Can Be a Real Drag (Show)’ reflects on personal stories and anecdotes from Mayberry’s classrooms, and even their audition tape for the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race – bringing together a constellation of frameworks, theories, and ideas from transgender visuality, queer phenomenology, and visual performance as they position themself as a social justice leader with an anti-imperialist inclusive pedagogy and practice.

Mayberry recently shared insights from their work during Yorkville’s CTEI SoTL Speaker Series, the recording of which is now available here: ‘Visual Pedagogies: Teaching Can Be a Real Drag (Show)’.

The Lavender Rhetorics Award’s selection committee lauded Mayberry for their use of transmodalities, visual rhetorics and embodied knowledge of their own experience with drag “to offer new insights into visual rhetorical pedagogies and practices.” 

“In an era where drag performance is increasingly commonplace, Mayberry’s scholarship reminds us of the pleasures of performance and the value of placing embodied, visual rhetorics meaningfully into our learning spaces,” the selection committee noted. 

In their acceptance speech for the Lavendar Rhetorics Award, Mayberry thanked Dr. Seth DavisTimothy Oleksiak, and the Lavender Rhetorics Award Committee for their “deep and caring reading of all the queer scholarship that came their way.”

They also thanked the editors of Visual Pedagogies for including their chapter in the book – in particular Carolina Cambre “for their careful and caring feedback, guidance, and love throughout the publishing process.”

Lastly, Mayberry thanked their partner, Tommy Bourque, “for always loving me, in and out of drag, as the whole person I am and keep becoming” and their birth mom, who, they noted, is also their drag mom.  

“She first put me in drag nearly 30 years ago when I was seven years old. She listened to, believed, protected, and loved this queer and trans little kid I was back then and saw who I could become – and I am still here today because of that,” they said. 

“So, this award is actually for all the queer, trans, and nonbinary youth today who we must likewise listen to, believe, protect, and love so that they will have fabulous, beautiful, life-giving futures, too.”

In addition to accepting the Lavender Rhetorics Award, Mayberry also presented at the 2024 CCCC Annual Convention in Spokane earlier this month, speaking on and chairing the panel Critically Racing Anti-Racist Rhetorics in Abundantly White(ly) Classrooms.

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