A selection of publications from faculty associated with the Centre
I think Sex Diss is really important. It's a bit like when women’s studies courses began. They catalysed changes across academia. This is what Sex Diss has done with queer studies. It provided a hub where like-minded people could develop as individuals and in their thinking and they have gone on to have a real influence.” professor jenny bourne taylor
Emeritus Professor of English
- Feminism and art in postwar Italy: the legacy of Carla Lonzi (2020) - Francesco Ventrella and Giovanna Zapperi
Ventrella, Francesco and Zapperi, Giovanna, eds. (2020) Feminism and art in postwar Italy: the legacy of Carla Lonzi. Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 9781784537326
A renowned art critic of the 1960s, Carla Lonzi abandoned the art world in 1970 to found Rivolta Femminile, a pioneering feminist collective in Italy. Rather than separating the art world luminary from the activist, however, this book looks at the two together. It demonstrates that even as Lonzi refused art, she articulated how feminist spaces and communities drew strength from creativity.
The eleven essays in this book document the artistic and feminist circles of postwar Italy, a time characterised both by radical protest and avant-garde aesthetics, using primary and archival sources never before translated into English. They map Lonzi's deep connections to the influential Italian Arte Povera movement, and explore her complicated relationship with female artists of the time, such as Carla Accardi and Suzanne Santoro.
Carla Lonzi's written work and activism represents a crucial, but previously overlooked, feminist intervention in traditional art history from beyond the Anglo-American canon. This book is a timely and urgent addition to our understanding of radical politics, separatist feminism and art criticism in the postwar period.
- Joyraj and Debanuj: queer(y)ing the city (2020) - Paul Boyce
Boyce, Paul and Dasgupta, Rohit K (2020) Joyraj and Debanuj: queer(y)ing the city. Contemporary South Asia, 28 (4). pp. 511-523. ISSN 0958-4935
In this article we want to evoke two characters that each suggest different points of departure for thinking about Kolkata as a queer kind of space. By this we want to evoke something of the sexual geography and life-ways of the city, but to go beyond this standpoint too, to question ways in which ethnographic characters might be evoked in respect of any context, Kolkata or elsewhere. In one sense this is to open out a perception of Kolkata as a scene of many sexual life-worlds, inviting a plural kind of analysis suggestive of a multiplicity of perspectives; persons/subjects each with a unique viewpoint to be captured. The two characters we explore here each draw attention to issues of belonging and migration, of both wanting to move to and away from Kolkata; creating new life-worlds via the city amidst its shifting sexual geographies, class and caste divisions, and wider diasporic connections and fault-lines. Kolkata itself emerges as an attribute of the characterisations to hand: sometimes as distinct mise-en-scene, at others a kind of sensibility or resonance field for understanding self and others.
- Me, not you: the trouble with mainstream feminism (2020) - Alison Phipps
Phipps, Alison (2020) Me, not you: the trouble with mainstream feminism. Manchester University Press, Manchester. ISBN 9781526147172
Phipps argues that the mainstream movement against sexual violence embodies a political whiteness which both reflects its demographics and limits its revolutionary potential.
- What is post-punk?: Genre and identity in avant-garde popular music, 1977-82 (2020) - Mimi Haddon
Haddon, Mimi (2020) What is post-punk?: Genre and identity in avant-garde popular music, 1977-82. Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Press, Michigan. ISBN 9780472131822
Popular music in the US and UK during the late 1970s and early 1980s was wildly eclectic and experimental. “Post-punk,” as it was retroactively labeled, could include electro-pop melodies, distorted guitars, avant-garde industrial sounds, and reggae beats, and thus is not an easily definable musical category.
What Is Post-Punk? combines a close reading of the late-1970s music press discourse with musical analyses and theories of identity to unpack post-punk’s status as a genre. Mimi Haddon traces the discursive foundations of post-punk across publications such as Sounds, ZigZag, Melody Maker, the Village Voice, and the NME, and presents case studies of bands including Wire, PiL, Joy Division, the Raincoats, and Pere Ubu. By positioning post-punk in relation to genres such as punk, new wave, dub, and disco, Haddon explores the boundaries of post-punk, and reveals it as a community of tastes and predilections rather than a stylistically unified whole. Haddon diversifies the discourse around post-punk, exploring both its gender and racial dynamics and its proto-industrial aesthetics to restore the historical complexity surrounding the genre’s terms and origins.
- What’s in a name: the politics of queer on campus (2020) - Kate O'Riordan and Sharon Webb
O'Riordan, Kate and Webb, Sharon (2020) What’s in a name: the politics of queer on campus. Sexualities. pp. 1-20. ISSN 1363-4607
This paper draws upon oral history interviews and archival work carried out to examine the history of the LGBTQ+ student society at the University of Sussex. It reflects upon the significance of the Society’s name change over time (from GaySoc in the 1970s to its contemporary formation as the LGBTQ+ Society) and considers the role of the Society and its members as an active political and sociable group, concerned with a broad range of political and social justice movements, both on campus and across wider society, locally and nationally. It demonstrates how the experience of student societies relates to individual and group identity and how they help shape national and international politics. It looks at how the groups were positioned as political through their location and in relation to activism beyond LGBTQ+ issues and the University.
- Desire under conflict: the potential for queer in Hoda Barakat’s The Stone of Laughter (2019) - Feras Alkabani
Alkabani, Feras (2019) Desire under conflict: the potential for queer in Hoda Barakat’s The Stone of Laughter. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 55 (3). pp. 352-366. ISSN 1744-9855
This article examines Hoda Barakat’s original rendition of gender and sexual otherness in The Stone of Laughter (1990), the first Arabic novel with a queer protagonist, Khalil. The analysis sheds light on pre-modern Arabic literature’s celebratory depiction of homoerotic desire vis-à-vis the dearth and negative connotations of the theme in modern Arabic fiction. The article explores Barakat’s implementation of surrealism in her portrayal of Khalil’s sexuality and the reality of his choices within the context of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–90). Khalil’s queer identity, which marks his dissidence, becomes a form of resistance that challenges the status quo of his hetero-patriarchal society and the unresolved sociopolitical issues that led to the War.
- Gender and Queer Perspectives on Brexit (2019) - Moira Dustin, Nuno Ferreira and Susan Millns
Dustin, Moira, Ferreira, Nuno and Millns, Susan, eds. (2019) Gender and Queer Perspectives on Brexit. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. ISBN 9783030031213
This collection examines the opportunities and challenges, rights and wrongs, and prospects and risks of Brexit from the perspectives of gender and sexuality. While much has been written about Brexit from legal, political, social and economic perspectives, there has been little analysis of the effects of Brexit on women and gender/sexual minorities who have historically been marginalised and whose voices have been less audible in political debates – both nationally and at the European level. The collection explores how Brexit might change the equality, human rights and social justice landscape, but from the viewpoint of women and gender/sexual minorities. The contributions gathered in it demonstrate the variety of ways that Brexit will make a difference to the lives of women and individuals marginalised because of gender or sexual identity.
- Everything you always wanted to know about sex (in IR) but were afraid to ask: the ‘queer turn’ in international relations (2018) - Melanie Richter-Montpetit
Richter-Montpetit, Melanie (2018) Everything you always wanted to know about sex (in IR) but were afraid to ask: the ‘queer turn’ in international relations. Millennium, 46 (2). pp. 220-240. ISSN 0305-8298
Queer International Relations’ momentum in the past four years has made it inconceivable for disciplinary IR to make it ‘appear as if there is no Queer International Theory’. The ‘queer turn’ has given rise to vibrant research programmes across IR subfields. Queer research is not only not a frivolous distraction from the ‘hard’ issues of IR, but queer analytics crack open for investigation fundamental dimensions of international politics that have hitherto been missed, misunderstood or trivialised by mainstream and critical approaches to IR. As queer research is making significant inroads into IR theorising, a fault line has emerged in IR scholarship on sexuality and queerness. Reflecting the tensions between Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Studies and Queer Theory in the academy more broadly, the IR literature on (homo)sexuality largely coalesces into two distinct approaches: LGBT and Queer approaches. The article will lay out the basic tenets of Queer Theory and discuss how it diverges from LGBT Studies. The article then turns to the books under review and focuses on the ways in which they take up the most prominent issue in contemporary debates in Queer Theory: the increasing inclusion of LGBT people into international human rights regimes and liberal states and markets. The article finishes with a brief reflection on citation practices, queer methodologies and the ethics of queer research.
- Offsetting queer literary labor (2018) - Sam Solomon
Solomon, Samuel (2018) Offsetting queer literary labor. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 24 (2). pp. 239-266. ISSN 1064-2684
Offsetting Queer Literary Labor asks how LGBTQ+ people and other feminists navigated late twentieth-century changes in print technology in the period from roughly 1965-1990, a period during which typesetting was first computerized and then all but abandoned as part of the pre-print process. I do this by way of an encounter with the writings of Marxist-feminist poet Karen Brodine. The labor relations that surround the typesetting computer are part and parcel of the revolutionary working-class and queer socialist feminism that Brodine elaborates across her writing and that she worked for tirelessly in her life. Through a reading of her poetry, journals, and political activities, I argue that late-twentieth century US gender and sexual categories, as well as novel forms of queer intimacy, were forged through the material relations of print-related wage work. Rather than claiming to queer these texts or this history, this article argues that the concrete forms of feminized labor that attend literary technologies have been and continue to be the basis for the category of “LGBT literature.”
- The cover version: researching sexuality through ventriloquism (2018) - Ester McGeeney, Lucy Robinson, Rachel Thomson and Pam Thurschwell
McGeeney, E, Robinson, L, Thomson, R and Thurschwell, P (2018) The cover version: researching sexuality through ventriloquism. In: Morris, Charlotte, Boyce, Paul, Cornwall, Andrea, Frith, Hannah, Harvey, Laura and Huang, Yingying (eds.) Sex and sexualities: reflections on methodology. Zed Publishing, pp. 150-172. ISBN 9781786993199
This collection explores the creative, personal and contextual parameters involved in researching sexuality, cutting across disciplinary boundaries and drawing on case studies from a variety of countries and contexts. Combining a wide range of expertise, its contributors address such key areas as pornography, sex work, intersectionality and LGBT perspectives. The contributors also share their own experiences of researching sexuality within contrasting disciplines, as well as interrogating how the sexual identities of researchers themselves can relate to, and inform, their work. The result is a unique and diverse collection that combines practical insights on field work with novel theoretical reflections.
In this chapter we propose ‘ventriloquism’ as a practice with potential to create new knowledge, and in this sense as a mode of research. Our definition of ventriloquism is broad and encompasses the practice of re-voicing of verbatim interview material and singing cover versions of songs. What is common to both practices is that they combine a sense of comfort and safety (working with a script) while also offering the potential for something new to happen, both on the part of the performer who may gain new insights by occupying another’s words and subject position but also on the part of the audiences who witness these performances. Our experiments in ventriloquism arise from two projects explicitly concerned with knowledge exchange in the area of sexuality research, and our insights are contextualised by the theoretical and methodological landscape of sexualities studies.
- The contemporary femme fatale: gender, genre and American cinema (2017) - Katherine Farrimond
Farrimond, Katherine (2017) The contemporary femme fatale: gender, genre and American cinema. Routledge Advances in Film Studies . Routledge. ISBN 9781138670662
The femme fatale occupies a precarious yet highly visible space in contemporary cinema. From sci-fi alien women to teenage bad girls, filmmakers continue to draw on the notion of the sexy deadly woman in ways which traverse boundaries of genre and narrative. This book charts the articulations of the femme fatale in American cinema of the past twenty years, and contends that, despite her problematic relationship with feminism, she offers a vital means for reading the connections between mainstream cinema and representations of female agency. The films discussed raise questions about the limits and potential of positioning women who meet highly normative standards of beauty as powerful icons of female agency. They point towards the constant shifting between patriarchal appropriation and feminist recuperation that inevitably accompanies such representations within mainstream media contexts.
- Identity slips: the autobiographical register in the work of Chantal Akerman (2016) - Alisa Lebow
Lebow, Alisa (2016) Identity slips: the autobiographical register in the work of Chantal Akerman. Film Quarterly, 70 (1). pp. 54-60. ISSN 0015-1386
Chantal Akerman's last film, No Home Movie (2015), deftly distills the filmmaker's key tropes—borders, exile, duration, waiting, transience, Jewishness, home—but none more so than the trope of the mother. Akerman often said that all of her work was autobiographical, even down to where to put the camera and how to frame the scene. This article explores some of her most explicitly autobiographical works (including Letters from Home , Bordering on Fiction: D'Est , Chantal Akerman par Chantal Akerman , Selfportrait / Autobiography: a work in progress , Là-bas , and No Home Movie) to trace the increasingly apparent identity slippages between the filmmaker and her mother. Going well beyond the role of mother as muse, Akerman's films reveal a merger of identification with the mother so profound that her death can be seen to have signaled not only the end of the daughter's filmmaking but potentially of her life as well.
- Queer international relations: sovereignty, sexuality and the will to knowledge (2016) - Cynthia Weber
Weber, Cynthia (2016) Queer international relations: sovereignty, sexuality and the will to knowledge. Oxford studies in gender and international relations. Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN 9780199795857
How are sovereignty and sexuality entangled in contemporary international politics? What understandings of sovereignty and sexuality inform contemporary theories and foreign policies on development, immigration, terrorism, human rights, and regional integration? How specifically is the ‘homosexual’ figured in these theories and policies to support or contest traditional understandings of sovereignty? This book puts international relations scholarship and transnational/global queer studies scholarship in conversation to address these questions and their implications for contemporary international politics. It traces how the ‘homosexual’ is conventionally figured—as either a perverse creature whom sovereign nation-states must secure themselves against or as a normal human being whom sovereign nation-states should embrace—to wield sexuality in support of conventional understandings of state sovereignty. It also traces how unconventional figurations of the ‘homosexual’ as both normal and/or perverse so defy either/or logics of sovereignty and of sexuality that these ‘normal and/or perverse homosexuals’ begin to unravel modern understandings of state sovereignty itself. By analyzing figurations of the ‘homosexual’ as the ‘underdeveloped’, the ‘undevelopable’, the ‘unwanted im/migrant’, the ‘terrorist’, the ‘gay rights holder’, the ‘gay patriot’ and Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst’s ‘bearded lady’, this book shows how the will to knowledge about the ‘homosexual’ is fundamental to contemporary international theories of sovereignty and of contemporary foreign policy.
- To whom do our bodies belong?’ Being queer in Chinese DV documentary (2015) - Luke Robinson
Robinson, Luke (2015) ‘To whom do our bodies belong?’ Being queer in Chinese DV documentary. In: Zhang, Zhen and Zito, Angela (eds.) DV-made China: digital subjects and social transformations after independent film. Critical Interventions . University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, pp. 289-315. ISBN 9780824846817
Independently produced digital documentaries about the Chinese queer community have often approached male homosexuality as performance, while deploying formally performative techniques to document their subjects. In contrast, more recent work departs from these conventions. Focusing on Fan Popo and David Cheng’s New Beijing, New Marriage, Cui Zi’en’s Queer China, Comrade China, and the webcast Queer Comrades, this chapter explores how these documentaries deploy particular qualities of digital video, such as remediation and low impedance, to refashion the relationship of the Chinese queer community to visual representation. One consequence of this development is a transition in how these works construct queer male subjectivity—from inscription to incorporation, from sexuality as performance to identity as network—a transition that also raises new questions about what is distinctly “Chinese” about Chinese queerness. This, I suggest, is arguably where the “queer politics” of these works lies.