Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence


People involved in Sex Diss aren't just intellectually interested in this stuff, they're actually living it a lot of the time. That means that none of it is flat - it's all dynamically alive.
- Michael Rowland, PhD Student at the University of Sussex


Sara Jane Bailes is Reader in Theatre and Performance Studies and Head of the Drama: Theatre and Performance programme in the School of English. She teaches performance practice and theory and is interested in the conversations between these two as modes of critical and creative thinking. In research and teaching she focuses upon avant garde, experimental practices in the work of solo artists and collectives. She is interested in queer, radical performance as a space that can productively trouble gendered, racial, sexual and social hierarchies. Current and past projects focus on composition histories in collaborative and interdisciplinary/cross-genre art practices in the US, UK and Europe, and the way aesthetic strategies can be fashioned to oppose or resist mainstream social and political ideology (Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure, 2011, and the co-edited collection Beckett and Musicality, 2014). She collaborates with artists as observer, dramaturg and as critical friend. These include Reckless Sleepers, Ursula Martinez, Karen Christopher and Haranczak/Navarre Performance Projects and Sue MacClaine. Her current book projects focus on the work of Elevator Repair Service (New York) and on the use of domestic objects to foreground the labour of performance. She is contributing editor of Women and Performance: a Journal of Feminist Theory.

Paul Boyce's work focuses on sexual and gendered subjectivities as conceived, imagined, resisted, and misrecognized in contexts of socio-economic transformation and cultural continuity. He is currently exploring these themes through anthropological and psychoanalytic perspectives and via collaborative photographic work in West Bengal, India (the long-term context of his ethnographic research). More widely he works in applied fields concerning sexual rights and HIV prevention internationally, most recently in Nepal (for IDS), Kenya and South Africa (for UNDP), the Caribbean (for the HIV/AIDS Alliance), and Vietnam (for CCIHP). Based in the Department of Anthropology in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex he teaches undergraduate modules on Sexuality and Embodiment, and a post-graduate module on Activism for Development and Social Justice. 

Natalia Cecire specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, poetics, history of science, gender and sexuality, media, and childhood studies, and is at work on a book titled Experimental: American Literature and the Aesthetics of Knowledge. Current teaching and research focuses on theories of minor knowledge, including innocence, puerility, queer theorizations of childhood, and feminist history of science. Her recent essay 'Ways of Not Reading Gertrude Stein' (ELH, Spring 2015) situates recent critical engagements with compromised reading--the so-called "new modesty" exemplified by surface reading, distant reading, and "postcritical reading"--within the intersecting histories of women's labor and information technology. Her essay "Environmental Innocence and Slow Violence" (WSQ, Spring 2015) examines the contested place of innocence within discourses of race and environment through a reading of the 2012 post-Katrina film Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Moira Dustin is a Research Fellow in the Department of Law in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology. She joined the University of Sussex as a post-doctoral research fellow in 2016. Together with two other research fellows, Dr Carmelo Danisi and Dr Nina Held she is working on the European Research Council project SOGICA - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum: A European human rights challenge (2016-2020). The project, led by Prof Nuno Ferreira, will generate the first ever theoretically and empirically-grounded comparative and comprehensive picture of the status and legal experiences of asylum-seekers across Europe claiming international protection on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI), and determine how the European asylum systems can treat more fairly asylum claims based on the claimant's SOGI. She has a PhD in Gender Studies from the London School of Economics where she is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE). Before joining the University of Sussex, Moira was Director of Research and Communications at the Equality and Diversity Forum, a network of equality and human rights organisations, where she coordinated the Equality and Diversity Research Network. Moira has also worked at the Refugee Council, providing advice and information and developing national services for refugees and asylum-seekers. She has worked as a freelance sub-editor on the Guardian and Independent newspapers and was the Information Worker for the Carnegie Inquiry into the Third Age.

Katherine Farrimond is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies. Her research focuses on the intersections of the body, sexuality and gender in contemporary popuar film and television. Her current research focuses on two main areas: the femme fatale in contemporary cinema, and mediated constructions of virginity. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on representations of girlhood, femininity and sexuality.

Nuno Ferreira is a Professor of Law who specializes in human rights, discrimination, European, children's rights, and asylum and refugee law. Nuno uses socio-legal, comparative, empirical and policy-oriented perspectives in his work. Nuno has published widely with top publishers and journals, and participated in several high-profile externally funded research projects. Nuno’s work in the field of sexuality relates particularly to the legal protection of asylum-seekers who present claims for international protection based on their sexuality or gender identity. On this topic, he has published on the International Journal of Refugee Law and is a Horizon 2020 ERC Starting Grant recipient, leading the project SOGICA - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum (2016-2020). Also in the field of sexuality, Nuno has published on the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships across Europe.

Michael Lawrence is a Lecturer in Media and Film. His current research interests include international cinemas of the post-war period, with a particular focus on popular Hindi cinema/Bollywood, and histories and theories of film stardom and screen performance, especially the work of non-professionals and non-actors, and particularly children and animals. He is the co-editor of a major collection of essays called Animal Life and the Moving Image (Columbia University Press, forthcoming), and is also currently co-editng a collection about zoos and moving image media for Palgrave Macmillan's new Screening Space series. Recent publications have included an article on the 1958 Hindi-language film adaptation of Johanna Spyri's children's novel Heidi, in the Oxford University Press journal Adaptation and an essay about infancy and film acting, as part of a special dossier of essays on children and performance for the journal Screen (2013). His monograph on the Indian actor Sabu will be published in Summer 2014 by the BFI. Michael also curates and presents queer cinema for Eyes Wide Open at the Duke of York's cinema in Brighton and for the annual BFI London LBGT Film Festival.

Alisa Lebow is a Reader in Film Studies at University of Sussex. Her research is generally concerned with issues related to documentary film, recently to do with questions of “the political” in documentary. Her books The Cinema of Me (Wallflower, 2012) and First Person Jewish (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) explore aspects of the representation of self and subjectivity in first person documentary. She is also the co-editor with Alexandra Juhasz of A Companion to Contemporary Documentary Film (2015). Her films include Outlaw (1994, 26 min) a Video Verité manifesto made with Leslie Feinberg (1949-2014) and Treyf (1998, co-directed with Cyntha Madansky, 56 min), a documentary about two Jewish lesbians who meat and fall in love at a Passover seder. Her current researchproject combines her scholarly and practical work: a Leverhulme Trust funded interactive documentary about filmmaking in Egypt since the revolution (www.filmingrevolution.org).

Andy Medhurst is a Senior Lecturer in Media, Film and Cultural Studies. His main research interests are British popular culture (both contemporary and historical), gender and sexuality, the genre of comedy and constructions of Englishness. He has written reviews and cultural journalism for many publications (including Sight and SoundThe WireNew Statesman, Gay Times, The Face, The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian and The Observer) and contributes frequently to arts and current affairs programmes on both radio (such as Thinking AloudFront RowToday and Nightwaves) and television (such as TimewatchThe Late Show and Without Walls).

Elizabeth Mills, an anthropologist by training, and a South African by birth, has historically pursued research and activism in the fields of HIV, gender and sexuality. Prior to joining Sussex in 2016 as a Lecturer in International Development, Beth conducted research on gender and sexual violence, and ran the Sexuality, Poverty and Law Programme where she worked with activists, lawyers, policy makers and academics in over thirty countries around the world to advance sexual and gender justice through creative arts, law, policy and praxis. She has published widely in the fields of anthropology and international development, and holds a PhD from Sussex, an MPhil from Cambridge and a BSocSc from Cape Town University.

Sharif Mowlabocus is a Lecturer in Digital Media, having graduated with a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of Sussex in 2006. His research to date has primarily focused on the production, maintenance and representation of sexual cultures in digital environments. His first monograph Gaydar Culture (2010) explored British gay men's use of digital media and his recent work explores the politics of sexual risk and desire as they manifest themselves in contemporary pornography forms.

Rachel O'Connell is a Lecturer in the School of English at Sussex, where she co-convenes the historic MA in Sexual Dissidence, a ground-breaking MA programme in queer studies that celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016 (working with co-convenor Dr Elizabeth Mills in the School of Global Studies). She teaches Critical Issues in Queer Theory, a core module on the MA in Sexual Dissidence. She also co-directs, with Dr Sam Solomon, the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence, a research hub for queer studies at the University of Sussex that brings together queer scholars, artists, and activists the share current queer research, arts, and praxis. She has published research on late nineteenth century British literature in relation to middlebrow culture, prose genres, ethics, sexuality, and disability in journals such as ELH, Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens, and (forthcoming) Women: A Cultural Review; and the edited collection Sex and Disability (ed. Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow). Her current interdisciplinary research on the TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race focuses on questions of fandom, mediation, intimacy, and contemporary celebrity and engages generically innovative creative-critical writing practices while generating unconventional, public-facing research outputs including a collaborative podcast project.

Kate O'Riordan is a Reader in the Department of Media and Film at Sussex. Her research examines science and technology by deploying sexuality and gender as key analytical categories. Kate has worked on gender and gaming, web cameras, medical imaging, art and digital design. She has also published on sexuality and technology and the ethics of internet research. Her current work includes an edited collection with David Phillips called Queer Online: Media Technology and Sexuality, and Queering Genealogies, a project which assembles audio files from interviews into a web-based installation. These materials are drawn from life stories about people who come from queer families, or who have experienced queer forms of kinship, and are themselves queer identified in some way. Kate is on the coordinating committee of the Centre for Material Digital Culture, at the University of Sussex, and the Brighton and Sussex Sexualities Network (BSSN).

Tanya Palmer’s research focuses on the legal regulation of sexual relationships. At present she is completing a monograph entitled Re-Negotiating Sex and Sexual Violation in the Criminal Law, which explores the ways that the criminal law does, could and should distinguish sex from sexual violation. She has interests more broadly in criminal law and justice, feminist legal theory, gender and sexuality and socio-legal research methodologies. She is based in the School of Law and also convenes the Gender and Law Research Group within the Centre for Gender Studies.

Alison Phipps is Director of Gender Studies and Senior Lecturer in Sociology. Her research interests focus on the politics of the body, covering debates around issues such as sexual violence, sex work, childbirth, breastfeeding and abortion. Her monograph entitled 'The Politics of the Body: gender in a neoliberal and neoconservative age' will be out in 2014 from Polity Press. She also works on the issue of violence against women students and recently co-authored the NUS report "That's What She Said," on lad cultures in higher education.

Melanie Richter-Montpetit is a Lecturer in International Relations and currently teaches the MA Module ‘Sex and Violence.’ Her research interests are in queer-feminist and anti-colonial thought, and in Critical War and Security Studies. Much of her work is concerned with the ongoing hold of racial-sexual and colonial formations of power on contemporary war and liberal security regimes. Her work has appeared in MillenniumSecurity Dialogue, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics,International Political SociologyInternational Feminist Journal of Politics and The Disorder of Things. She is currently working on three book projects. Her solo book Beyond the Erotics of Orientalism: Feminist and Queer Investments in Liberal Warconnects the targeting of Muslim/ified people and spaces in the War on Terror to genealogies of settler colonialism and chattel slavery. Part of this analysis seeks to offer a deeper understanding of what is at stake in the recent inclusion of women and LGBT people in the U.S. military. She has been interviewed about this work by E-IR. She is also currently completing two co-authored books with Alison Howell (Rutgers University): Race and Security Studies (under contract with Oxford UP) and Martial Politics: Thinking Against Militarization and Securitization on Disability, Race and War(invited for review by ANIMA Series, Duke UP). You can follow her on Twitter.

Lucy Robinson is a graduate of the MA in Sexual Dissidence. Following this she moved into the History Department at Sussex. Her book Gay Men and the Left in Britain: How The Personal Got Political  (MUP, 2007) was shortlisted for an Erotic Award. Her current projects continue to focus on the relationship between popular culture, identity and politics in the 1980s, including publications on charity singles, music video and the Falklands War. She is academic lead on a new digitisation project 'Observing the Eighties' and co-organiser of a new network 'Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change'.

Luke Robinson is Lecturer in Media and Film Studies. His primary research interests to date have been around Chinese-language film culture in the contemporary period, with a particular focus on documentary. He is the author of a book on independent documentary in the PRC, and articles and book chapters on documentary, feature films, animation, and film festivals. He is interested in queer media culture, broadly defined, particularly from a comparative perspective. 

Samuel Solomon is Lecturer of English and Creative & Critical Writing and Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence. He received a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California. He has written on the connections of gay and women's liberation to political economy, particularly in the context of Marxist-feminist praxis. His teaching and research consider more broadly twentieth century and contemporary literature (poetry and cross-genre writing especially) as they relate to radical social movements. Research interests include: feminism, Marxism, contemporary poetics, queer theory, critical university studies, Yiddish literature and culture, literary translation, aesthetics and politics.

Bethan Stevens is a lecturer in English and Creative & Critical Writing. She's interested in lost artworks, book illustration, ekphrasis and other intersections between visual and verbal arts in the long nineteenth century. She has published queer readings of William Blake (looking at castrated media), and short fiction that explores queer themes geographically and historically.

Pam Thurschwell is a senior lecturer in English, and is currently working on Keep your Back to Future: Adolescent Time Travel across the 20th Century, a monograph that explores the cultural history of adolescence in relation to theories of queer temporality, amongst other topics. She is the author of Literature, Technology and Magical Thinking, 1880–1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2001) and Sigmund Freud (Routledge Press, 2000; second edition, 2009), and co-editor with Leah Price of Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture (Ashgate Press, 2005); with Nicola Bown and Carolyn Burdett of The Victorian Supernatural (Cambridge University Press 2004), and with Sian White of a special issue of Textual Practice on Elizabeth Bowen (2013). She has written on pop music in relation to gender and sexuality including essays on David Bowie, Morrissey, and Bruce Springsteen.  

Lizzie Thynne is Reader in Film in the School of Media, Film and Music. Her research encompasses written and audiovisual work exploring aspects of sexuality, women’s history, life story-telling and visual culture. Her recent output includes Voices in Movement, a gallery-based sound work drawing on the Sisterhood and After Women’s Liberation Oral History project; as well as a series of short films for the latter. Her latest feature documentaries are experimental biographies; On the Border (2013) mediates on her relation to her mother’s life and times and Playing a Part (2004) recreates a life of the lesbian surrealist photographer, Claude Cahun and her partner and stepsister Marcel Moore. Cahun’s work was also the subject of several articles. She has also written on lesbian representation in the cinema and on television, (topics include The Killing of Sister George and ‘the lesbian’ in prime-time drama) as well as women’s employment in the media.

Francesco Ventrella is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of Art History at Sussex. His current research project, 'Connoisseurial Intimacies: 1870-1930' will investigate the way in which art connoisseurs used physical objects as a target to produce gendered identifications with the past. He is also interested in the relationship between feminism and art since the 1970s, representations of AIDS, and feminist and queer curating. 

Mark Walters is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Sussex Law School and Co-Director of the Centre for Gender Studies. Prior to this he completed his doctorate in law (criminology) at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. His most recent publications include: Hate Crime and Restorative Justice: Exploring Causes, Repairing Harms (OUP 2014), and 'Gender "Hostility", Rape, and the Hate Crime Paradigm' (with Jessica Tumath) (Modern Law Review, 2014). He is also co-author (along with Keating, Kyd Cunnigham, & Elliot) of the criminal law text: Clarkson and Keating Criminal Law: Text and Materials (Sweet & Maxwell. Mark is currently working on a Leverhulme Trust funded research project with Professor Rupert Brown (psychology) entitled 'The Indirect Experience of Hate Crime: The victim group response'. This is a mixed method study which seeks to examine the impacts that anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim hate crimes have on these minority communities.

Cynthia Weber is Professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex and Co-Director of the media company Pato Productions. Her written work takes a critical feminist/queer lens to questions of sovereignty, intervention, and citizenship, especially in a US context. She also makes documentary films that critically analyse US identity in national and international contexts. She is writing a book called 'Queer IR' and she teaches a module, entitled Global Queer, on the MA in Sexual Dissidence.



Ashley Barr, English

Abby Barras, Applied Social Science (Uni of Brighton)

My research focuses on trans and non-binary people's experiences of participation in every day sport, but crosses over in to health, fitness and feminism. 

Evie Browne, International Development

Current thesis abstract: This thesis provides a critical ethnographic exploration of the intimate and social relationships of lesbian and bisexual women in Cuba, through the theoretical framework of homonormativities. Through foregrounding the everyday lives of Cuban lesbian and bisexual women, I examine how people perform, subvert or reframe normativities within intimate relationships, family life, community participation, state and international discourses. I analyse the ways in which the socialist context informs these acts, and whether there are tensions or incongruities between global homonormativities and Cuban homonormativities. A central contribution is the finding that homonormativity must be considered in context, as normativities differ from place to place, between societies, and between differing subjectivities. The thesis challenges and complicates ideas of homonormativity and global queer(ness) to include different political and social conceptions of ‘what is normal’, outside the more commonly studied context of democratic systems.  Through hearing the voices of lesbian and bisexual women in Cuba, we can push our theoretical understanding of how homonormativities can be resisted, reframed and contextualised, and potentially even decolonised.

Thomas Ebbs, Law Studies

Research Project: I am investigating how law has configured (radical) feminist responses to transactional sex, particularly sex work. I am researching the role that civil society organisations hold in shaping such configurations of activism and legalism, through a methodology of governmentality. I am interested in describing how technologies of government distort projects of emancipation.  My research efforts are supervised by Dr Charlotte Skeet and Dr Bal Sokhi-Bulley.

Broader Interests:  Before I joined the university, I was the Director of Research for Lawyers for Justice in Libya. I helped manage and devise several research projects and programmes, including a cooperative transitional justice archive and a nationwide constitutional engagement campaign. I have also coordinated human rights investigations and submitted communications to international human rights mechanisms.  I previously worked in Cambodia, where I provided legal assistance and advice to sex workers, migrant domestic workers, teachers, and those employed in the garment sector.

Ray Filar, Gender Studies

Razan Ghazzawi, Gender Studies

My doctoral project is an ethnography of self-identified Syrian queers in Beirut who are also asylum seekers and in the process of relocating to Europe. I also explore dominant figurations of the 'Syrian queer' in the mediatised, digital and militarised narratives of the Syrian war. I employ storytelling as a decolonial method to counter non-Syrian dominant narratives on the Syrian war. 

My research interests are autoethnography/ethnography, decolonial knowledge production, popular uprisings, Syria and Southwest and North Africa region (SWANA), queer and feminist IR, storytelling and oral history. 

I would like to help to work on the above-mentioned issues as well as on issues that concern BAME, international and POC students on campus (mental health, visa complications, imposter syndrome, exile and asylum etc). 

Charmaine Kohn, Psychology

My research is exploring the wellbeing of adoptive parents after their children have been placed with them. More broadly then my specific project I am interested in gender, sexuality and identify as complex concepts for people and how these shape and change over time for some.

Jack Lindsay, International Relations

Vitor Lopes Andrade, Social Anthropology

Project: “The local integration of people seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the UK and South Africa: a comparative study”

Effie Makepeace, Drama/IDS

I have just started a PhD at Sussex between English and IDS looking at the role of community theatre in political subjectivity in Malawi, UK and India.  I am hoping to draw on queer theory in my thesis after being involved in queer activism in London and Delhi in recent years.

Katherine Parker-Hay, English

Research project: Queer’s Late Style: shifting mood in the late and minor texts

Research interests: affect, minor literatures, feminism, queer studies, temporality, genre, institutional history  

Amelia Roberts, English

I'm in my second year of the Creative and Critical Writing PhD course and my thesis title is Same-Sex Desire and Intimacy in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables and its Adaptations. So, an interest in nineteenth-century gender and sexuality, but also in present-day queer cultures and queer readings, especially those explored through online communities and creative and critical writing.

Kat Sinclair, Cultural Studies

Researching the political economy of feminised robotics. In terms of activities, I would be keen to maybe run some kind of workshop with the Devil’s Dyke Network, the nature of which would probably be concerned with embodiment and poetics/performance. 

Lisa Squire-Smith, Gender Studies (Humanities)

I am critically exploring the work of feminist philosopher, Elizabeth Grosz, as a way to theoretically map the relationship between discourses and counter-discourses of love and embodied identity.  My particular focus is fluid gender and sexual identities (including the asexual spectrum) and forms of connection.  I am looking at the effects of the biopsychosocial structures produced through the romantic love paradigm upon these corporeal subjectivties and experiences (and vice versa) and their public and inter/personal articulation -both socially and within intersectional feminist, trans, queer and cultural studies- and their interaction with vectors of identity such as disability, race and class.

Natalie Wright, English

I'm writing on women and gender in the inauguration of academic literary studies in the UK and am more broadly interested in gender in the history of higher education and the novel form, and also contemporary queer theory, trans studies, and marxist/materialist feminisms (preferably all together!).


Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence - Masters Program, Queory Speaker Series, Queer Studies Reading Group, Film Club and more. [tweets by Sam Solomon]

RT @Bisexual_Meg: University of Sussex students (and staff)! Want to support your trans and non-binary peers in *the simplest* way po… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

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