Recent publications

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
  • “Rescripting in the shower: a theory of the shower and creative practice” (2023) - Ashley Barr

    Barr, Ashley (2023) "Re-scripting in the shower: a theory of the shower and creative practice". Issue 14 Inside/ Out (14). pp. 116-132. ISSN 2397-2947

    "Barr begins with an object which baffles the inside/outside binary: a closed shower located in the centre of the author’s own bedroom. This is taken as the jumping-off point for a wide-raging discussion of how this apparently everyday object has been assimilated into projects of colonialism and creative practice over the past two hundred years, incorporating discussions of the iconography of Imperial Leather’s advertisments alongside close readings of contemporary experimental poetry. Barr turns their subject to face all that it touches, writing in the most thrilling, copious style of modern essay-writing."

    Flynn Allott, Inside/Outside: Foreword

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  • Pathways to refugee protection for women: victims of violence or genuine lesbians?’ (2023) - Moira Dustin

    Dustin, Moira (2022) Pathways to refugee protection for women: victims of violence or genuine lesbians? Refugee Survey Quarterly. ISSN 1020-4067

    Failures in UK decision-making for women seeking protection from gender-based violence vary depending on the claimant’s (purported) sexuality. These failures are attributable, at least in part, to the application of the particular social group Refugee Convention ground which channels claims along two distinct pathways: one path, for women assumed to be straight, focuses on the violence that threatens them; in contrast, for lesbian and bisexual women, the focus is on their sexuality. In either case, the claimant’s autonomy and individuality is eclipsed, but different stereotypes come into play depending on her (imputed) sexuality. This article argues that greater use of the political opinion Convention ground, and a holistic, rights-based approach would improve refugee status determination for all women, regardless of their sexuality.

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  • Utterly unbelievable: the discourse of ‘fake’ SOGI asylum claims as a form of epistemic injustice’ (2023) - Nuno Ferreira

    Ferreira, Nuno (2023) Utterly unbelievable: the discourse of ‘fake’ SOGI asylum claims as a form of epistemic injustice. International Journal of Refugee Law, 34 (3-4). pp. 303-326. ISSN 0953-8186

    Media and political debates on refugees and migration are dominated by a discourse of ‘fake’ and ‘bogus’ asylum claims. This article explores how this discourse affects in acute ways those people claiming asylum on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). In particular, this article shows how such a discourse of ‘fakeness’ goes much beyond the well-documented often inadequate credibility assessments carried out by asylum authorities. By framing the analysis within the context of the scholarship on epistemic injustice and drawing on a large body of primary and secondary data, this article reveals how the discourse of ‘fake’ SOGI claims permeates the conduct of not only asylum adjudicators, but also of all other actors in the asylum system, including NGOs and support groups, legal representatives and even asylum claimants and refugees themselves. Following from this theoretically-informed exploration of primary data, the article concludes with the impossibility of determining the ‘truth’ in SOGI asylum cases, while also offering some guidance on means that can be employed to alleviate the epistemic injustice produced by the asylum system against SOGI asylum claimants and refugees.

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  • Structures of desire and the ‘meanings of bodies’: critical phenomenologies and Elizabeth Grosz’ theories of embodied (inter)subjectivity (2023) - LN Squire-Smith

    Squire-Smith, LN (2023) Structures of desire and the ‘meanings of bodies’: critical phenomenologies and Elizabeth Grosz’ theories of embodied (inter)subjectivity. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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  • ‘Rules of the game: sports and the gendered body in Celine Sciamma's youth films’ (2023) - Frances Smith

    Smith, Frances (2023) Rules of the game: sports and the gendered body in Celine Sciamma's youth films. French Screen Studies. pp. 1-14. ISSN 2643-895X

    Written and directed by Céline Sciamma, Naissance des Pieuvres/Water Lilies (2007), Tomboy (2011), Bande de Filles/Girlhood (2014) and Petite maman (2021) comprise Sciamma’s contribution to youth cinema, depicting children and adolescents coming of age in contemporary France. Sciamma’s work has been much discussed in relation to the body, queer youth, desire and gender fluidity. Less remarked on, though, is the number of sports and games featured in her work. Naissance is centred around a synchronised swimming team, while in Tomboy, newcomer Laure/Mickäel (Zoé Héran) finds that football offers an ideal means through which to integrate into a new neighbourhood. For its part, Bande begins with an incongruous all-female game of American football, while the film later features ritualised fights and a brief game of mini golf. Considering these competitive encounters in Sciamma’s youth films, this article argues that they serve as a significant means through which to chart their treatment of gendered norms. Taking up Judith Butler’s work on gender, the author suggests that Sciamma’s films allow for the expansion of gendered morphologies. Sports can in this framework be seen to encapsulate and transcend the constrictions on the body that these characters encounter.

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  • ‘From art history to life writing: Anna Banti's feminist resonance’ (2023) - Francesco Ventrella (co-author) 

    Ventrella, Francesco and Canziani, Cecilia (2023) From art history to life writing: Anna Banti's feminist resonance. In: Hecker, Sharon and Catherine, Ramsey-Portolano (eds.) Female Cultural Production in Modern Italy. Palgrave McMillan, pp. 83-101. ISBN 9783031148163

    This essay looks at Anna Banti’s writings on historical women artists as a feminist intervention in art history and historiography. Given the context of the feminization of professional art history in the interwar period, Banti emerges as a unique voice that crossed the boundary between scholarship and fiction. The essay pays particular attention to the role that female recognition plays within Banti’s novels, in the context of its immediate reception in the 1940s, and in relation to the feminist movement of the 1970s. By examining the way in which Banti narrated female recognition across time, the essay demonstrates how books like Artemisia (1947) have created spaces of resonance beside art history that have changed the canon of art history.

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  • ‘In Motion’ (2022) - Sara Jane Bailes 

    Blending poetry and memoir, conversation and performance theory, Black Body Amnesia: Poems and Other Speech Acts enlivens a personal archive of visual and verbal offerings written and organized by poet, performance artist, educator, and curator Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. Inspired by Audre Lorde’s concept of biomythography, Kosoko mixes personal history, biography, and mythology to tell a complex narrative rooted in a queer, Black, self-defined, and feminist imagination. 

    This collection of intertextual performance acts captures the ephemeral data often lost or edited out of Kosoko’s live performances. Developed alongside their ongoing, multi-media live art project, American Chameleon, and elaborating on the artist’s unique practice of Socio-Choreological Mapping as a means to explore queer theories of the body and its "hydraulics of grief," this book offers critical-creative frames to consider the fluid identities and lifeworlds embedded inside contemporary Black America. 

    With an introduction by editor Dahlia (Dixon) Li, and contributions by Sara Jane Bailes, mayfield brooks, Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, Ashley Ferro-Murray, Nadine George-Graves, Nile Harris, Ima Iduozee, Lisa Jarrett, Bill T. Jones, Jennifer Kidwell, Malkia Okech, Ada M. Patterson, Tracy K. Smith, and Jillian Steinhauer. 

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  • ‘The use of law in feminist activism: a governmentality analysis of the legal answers to problems of transactional sex’ (2022) - Thomas Ebbs

    Ebbs, Thomas (2022) The use of law in feminist activism: a governmentality analysis of the legal answers to problems of transactional sex. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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  • ‘Sexuality, gender and asylum: refugees at a crossroads’ (2022) - Nuno Ferreira, Moira Dustin et al. 

    Ferreira, NunoDustin, MoiraDanisi, CarmeloQuerton, Christel and Held, Nina, eds. (2022) Sexuality, gender and asylum: refugees at a crossroads. Frontiers in Human Dynamics, 4. ISSN 2673-2726

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  • Teenage Dreams: Girlhood Sexualities in the US Culture Wars (2022) - Charlie Jeffries 

    Utilizing a breadth of archival sources from activists, artists, and policymakers, Teenage Dreams examines the race- and class-inflected battles over adolescent women’s sexual and reproductive lives in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century United States. Charlie Jeffries finds that most adults in this period hesitated to advocate for adolescent sexual and reproductive rights, revealing a new culture war altogether--one between adults of various political stripes in the cultural mainstream who prioritized the desire to delay girlhood sexual experience at all costs, and adults who remained culturally underground in their support for teenagers’ access to frank sexual information, and who would dare to advocate for this in public. The book tells the story of how the latter group of adults fought alongside teenagers themselves, who constituted a large and increasingly visible part of this activism. The history of the debates over teenage sexual behavior reveals unexpected alliances in American political battles, and sheds new light on the resurgence of the right in the US in recent years.

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  • Resist, Organize, Build: Feminist and Queer Activism in Britain and the United States during the Long 1980s (2022) - Charlie Jeffries (co-editor)

    The 1980s was a period of political and social tumult in Britain and the United States. Facing resurgent conservative forces, feminist and queer activists organized in ways that not only resisted conservative hegemony but also helped to forge new communities, communications, and futures. Resist, Organize, Build casts new light on grassroots campaigns in Britain and the US, looking at feminist and queer work on university campuses, within anti-racist and anti-imperialist movements, in reframing the family, reproduction, and health, and in the establishment of new magazines, book series, and publishing houses. The collection brings together emerging and established scholars to position historical work on the two national contexts side by side, drawing out similarities and differences. Taking care to center historically marginalized voices, the collection gives students and scholars insight into and examples of the work of activist groups in a time that has many resonances with our own.

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  • ‘Is Development Work Still So Straight? Heteronormativity in the Development Sector Over a Decade On’ (2022) - Susie Jolly 

    Jolly, S. (2022) 'Is Development Work Still So Straight? Heteronormativity in the Development Sector Over a Decade On', Development in Practice, DOI: 10.1080/09614524.2022.2115012

    Eleven years ago, Susie Jolly published an article in this journal detailing the ways that international development work was heteronormative, assuming heterosexual gender stereotyped household models and framing sexuality as a problem of ill-health or violence, rather than a potentially pleasurable contributor to well-being. Over a decade later, while the sector is largely still heteronormative, LGBTI and sexual pleasure have now made an entry into development discourses. However, they have both been co-opted at least to some degree to reinforce other intersecting axes of inequality. A more productive frame for addressing sexuality would be an integrated sexual rights and sexuality politics approach.

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  • ‘Effects of the real: a conversation with Karim Aïnouz’ (2022) - Alisa Lebow

    Lebow, Alisa (2022) Effects of the real: a conversation with Karim Aïnouz. Film Quarterly, 76 (1). ISSN 0015-1386

    An interview with queer Brazilian filmmaker, Karim Ainouz, taken place in London, February 2022, while he was in preproduction for the film "Firebrand".

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  • ‘Becoming Pulau Hantu: mediating the loss and futurity of queerness through queer art and ritual’ (2022) - Lynnly Ng-Olsen

    Ng-Olsen, Lynnly Ann (2022) Becoming Pulau Hantu: mediating the loss and futurity of queerness through queer art and ritual. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

    Queer identities exist in a state of ephemeral ghostliness and futurity within dominant heteronormative frameworks. Being queer is a ‘becoming’ that must be performed in perpetuity to be visible in dominant society; however, this is a transient performance that must be continually performed into the future to be perceived and it is not guaranteed that a queer performance will be perceived with accuracy. As a multi-ethnic, feminine, queer person, assumptions of who I am and how I am expected to socially perform are heavily projected by society onto my racialised feminine self. My feminine queerness is often lost amidst strict confines of heteronormativity that render my queerness as illegible, thus leaving my queer identity unrecognisable in dominant society no matter my performance.

    This autoethnographic practice-based research sheds light on how the present is insufficient for my intersectional queerness to successfully perform and be perceived. My contextual framework explores three main topics: First I discuss the perceptibility of my intersectional queer identity and the consequences that come with being perceived through Judith Butler’s work on identity and recognition. Second, I study José Muñoz’s work on queer disidentification that discusses being queer as a utopian performance of self that must always perpetually perform away from default heteronormativity to be legible if not to fully disappear into heteronormative concepts. Third, I study queer artmaking as a worldmaking strategy and an act of resistance through Audre Lorde’s writings that prompts us to question if the prescribed dominant frameworks have to be true and that better realities can be built by believing in the power of our agency.

    My practice explores what I can do for myself in the present through artmaking processes to sustain my existence despite the persistent experiences of loss that come with minoritarian participations of society. I have employed queer art as a way to mediate the loss and futurity of my intersectional queerness in a default heteronormative society through worldmaking art practices to explore what the queering of the present can offer and entail. I have achieved this through the development and exhibition of Pulau Hantu, a multi-channel interactive video art installation. Pulau Hantu embraces the ghostliness of my presence by exploring multi-channel video installation as an ephemeral method to present and situate queer art. My practice employs abstraction as the primary method of video-making to carry out and produce a queer practice of resistance from being seen and perceived. Ideas of ritual are also adopted through abstraction, repetition, and regeneration in effort to deny the heaviness of this world from attaching itself to me.

    I argue that queer art, while potentially worldmaking, will inevitably be perceived through the mimetic faculty of recognisable concepts thus threatening its stability. If queer art, like queer performativity, inevitably suffers loss through being perceived, it is then a queer strategy to develop art that refutes perceptibility instead. My practice accepts this reality and tends away from achieving social recognition in effort to discover alternate means of existence that is not hinged on being seen. Instead, my work embraces my ghostly ephemerality and rejects recognition as a means of being freed from constricted dominant frameworks.

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  • ‘Queering genealogies: introduction to the special section’ (2022) - Kate O’Riordan (co-author)

    Reed, Elizabeth and O’Riordan, Kate (2022) Queering genealogies: introduction to the special section. Feminist Theory. pp. 1-9. ISSN 1464-7001

    This special section of Feminist Theory explores the theme of ‘Queering Genealogies’. It brings together work which explores intersections of queering, queerness, biotechnology, kinship relations, genealogy and intergenerational relations. It unites two areas of study: queer kinship studies; and queer science studies. The section was edited by Dr Elizabeth Reed and Dr Kate O’Riordan, and our focus is on queer family-making, kinship relations, genealogies and networks. The scope of the articles collected here ranges from biotechnologies such as DNA tests, IVF, gamete donation and surrogacy, to digital media platforms that facilitate new strategic, transitory and lasting relationships and make experiences of relation, genealogy and kinship. It critically engages with the ways in which kinship, genealogy and generational connection and traditions might be queered. The section contributes to a growing field and intervenes in this work of queer intellectual kinship-making through publishing research which bridges disciplinary areas and creates links between theoretical approaches.

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  • ‘Liveability, environment and policy: reflections on trans student experience of entering UK higher education’ (2022) - Kate O’Riordan (co-author) 

    O'Riordan, KateNelson, Sandra L and Jenzen, Olu (2022) Liveability, environment and policy: reflections on trans student experience of entering UK higher education. Sexualities. pp. 1-19. ISSN 1363-4607

    This article examines the intersection of lived experience and equality policy in UK Higher Education (HE), focusing on trans students’ experiences of planning for and applying to University. The research is based on participatory research with an LGBTQ+ youth project in Brighton, UK. We frame the relationship between trans identities and equalities in education in terms of liveability. The article contributes to gender and education research by foregrounding the experience of trans students on the cusp of entering HE, illustrating how they navigate challenges around environment, bureaucracy, and policy. 

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  • Trans Representation in Contemporary Popular Cinema: The Transgender Tipping Point (2022) - Niall Richardson and Frances Smith

    This book analyses how contemporary genre cinema represents trans-identified characters.

    Informed by key debates within transfeminism, queer theory, contemporary trans studies – and engaging with the concerns voiced by gender critical feminism – this culturally oriented book critiques the representation of trans characters in a range of cinematic genres, including the musical, period costume drama, the road movie, melodrama, coming-of-age stories, and romances. The case studies address the ways in which trans identifications have been coded within the narrative and stylistic expectations of the genres. Are genre films successful in affirming trans identifications or do they reinforce trans stereotypes and anti-trans discourses?

    This is a timely and accessible book, which addresses Anglophonic, European and Latin American cinemas, and is ideal for students studying courses in Film Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Studies or Gender Studies.

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  • ‘Henry James’s Temporalities’ (2022) - Pamela Thurschwell
    Thurschwell, P. (2022). Henry James’s Temporalities. In L. Reckson (Ed.), American Literature in Transition, 1876–1910 (Nineteenth-Century American Literature in Transition, pp. 324-344). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108763714.024


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  • ‘Preserving Queer Voices’ (2022) - Sharon Webb 

    Webb, Sharon (2022) Preserving queer voices. In: Stylianou-Lambert, TheopistiBounia, Alexandra and Heraclidou, Antigone (eds.) Emerging technologies and museums: mediating difficult heritage. Berghahn Books, pp. 42-64. ISBN 9781800733749

    This chapter is an exploration of work carried out to preserve and make available LGBTQI+ oral history testimonies. It describes community engagement work to archive the ‘Queer in Brighton’ collection with long-term digital preservation in mind and explores the development of ‘Queer Codebreakers’ - an interactive installation that uses a low-tech solution to make accessible and visible queer heritage and histories. In particular, if focuses on queer archiving and community curation in museum spaces as forms archival and curatorial activism and takes seriously the need to involve communities in archiving and curation processes.

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  • Covid-19 Assemblages: Queer and Feminist Ethnographies from South Asia (2021) - Paul Boyce (co-editor) 

    Banerjea, N., Boyce, P., & Dasgupta, R.K. (Eds.). (2021). COVID-19 Assemblages: Queer and Feminist Ethnographies from South Asia (1st ed.). Routledge India.

    This book documents and analyzes the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic through queer and feminist perspectives. A testament of dispossessions as well as a celebration of various forms of resilience, community building and critical responses, it chronicles the social history of queer and trans persons and women in South Asia and the diasporas.

    Through a creative and collaborative form of ethnographic writing, the book enters in conversation with the worlds of domestic helps, caregivers, cultural workers, students, sex workers and other precariously employed people. It examines the confining effects of the pandemic on the lived realities of many queer and trans individuals, the caste-oppressed and women across socio-economic backgrounds. The chapters in the volume piece together narratives of prejudice, hardship, self-expression and resistance from interviews, personal accounts, as well as poems and stories from activists, artists and other collaborators. The book pays particular attention to issues of power and asymmetrical relationships amidst COVID-19 and offers critiques to deepen the understanding of the uneven fault lines within which historically oppressed persons reside in South Asia.

    Exploring themes of migration, disability and sexual politics, this book is an essential reading for scholars and researchers of gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, South Asian studies, sociology and social anthropology.

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  • ‘Queering international refugee law’ (2021) - Nuno Ferreira (co-author)

    Ferreira, Nuno and Danisi, Carmelo (2021) Queering international refugee law. In: Costello, CathrynFoster, Michelle and McAdam, Jane (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 78-96. ISBN 9780198848639

    This chapter investigates the links between asylum law and policy and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Although human rights have been increasingly recognized irrespective of one’s SOGI at international, regional, and domestic levels, legal frameworks do not yet tackle violations of such rights effectively. As a result, members of SOGI minorities may be forced to flee their countries of origin, often making SOGI-based asylum claims in host countries. Since the inception of the Refugee Convention, there has been a continuous battle for recognition of SOGI claims, within a system that was not designed with SOGI minorities in mind. The chapter then explores key aspects of SOGI asylum that ultimately question the heteronormative relations of power in asylum law and highlights how legal and policy frameworks may be reformed. It considers how refugee law has been progressively queered, looking at the range of legal and policy instruments that play a role in this queering process. Finally, the chapter identifies the key actors that have contributed to the development of SOGI refugee law and assesses the specific needs of SOGI asylum claimants and refugees. 

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  • ‘Beyond Story: an Online, Community-Based Manifesto’ (2021) - Alisa Lebow (co-editor)
  • Remade in America Surrealist Art, Activism, and Politics, 1940-1978(2021) - Joanna Pawlik 

    It is often assumed that surrealism did not survive beyond the Second World War and that it struggled to take root in America. This book challenges both assumptions, arguing that some of the most innovative responses to surrealism in the postwar years took place not in Europe or the gallery but in the United States, where artistic and activist communities repurposed the movement for their own ends. Far from moribund, surrealism became a form of political protest implicated in broader social and cultural developments, such as the Black Arts movement, the counterculture, the New Left, and the gay liberation movement. From Ted Joans to Marie Wilson, artists mobilized surrealism’s defining interests in desire and madness, the everyday and the marginalized, to craft new identities that disrupted gender, sexual, and racial norms. Remade in America ultimately shows that what began as a challenge to church, family, and state in interwar Paris was invoked and rehabilitated to diagnose and breach inequalities in postwar America.

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  • ‘ “I’m not a Muslim. In fact, my name is Katie.”: Muslim-drag in the C4 documentary My Week as a Muslim’ (2021) - Niall Richardson

    Niall Richardson (2021) ‘I’m not a Muslim. In fact, my name is Katie.’: Muslim-drag in the C4 documentary My Week as a Muslim, Journal of Gender Studies, 30:2, 190-201, DOI: 10.1080/09589236.2020.1863196

    In the UK Channel 4 documentary, My Week As a Muslim, an English, white woman named Katie donned a hijab, a prosthetic nose and copious amounts of brown foundation to disguise herself as a Pakistani Muslim so that she could spend a week experiencing Muslim culture and appreciate her position of white privilege. Although My Week as a Muslim was attempting to challenge many of the dominant stereotypes of Muslim women found in much of Western media, it was highly problematic in the way the entire experiment echoed the narrative conventions of cross-dressing comedy films. The documentary concluded with a final ‘reveal’ sequence where Katie removed her hijab, prosthetic nose and wiped off brown make-up to show her new Muslim friends that she merely had been performing Muslim-ness for the past week. Not only did this reinforce misconceptions that there are significant differences between British people and Islam (Katie could only pass as Muslim through the use of prosthetics and elaborate make-up) but the ‘hilarious’ reveal of the cross-dressing narrative also suggested the superiority of the Muslim-drag performer in comparison to the foolish people who were deceived by the act.

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  • ‘Queer International Relations’ (2021) - Darcy Leigh, Melanie Richter-Montpetit, and Cynthia Weber 

    Leigh, DarcyRichter-Montpetit, Melanie and Weber, Cynthia (2021) Queer international relations. In: Gerber, Paula (ed.) Worldwide Perspectives on Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals. Praeger Press, California. ISBN 9781440842269

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  • Dancing on Violent Ground: Utopia as Dispossession in Euro-American Theater Dance (2021) - Arabella Stanger

    The politics of theater dance is commonly theorized in relation to bodily freedom, resistance, agitation, or repair. This book questions those utopian imaginaries, arguing that the visions and sensations of canonical Euro-American choreographies carry hidden forms of racial violence, not in the sense of the physical or psychological traumas arising in the practice of these arts but through the histories of social domination that materially underwrite them.

    Developing a new theory of choreographic space, Arabella Stanger shows how embodied forms of hope promised in ballet and progressive dance modernisms conceal and depend on spatial operations of imperial, colonial, and racial subjection. Stanger unearths dance’s violent ground by interrogating the expansionist fantasies of Marius Petipa’s imperial ballet, settler colonial and corporate land practices in the modern dance of Martha Graham and George Balanchine, reactionary discourses of the human in Rudolf von Laban’s and Oskar Schlemmer’s movement geometries; Merce Cunningham’s experimentalism as a white settler fantasy of the land of the free, and the imperial amnesia of Boris Charmatz’s interventions into metropolitan museums. Drawing on materialist thought, critical race theory, and indigenous studies, Stanger ultimately advocates for dance studies to adopt a position of “critical negativity,” an analytical attitude attuned to how dance’s exuberant modeling of certain forms of life might provide cover for life-negating practices. Bold in its arguments and rigorous in its critique, Dancing on Violent Ground asks how performance scholars can develop a practice of thinking hopefully, without expunging history from their site of analysis.

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  • ‘Falling in Love with Everyone: Lessing’s Letters to Smithie at the Keep, University of Sussex’ (2021) - Pamela Thurschwell
    Thurschwell, P. (2021Falling in Love with Everyone: Lessing’s Letters to Smithie at the Keep, University of SussexCritical Quarterly6348– 59


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  • ‘Sexuality, Sexuality, nationalism and the other: the Arabic literary canon between orientalism and the Nahḍa discourse at the Fin de Siècle’ (2020) - Feras Alkabani (he/him)

    Alkabani, Feras (2020) Sexuality, nationalism and the other: the Arabic literary canon between orientalism and the Nahḍa discourse at the Fin de Siècle. Middle Eastern Literatures, 23 (3). pp. 111-139. ISSN 1475-2638

    This article examines the dual and paradoxical conception of the Arabic literary canon in Orientalist and Nahḍa discourses in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—an era of great change and closer mutual cultural awareness between Europe and the Arab world. What Arabic literature had long signified to European scholars since Antoine Galland’s eighteenth-century translation of The Arabian Nights (mysticism, Romanticism and a platform to explore sexual taboos) was very different from how the nationalist-minded Nahḍa intellectuals wanted to reconfigure it as the hallmark of the rational “Golden Age” of Arab civilization. Sexuality became a site of contestation between certain Orientalists who praised Arab literary “frankness” and an anxious class of Arab scholars who wanted to “cleanse” the Arabic literary canon and reconfigure it in line with modern, European standards of “respectability” and “politeness.”

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  • ‘ “Being a horror fan and being a feminist are often a conflicting business”: feminist horror, the opinion economy and Teeth’s gendered audiences’ (2020) - Katherine Farrimond

    Farrimond, Katherine (2020) ‘Being a horror fan and being a feminist are often a conflicting business’: feminist horror, the opinion economy and Teeth’s gendered audiences. Horror Studies, 11 (2). pp. 149-168. ISSN 2040-3283

    Horror has long been understood as a ‘bad object’ in relation to its audiences. More specifically, this presumed relationship is a gendered one, so that men are positioned as the genre’s natural audience, while women’s engagement with horror is presented as more fractious. However, those horror films framed as feminist require a reorientation of these relations. This article foregrounds the critical reception of a ‘conspicuously feminist’ horror film in order to explore what happens to the bad object of horror within an opinion economy that works to diagnose the feminism or its absence in popular culture. Reviews of Teeth (2007), a ‘feminist horror film’ about vagina dentata, illustrate the push and pull of gendered power attached to feminist media, where empowerment is often understood in binary terms in relation to its gendered audiences. The assumed disempowerment of male audiences takes precedence in many reviews, while other narratives emerge in which Teeth becomes an educational tool that might change gendered behaviours, which directly empowers female audiences or which dupes women into believing they have been empowered. Finally, Teeth’s reviews expose a language of desire and fantasy around vagina dentata as an automated solution to the embodied experiences of women in contemporary culture. Teeth’s reviews, I argue, offer a valuable case study for interrogating the tensions in discourse when the bad object of horror is put to work for feminism.

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  • ‘Biometric capture: disrupting the digital codification of black migrants in the UK’ (2020) - Irene Fubara-Manuel

    Fubara-Manuel, Irene (2020) Biometric capture: disrupting the digital codification of black migrants in the UK. African Diaspora, 12 (1-2). pp. 117-141. ISSN 1872-5457

    The current system of the surveillance of migrants relies on biometric capture. To be captured is to be codified into machine-readable representations. This paper merges technological codifications with political discourse to explore the disproportionate capturing of black migrants in the UK. Using the historical treatment of Nigerian migrants in the UK as an illustration, this paper interrogates how contemporary technologies are used to codify and confine black migrants. This paper explores works from digital artists – Keith Piper and Joy Buolamwini – to address this codification of blackness using biometric technology. It calls for new technological cultures of coding that centre the disruption of violent systems of capture. Failure is defined as this disruption of hegemonic systems of codification and capture that aim to subjugate black communities. This paper stresses that it is only when technologies of capture fail that black and migrant communities can truly experience digital freedom.

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  • ‘ “Labouring in the image’: celebrity, femininity, and the fully commodified self in the drag of Willam Belli’ (2020) - Rachel O’Connell

    O'Connell, Rachel (2020) ‘Labouring in the image’: celebrity, femininity, and the fully commodified self in the drag of Willam Belli. Celebrity Studies, 11 (4). pp. 1-17. ISSN 1939-2397

    This essay explores the mediagenic drag style of Willam Belli, a contestant from Season 4 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race (2012) and a YouTube performer, as a set of reflections on navigating the ‘demotic turn’ (Graeme Turner) in contemporary celebrity. I propose that Willam’s drag foregrounds the work (labour) and working conditions that lie behind the ‘werq’ on Drag Race. His drag both exemplifies and comments upon the feminised ‘labour of visibility’ (Brooke Erin Duffy’s concept) and practices of self-commodification that the contemporary attention economy demands, particularly of girls, women, and feminine/femme/feminised subjects. Taking up Judith Butler’s (1990) suggestion that drag reveals the processes by which gendered identities are constructed, I argue that Willam’s drag seems to reveal how the ‘labour of visibility’ is currently constructing contemporary femininities. His output constitutes an embedded, enmeshed, and complicit commentary on the construction of a commodified, hypersexualised version of femininity in the contemporary economies of reality television, social media, and digital self-entrepreneurship.

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  • ‘Failing to see the wood for the trees: chronic sexual violation and criminal law’ (2020) - Tanya Palmer

    Palmer, Tanya (2020) Failing to see the wood for the trees: chronic sexual violation and criminal law. Journal of Criminal Law, 84 (6). p. 573. ISSN 0022-0183

    This article argues that sexual violation can take both ‘chronic’ and ‘acute’ forms. The latter, encapsulated by the offences of rape and sexual assault, refers to a discrete incident in which a victim’s sexual autonomy is violated. By contrast, the article articulates an original concept of ‘chronic sexual violation’, in which the victim’s autonomy is gradually eroded over a longer period of time, for example in an abusive relationship. In such a case it may be difficult to identify specific sexual encounters as non-consensual, and yet the victim is left with little or no control over whether and on what terms they engage in sexual activity. This conceptualisation builds on Evan Stark’s theory of coercive control, and is grounded in survivor accounts of the lived experience of sexual violation within ongoing relationships drawn from existing studies of abusive relationships, my own empirical interview data, and case law. The article contends that the limitations of law and policy responses to sexual violation within relationships can be partly explained by the illegibility of chronic sexual violation within a legal framework premised on the notion that a crime is a discrete incident. The concept of chronic sexual violation offers a way forward for crafting legal responses to this specific and pervasive form of harm, while resisting hierarchical constructions of sexual violation within intimate relationships as less serious than ‘real rape’.

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  • ‘ “What I was told about lesbians really did shock me. It can't be true, can it? You're all vegetarians?”: Greywashing Gay Shame in Pride’ (2020) - Niall Richardson

    Richardson, N., (2020) “‘What I was told about lesbians really did shock me. It can’t be true, can it? You’re all vegetarians?’: Greywashing Gay Shame in Pride”, Open Library of Humanities 6(1), 4. doi:

    Celebrated by film journalists as the feel-good film of 2014 (Kermode, 2014; Osboldstone, 2014), Pride depicted the unlikely alliance between a group of London based gay activists and the miners from a small, Welsh village during the miners’ strike of 1984. However, the film can also be read as a nostalgic representation of a specific agenda of British Gay Liberation politics in the early 1980s – a period in which one of the main trajectories of Gay Lib was to attempt to eradicate the stigma and shame from the identification of being gay. This article will argue that the film’s inclusion of the fictional character of Gwen is an effective technique of focalising the gay pride mantra through the point of view of a very endearing, older woman whose unassuming and innocent perspective on gender and sexuality politics emphasises the key point made by a faction of Gay Lib at the time: sexual object choice should be no more remarkable than a preference for a specific type of gastronomic fare. This narrative technique can identified as greywashing.

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  • Gewalt, Krieg und Flucht: Feministische Perspektiven auf Sicherheit (2020) - Melanie Richter-Montpetit (co-author)
    Daniel, A., Mageza-Barthel, R., Richter-Montpetit, M., & Scheiterbauer, T. (Eds.). (2021). Gewalt, Krieg und Flucht: Feministische Perspektiven auf Sicherheit (1st ed.). Verlag Barbara Budrich.


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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Gender and Queer Perspectives on Brexit (2019) - Moira Dustin, Nuno Ferreira and Susan Millns

    Dustin, MoiraFerreira, 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.

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  • ‘“This film is blessed by the gods”: talking with Mag Hsu, director of “Dear Ex” (Netflix, 2018)’ (2019) - Christopher Brown

    Brown, Christopher (2019) “This film is blessed by the gods”: talking with Mag Hsu, director of 'Dear Ex' (Netflix, 2018). Bright Lights Film Journal. ISSN 0147-4049

    This is an interview with the Taiwanese director Mag Hsu, in which she discusses her film film 'Dear Ex' (2018). The film is set in the aftermath of a gay man’s death, relating the conflict that develops between his wife, male partner, and young son. In the interview, Hsu discusses a range of subjects including the practicalities of making of the film, its themes of family and sexuality, and the reception of the film. The author's contextual introduction discusses how 'Dear Ex' resonated with audiences in the context of debates over the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, mounting a challenge to traditional notions of the heterosexual family.

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  • ‘Art, Vulnerability and HIV in Post-Apartheid South Africa’ (2019) - Elizabeth Mills

    Elizabeth Mills (2019) Art, Vulnerability and HIV in Post-Apartheid South Africa, Journal of Southern African Studies, 45:1, 175-195, DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2019.1569364

    This article traces the visual, spoken and unspoken accounts of South African women who worked as activists and artists for more than a decade in the struggle for HIV treatment. These accounts are drawn from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Nyanga, Crossroads and Khayelitsha in the Cape Town metropole between 2003 and 2013. The plurality of accounts drawn from this long-term ethnography speak to two intertwined tensions as they relate, first, to women’s experience of vulnerability and, second, to the representation of this vulnerability. I discuss three art forms that signify HIV-positive women’s vulnerability: photography, body-mapping, and papier-mâché art. Across all three sections, I consider the value and limitations of artistic representations of vulnerability linked to HIV in post-apartheid South Africa. I suggest that while activists can and do use art strategically to make vulnerability visible, it is also important to understand the risks that may flow from these actions in order to address the potential of further entrenching vulnerability among the very people who form the focus of these particular art forms.

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  • Gender, Sexuality and British Cinema (2019) - Niall Richardson 

    Richardson, Niall (2019) Gender, sexuality, and British cinema. In: Hill, John (ed.) Blackwell Companion to British and Irish Cinema. Wiley, London, pp. 349-371. ISBN 9781118477519

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  • ‘Thoughts on Pride: No Coal Dug’ (2019) - Lucy Robinson 

    Robinson, Lucy (2019) Thoughts on Pride: no coal dug. Open Library of Humanities, 5 (1). pp. 1-16. ISSN 2056-6700

    Pride tells the story of a group of London lesbian and gay activists who offer their support to the striking miners in Dulais, South Wales. This article reflexively uncovers the layers through which the story of LGSM has been remembered, forgotten, and re-remembered through its personal and political connections.

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  • ‘Shame and futile masculinity: feeling backwards in Henry Mackenzie’s Man of Feeling’ (2019) - Michael Rowland 

    Rowland, Michael (2019) Shame and futile masculinity: feeling backwards in Henry Mackenzie’s Man of Feeling. Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 31 (3). pp. 529-548. ISSN 0840-6286

    Eighteenth-century masculinity, despite some important interventions in recent decades, remains an underdeveloped area in literary studies of the period. This essay seeks to redress the balance by reconsidering a now canonical text, the popular sentimental novel The Man of Feeling (1771), in light of the insights that theories of queerness and affect, particularly shame, have to offer to historical studies of masculinity. My argument takes as its starting point the contention that all normative social structures must incorporate, rather than entirely expel, the non-normative in order to function. Engaging with theorists including Lee Edelman and Heather Love, I argue that Harley, the hero of Henry Mackenzie’s novel, should be understood as an embodiment of weak sexualization, a figure who refuses the positive progress of capital accumulation for wilful oblivion. In doing so, the essay provides new ways of thinking through eighteenth-century ideas of masculinity that demonstrate that the queer, the backward, and the weak are integrated within normative con temporary discourses of the masculine, rather than excluded from them.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.”

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  • The cover version: researching sexuality through ventriloquism (2018) - Ester McGeeney, Lucy Robinson, Rachel Thomson and Pam Thurschwell

    McGeeney, ERobinson, LThomson, R and Thurschwell, P (2018) The cover version: researching sexuality through ventriloquism. In: Morris, CharlotteBoyce, PaulCornwall, AndreaFrith, HannahHarvey, 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.

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