The Story of the Attitude that Conquered the World
Paul Baker

By the bestselling author of Fabulosa! and Outrageous!, this reappraisal of camp across time and in all its glorious forms shows how an inescapable part of popular culture has also been an important form of protest and resistance.

Fabulously unrestrained and ever-evolving, camp has captured the cultural imagination for at least 150 years. The term possibly derives from the French se camper, meaning to pose in a bold, provocative or exaggerated fashion. Frequently used to define or deride young heterosexual men, the upper classes, Black people, older women and gay men, camp has also played a key role in equality movements.

Paul Baker’s highly anticipated reappraisal of camp surveys its touchstones across history and the changing ways that it has been understood. He traces the history of camp from the courts of Louis XIV and trials of Oscar Wilde to the archetypical dandy Beau Brummell and the celebrated playwright Noel Coward; from The Valley of the Dolls, Harlem’s drag balls and Brazilian telenovelas through to the modern day divas of Donna Summer, Madonna and Britney Spears.

Celebrating camp as an aesthetic, a sensibility and a way of life, this essential dive into an often-derided phenomenon, shows how camp has been a place of refuge and renewal, of heroism and hedonism, and how it is more powerful than ever.

About the author

Paul Baker is a Professor of English Language at Lancaster University and has written over twenty books, for both academic and popular audiences. These include Fabulosa: The Story of Polari and Outrageous! The Story of Section 28 and the Battle for LGBT Education. Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.