Cover: Inside Killjoy's Kastle: Dykey Ghosts, Feminist Monsters, and Other Lesbian Hauntings. edited by Allyson Mitchell and Cait McKinney. photo: a side-angle view of winding multi-coloured neon lines on a purple brick wall.
280 pages, 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
80 colour photos, 17 b&w photos, 3 colour inserts
Release Date:15 Sep 2019
Release Date:15 Sep 2019

Inside Killjoy’s Kastle

Dykey Ghosts, Feminist Monsters, and Other Lesbian Hauntings

UBC Press

Hundreds of years of ridicule, persecution, erasure, misunderstanding, and institutionalization could put anyone in a bad mood. Killjoy invites you into her kastle for a queer exorcism and celebration of the past.

Lesbian feminist histories can have a haunting effect on the present. This book explores the making and experience of Killjoy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House, an immersive walk-through installation and performance artwork (by Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue) that materializes the frightfully acrimonious past for today. Inspired by Evangelical Christian hell houses, the exhibition has been staged in four cities so far – Toronto, London, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia – inviting visitors to interact with humorous and frightening manifestations of the spirits that haunt feminist and queer history.

Whereas traditional hell houses set out to scare and convert, Killjoy’s Kastle cheekily aims to provoke and pervert. The humorous and costumed characters in the kastle – including polyamorous vampiric grannies, a demented women's studies professor, and lesbian zombie folksingers – give expression to old and new anxieties, creating a space for critique, affect, and discussion. Inside Killjoy’s Kastle fills this space by exploring the kastle’s theoretical and political legacies in chapters by queer and feminist scholars and in vignettes by artists who participated in the project. The many colourful photos in the book also bring Killjoy’s Kastle to life, offering an important visual context.

Taking the kastle as a starting point, the contributors to this volume consider the role of lesbian feminist histories and direct-action aesthetics in contemporary queer and feminist communities, particularly the ways in which political artwork can produce new ways of knowing about the past.

This book will appeal to audiences of queer and feminist art; scholars and students of gender, women’s, and sexuality studies, queer theory, art criticism, and performance studies; queer and feminist cultural and direct-action communities; and those who have toured the Kastle to date or have heard about it through the heated media coverage or online discussions.

Urgent, necessary, and joyful. Jennifer Doyle, author of Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art
All the rumours are true: lesbian feminist performance artists are terrifying, titillating, and in-your-face political. This book extends the fright and delight of Killjoy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Haunted House, revamping the genre of the exhibition catalogue to include, in true feminist fashion, all the various heroines, critics, and guides that influenced and contributed to the project. A book for everyone committed to resisting heteropatriarchal violence, and who wants to laugh (and cry) while doing it. Heather Davis, editor of Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada

Allyson Mitchell is a maximalist artist working in sculpture, performance, installation, and film. She is based in Toronto, where she is an associate professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University and runs FAG Feminist Art Gallery with her partner, Deirdre Logue.

Cait McKinney is an assistant professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. Their first book, on lesbian-feminist information histories, is forthcoming in 2020.

Lesbian Rule: Welcome to the Hell House / Cait McKinney and Allyson Mitchell


1 Scaling Up and Sharing Out Dyke Culture: Killjoy’s Kastle’s Haunted Block Party / Heather Love

  • Lesbianizing the Institution: The Haunting Effects of Killjoy Hospitality at the Art Gallery of York University / Emelie Chhangur

2 Feminist Killjoys (and Other Wilful Subjects) / Sara Ahmed

  • Killjoy in the ONE Archives: Activating Los Angeles’s Queer Art and Activist Histories / David Evans Frantz


3 Inside Job: Learning, Collaboration, and Queer-Feminist Contagion in Killjoy’s Kastle / Helena Reckitt

  • Valerie Solanas as the Goddamned Welcoming Committee / Felice Shays
  • Valerie Solanas Script

4 Playing Demented Women’s Studies Professor Tour Guide, or Performing Monstrosity in Killjoy’s Kastle / Moynan King

  • Demented Women’s Studies Professor Tour Guide Script
  • The Sound of White Girls Crying / Nazmia Jamal
  • Paranormal Killjoys / Ginger Brooks Takahashi
  • Menstruating Trans Man / Chase Joynt
  • A Ring around Your Finger Is a Cord around Your Genitals! / Chelsey Lichtman
  • Once upon a Time I Was a Riot Ghoul / Kalale Dalton-Lutale
  • Riot Ghoul / Andie Shabbar
  • Inconvenienced / Madelyne Beckles
  • On the Cusp of the Kastle / Karen Tongson

5 Processing Killjoy’s Kastle: A Deep Lez Performance / Ann Cvetkovich


  • Facebook Statements: “We Learn More Every Time We Do This”

6 Reflections of a Real-Life Feminist Killjoy: Ball-Busters and the Recurring Trauma of Intergenerational Queer-Feminist Life / Kyla Wazana Tompkins

  • R.I.P. Little Frida’s / Chris E. Vargas

7 Home Sick: Horror, Gothic Storytelling, and the Queers Who Haunt Houses / S. Trimble

8 The Graveyards of Community Gathering: Archiving Lesbian and Feminist Life in London / Catherine Grant

  • Leave Britney Alone! and Other Ghostly Feelings / Tobias B.D. Wiggins


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