The History and Theory of Camp

  • Katrin Horn


This chapter offers a historical overview of how camp has evolved from a primarily private code of secret communication to a deconstructive method of cultural critique. It traces theories of camp from Isherwood and Sontag’s early reflections, via concepts of “mass camp” and pop art, to studies rooted in contemporary queer theory. Based on this framework, the chapter offers its own original definition of camp as a mode of “detached attachment.” Emphasizing camp’s communal dimensions, it builds on Hutcheon’s discursive communities of ironic exchanges and connects them with Sedgwick’s notion of “camp-recognition” as a shared “perverse” angle. The chapter also provides a differentiated understanding of the terms queer, lesbian, and feminist camp, which clearly distinguishes between camp’s variable media contexts and its durable politics.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American StudiesFAU Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany

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