Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Researching Sex and Sexualities - Conference May 8th-9th 2015

A two day conference at the University of Sussex

Call for Contributions – Deadline February 6th 2015

The Researching Sex and Sexualities conference aims to open up new conversations about doing research and being a researcher on sexual practices, lives and subjectivities. Researchers from across the disciplines are invited to shed light upon the multiple problems, possibilities and questions that arise from the lived experience of exploring this ostensibly private and intimate area of social life.

Confirmed Speakers:
Professor Ken Plummer, University of Essex; Dr Rachel Spronk, University of Amsterdam; Professor Rachel Thomson, University of Sussex; Professor Andrea Cornwall, University of Sussex.

Responding to keynotes from, and conversations with, leading international scholars in the field, the event will have a participatory focus. Instead of traditional paper presentations participants will be asked to submit a piece of writing prior to the event. Papers will be available ahead of the conference to provide a shared starting point for discussions. Contributors are invited to submit papers along two potentially overlapping strands of enquiry: Methodologies and Interdisciplinarity.

The Methodologies strand will explore the often unspoken embodied, emotional and reflexive facets of researching sex and sexualities. Questions that we aim to explore within this theme include:

Who is a ‘sex researcher’ and in what ways is that identity brought to bear not only upon the knowledge we produce but on our social and sexual lives?

How do we analyse the many cultural representations and discursive framings of sex and sexualities?

How are creative or innovative methodologies used to research sex and sexuality and what issues and possibilities do they represent in practice?

How does the process of ethical review shape or even limit the framing of research in this area, and how do ethical concerns play out across the life of a project?

Reflections on the research encounter in all its messiness, emotion, unknowability, problems and potential are particularly sought.

Secondly we invite contributions to the Interdisciplinarity strand, examining the position of sex and sexuality studies both within and beyond the academy. Sex and sexualities research is a field of enquiry with a stake in many disciplines but situated wholly within none. Exploratory questions within this thematic strand include:

  • What possibilities for collaboration and conversation are really offered by this in-between space?
  • Do the various structures of the University tend to pull us back towards disciplinary affinities despite the familiarity of ‘interdisciplinarity’ as a buzzword?
  • How are researchers involving and engaging non-academic publics in their research?
  • How do innovations in teaching allow students to participate in the epistemology of sex and sexualities?
  • What concepts and theoretical frameworks can enable us to understand and research sex and sexualities across the disciplines?

This strand encourages contributors to reflect on the lived experience of being an interdisciplinary researcher; to lay bare the frustrations and obstacles alongside the pleasures and prospects that are revealed when we speak across, in-between and beyond disciplines.

If you wish to take part in this event we ask you to submit the following:

1.     A Word document containing: a 200 word abstract outlining your written (or workshop) contribution; a 100 word biography and your full contact details – deadline Friday 6th February 2015

2.     (Pending acceptance of / feedback on your abstract) a short written contribution of 1,500-3,500 words – deadline Friday 27th March 2015

Selected papers will be made available for participants to read one month before the conference (please note participants may choose to read as many or as few papers as they wish before the event). We hope that these papers will be revised following discussions at conference and that they will form the basis for a future published collection. In addition to the short written contribution, we also invite proposals for participatory workshops that speak to the conference themes. Interactive workshops dealing with innovative or creative methods in sex and sexualities are particularly sought.

Contributions are welcomed from researchers and students at all career stages. Although contributors’ pieces of writing should follow a rigorous academic style, the guidelines for content are flexible. Your contribution may take the form of:

  • ·       A reflection on one or both of the conference themes.
  • ·       An examination of a particularly rich research encounter.
  • ·       A reflection on some aspect of your experience of being a sex and sexualities researcher.
  • ·       A reflection on your current work in progress.
  • ·        A concept note.
  • ·       A more conventional short academic paper that speaks to the conference theme.
  • ·       If also proposing a workshop, a reflection on themes and questions emerging from your workshop.

If you would like to discuss your submission or require any help / advice with your abstract or the submission process, please contact:

Charlotte Morris cam40@sussex.ac.uk ,  Rachel Wood R.Wood@sussex.ac.uk or Tianyang Zhou (Oscar) T.Zhou@sussex.ac.uk

This event is a collaboration between the CLHLWR and the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Sussex.

You can download the details about the call for contributions here as a word document.