Gendered Voices Issue One - From SWW DTP Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster

Page 1

About Us


About the Gender and Sexualiy Research Cluster

ello, it is Tabitha Johnson-Stanmore here, current co-leader of the Gender and Sexuality Cluster. Welcome to the very first edition of our magazine! This is among the latest projects of the cluster and it’s fantastic to see so many exciting developments.

Since the Cluster’s foundation by Maria Tomlinson and Sophie Payne in 2015, the group has grown from strength to strength. The greatest success of the last academic year was the Gender and Sexuality Cluster’s interdisciplinary symposium, which brought together PGRs from across different academic fields to discuss research on the broad theme of ‘Gendered Spaces’. Some really interesting dialogue was fostered across disciplines, and both speakers and delegates commented on how friendly, stimulating, and inclusive the event was. In September 2016, Sophie and Maria passed the baton of leadership on to Jassi Sandhar and myself, and we are determined to build on their hard work. I am now in my second year of my History PhD, where I’m researching gender and its influence on social perceptions of magic in late medieval


Image Credit Maria Tomlinson

England. Jassi is in the first year of her PhD in Law, researching the challenges in providing legal protection to girls during and post-conflict in Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone. This academic year has seen the cluster grow, with a new injection of ideas and enthusiasm from SWW DTP students old and new. Lucy Elkerton is heading a budding reading group, which has already had one successful meeting in January, with many more planned over the months to come. We are also organising a second conference, this time themed on ‘Gendered Voices’, due to take place in Bristol in May. We have some excellent papers lined up, plus Thangam Debonnaire MP as keynote speaker, so we look forward to seeing many of you there! Finally, of course, we have this exciting new literary venture which I hope that you all enjoy. If you would like to be involved in any of the above projects, or have an idea that you would like to implement, please get in touch with either Jassi or myself using the cluster’s email address. For now, we wish all success to Gendered Voices!


Where to find our cover articles Find our report on last year’s symposium ‘Gendered Spaces’ on page 31.

‘Slavery and Sexual Violence’ by Elizabeth Maeve Barnes on page 10.

‘Masculinity and Theatre Research’ by Nick Havergal on page 5.

‘Becoming a Feminist Scholar’ by Sophie Payne on page 9.

‘Show Me What Democracy Looks Like’ The Women’s March on Washington on page 15.


About Gendered Voices Contents p. 2 Our Contributors p. 3 Editorial p. 4 Our Voices Masculinity and Theatre Research p. 5 Turning the Pages with Tongs p. 6 Imagery p. 7 The Myth of Femal Emancipation in Tunisia p. 8 Becoming a Feminist Scholar p. 9 Slavery and Sexual Violence p. 10 Coastal historiographies of the Indian Ocean p. 11 Guest Article: Speech and Language Therapy p. 13 Perception of Gender Studies as a Female Domain p. 14 “Show Me What Democracy Looks Like!” p. 15 Breaking the Taboo: Menstruation in Francophone Women’s Writing’ p. 18 Three Ways my Gender Makes Me A Better Researcher p. 19 Top Gender and Sexuality Twitter Accounts p. 20

The Difficulties and Unexpected Advantages of Being a Woman Filmmaker Activism and the Gendered Politics of Translation Gendered Hours Priviledged Defences Gender Neutral Natural Science Gendered Reslience “Framing Effects’ and Their Impact on our Perceptions of Gender The Wonderful World of Roman Gender Researching Sex Offenders: The Experience of A Female Researcher

p.21 p.22 p.23 p.24 p.25 p.26 p.27 p.28 p.29

Events Our 2017 Symposium ‘Gendered Spaces’ - A Report Upcoming Events University of Reading - Gender and Sexuality Research Network Events University of Southampton Gender and Sexuality Forum Calls for Papers Chawton House Library Events Bibliography and Reading Suggestions Reading Group and Contact Us

p.30 p.31 p.33 p.35 p.36 p.37 p.44 p.46 p.47


Contributors Maria Tomlinson: General Editor Maria is a third year AHRC PhD student at the universities of Reading and Bristol. Her PhD examines the representation of female bodily experiences in contemporary women’s writing from Algeria, France, and Mauritius; these include menstruation, miscarriage, and the menopause. Maria teaches French literature, film, art, and history. Rebecca James Design Editor Rebecca is a first year SWW DTP PhD student at the University of Southampton and co-supervised at the University of Cardiff. Her research focuses on the image of the pirate in eighteenth-century literature, focusing on the figure in relation to contemporaries like the highwayman and the privateer. Lucy Elkerton: Writer Lucy is a Classics student with a background in Archaeology, currently in the third year of her PhD at the Universities of Bristol and Southampton. Her thesis currently has the working title ‘Images of Gender in Roman Iberia’: her research centres on the mosaics of Roman Spain, and how we can talk about gender in this provincial context. Annabel Davis: Guest Writer Annabel Davis is a Speech and Language Therapist working with children across mainstream and special schools in Oxfordshire. Prior to this, she worked as a speech and language therapist treating adults in an acute setting in Birmingham. Ayan Salaad Writer Ayan is a third year AHRC funded PhD student based at the Universities of Southampton and Reading. Ayan’s project focuses on the ways in which national and diasporic identity is constructed in the literature of coastal communities, and in particular the Banaadiri community, who live on the Somali coast. Ayan is collecting poetry from Somali poets whom she is also interviewing. Liz Barnes Writer Liz Barnes is an AHRC-funded research student based at the University of Reading and Cardiff University. She is researching sexual violence against enslaved and newly emancipated women in the 19th century US South, focusing in particular on how women responded to, and resisted, such violence. Ruth Abou Rached Writer Ruth Abou Rached is a PhD candidate at the Centre of Translation and Intercultural Studies at the University of Manchester. Her AHRC-funded research project is part of the NWCDTP consortium. Her forthcoming article is ‘Feminist Paratranslation as Literary Activism: Iraqi Writer-Activist Haifa Zangana in the Post-2003 US’ Feminist Translation Studies: Local and Transnational Perspectives (2017) Routledge. Sophie Payne Writer Sophie is a final year PhD student at the University of Reading. Her thesis is a linguistic study of


mediated representations of contemporary feminist protest in Germany and the UK. She also coorganises Reading’s Gender and Sexuality Research Network, which runs weekly seminars led by postgraduate students. Sarah Osmond Smith Writer Sarah is a second year English PhD student from the University of Southampton. She is funded by the Wolfson Foundation and supervised by Dr Stephen Bending. Sarah is currently researching descriptions of ‘well-employed’ and ‘wasted’ time in eighteenth-century women’s writing. Ella Whiteley Writer Ella Whiteley is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Rae Langton. Their current research interests revolve around feminist theory and the philosophy of science; in particular, their thesis focuses on how recent advancements in the philosophy of biology might prove useful to feminists. Mhairi Gavin Writer Mhairi is a third year PhD candidate in the Law School at the University of Strathclyde. She has recently completed her fieldwork interviewing sex offenders in prison. Her thesis considers the environment this group find themselves in, how they adapt to this, and what concerns them while in prison. The formation of community amongst this population is a central focus, with consideration given to the difficulties in developing this community and the benefits derived from it for this heavily stigmatised, and thus often excluded, group. Ana Tomcic Writer Ana Tomcic is currently a second-year PhD candidate at the University of Exeter. Her research focuses on psychoanalysis and women’s writing in the modernist period. In particular, it examines psychoanalytic theories of social violence and how these were assimilated and reinterpreted in the works of Bryher, H.D. and Djuna Barnes. Nick Havergal Writer Nick is a first-year PhD student based at the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter. He is broadly interested in the synergies between masculinity studies and theatre and performance research. He is currently looking at the relationship between masculinity-in-crisis and popular performance in the South West of England from 1890-1930. He is also a playwright and has most recently been on attachment at Bristol Old Vic, and continues to work with Bristol-based new writing company Theatre West. Elena Dirstaru Writer Elena is a documentary filmmaker and a PhD researcher at the University of Essex, studying towards getting a PhD in Film by Creative Practice. Her work focuses on documenting movements for women’s rights, and her most recent films, Monashay (2013) and But They Can’t Break Stones (2015) focus on women’s rights in the Roma community, and in rural Western

Nepal, respectively. They have been screened internationally at film festivals. Joe Higgins Writer Joe is an AHRC-funded PhD researcher on the SASP (University of St. Andrews and University of Stirling Philosophy) programme. His research focuses on the phenomenological illumination of issues within cognitive science, particularly focusing on social cognition and the nature of human selfhood. Kate Tinson Writer Kate Tinson is a AHRC PhD student at Cardiff University in Religious Studies and Theology. Her main focus is comparing the character of Moses in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an. She is also interested more widely in Comparative Religion, Qur’anic, Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. Ruby Kite Writer Ruby Kite is an MPhil student of French at the University of Bristol, with a particular interest in and passion for contemporary women’s writing in French. Her current dissertation investigates the ways in which Annie Ernaux self-heals from the traumas that she depicts in her work, while at PhD level, her research will aim to explore the liberatory role that autobiography plays in francophone African women’s writing Nicola Pearson Writer ln September 2016 Nicola began her PhD at the universities of Bristol and Bath. Her current project is on Tunisian women’s life-narratives in French (1974-2016). She is exploring how recent generations of women have engaged with key events in their country’s history through lifenarrative, from the overthrow of French colonialism in 1956 to the 2011 revolution and the country’s ongoing transition to democracy. Amy King Writer Amy King is a third year PhD student in the Italian department at the University of Bristol. Her thesis explores ideas of secular martyrdom in 20th century Italy. She has just returned from a fellowship at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Before starting the PhD, she worked as a journalist. Gareth Mills Writer Gareth Mills is an English Literature doctoral student for the South West and Wales Consortium, based at the University of Reading. He writes on twentieth century poetry and prose with a focus on literary theory and book history. His thesis is on the novels of Wyndham Lewis. Catherine McDermott Writer Cat McDermott is an AHRC-funded doctoral researcher in the English department at Manchester Metropolitan University. Initially inspired by research highlighting the intersections between neoliberal and postfeminist subjectivities, Cat’s research develops and contextualises these interests using affect theory to inform her analysis of how popular media constructs contemporary femininities.


Dear readers


A warm welcome to the very first issue of “Gendered Voices” brought to you by the Gender and Sexuality Cluster of the SWWDTP (South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership). The cluster has now been running for around two years. It was set up by Sophie Payne (whose article you can enjoy in this issue) and Maria Tomlinson (your general editor for this issue). Maria has taken an interest in gender since, at the age of 6, she was told off by a dinner lady who, upon noticing that she was playing football, informed her that it was only for boys. This made Maria into the feminist she is today (but sadly not the talented footballer she hoped to be). Sophie and Maria bonded over their shared passion for discussing all things gender and sexuality. We decided to set up a research network at the University of Reading (you can find out more about the Reading Gender and Sexuality Network in this magazine – it is still going very strong, with talks most Mondays of the academic term). After hosting a few meetings during which fellow postgraduates presented their research, we decided that we wanted to involve the whole of the SWWDTP in our discussions about gender and sexuality - and so the Gender and Sexuality cluster was born! We started off cluster proceedings with a networking day during which SWWDTP funded PhDs gave ten minute presentations about how their research explores gender and/or sexuality. We finished the day with a round table discussion. Next, in May 2016, came the very first symposium: ‘Gendered Spaces’. The event was organised by Sophie, Maria, Tabitha Johnson-Stanmore and Charlotte Skull. The theme was suggested by Ayan Salaad who has written an article on Somali literature for this issue. The day was a roaring success, with a variety of 20 minute talks and 5 minute flash papers and attracted postgraduates from the SWWDTP and beyond. You can read more about the symposium in a report written by Tabitha and Charlotte towards the end of the magazine. Sophie and Maria have now handed over the cluster into the very capable hands of Tabitha and Jassi Sandhar, and since then, Lucy Elkerton has set up a reading group. You can read her report about the very first meeting in this magazine, and enjoy a cup of tea over her article on Roman gender. The next event the cluster is organising is the ‘Gendered Voices’ conference taking place in May. We do hope to see a lot of you there where, alongside the papers, we will be discussing the articles you are about to discover in this magazine. In November 2016, Rebecca James (our design editor) joined the Gender and Sexuality cluster and suggested that we start a magazine. Maria was particularly thrilled by this and the pair decided to edit the magazine together. Rebecca has brought to the magazine her skills including layout, Photoshop, and other design and techy things. Maria has contributed to the magazine by editing the articles, taking photographs, and designing the logo which Rebecca has improved into the form you see on the front cover. We’ve both made decisions on what to include in the issue. We decided to set up the magazine in order to promote research pertaining to gender and sexuality not only to those involved in research but also to those outside academia who have an interest in the subject.

You may have already started to notice something about PhD students and their interest in gender from reading this editorial: all of the people mentioned above are female! This is not a deliberate finger up to the patriarchy. It is undeniable that the majority of the people who take part in our cluster activities are women. We definitely need to encourage more men to be involved in discussions about gender. Masculinity is often ignored in favour of femininity when it too is something constructed by society. We would like to thank our three male contributors in this issue, as well as our writers who engage in issues of masculinity. We have also observed that there is generally a lack of diversity among AHRC funded students in terms of ethnicity. This is an issue that needs to be addressed much earlier by encouraging a diverse range of students to explore humanities subjects to postgraduate level. Here at the Gender and Sexuality cluster we promote and encourage diversity in the Arts and Humanities. We hope this is evident in our range of articles and contributors. The theme of the magazine is ‘How Gender and/or Sexuality Impacts Research’. We asked our writers to consider either how gender and/or sexuality plays a role in their research or how their own gender or sexuality has influenced their experience of research. Our call for submissions attracted a lot of interest and wide-ranging responses. We hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as we did when we were editing them. Rebecca and Maria also view the magazine as an opportunity for the academic community to engage with recent political events which concern gender and/or sexuality. To this end, we have included a piece by fellow SWWDTP student Amy King about her experiences at an anti-Trump march in the US. We hope you enjoy her photos, and learning about her experiences. We have also created this magazine in order to give the opportunity to non-academics to write articles about speech and gender. We hope to include a guest writer article in every issue. Our guest writer series is being kicked off by Annabel Davis who works as a speech and language therapist. As well as providing you with a lot of interesting articles to read, we’d also like for you to see us as a one-stop shop for gender and sexuality related events. Check out the back of our magazine for upcoming conferences, seminar series, and calls for papers. We’ve even included some twitter accounts for you to follow. Our magazines will also be a way for you to keep up to date with the Gender and Sexuality cluster – we’ll include conference reports and upcoming events etc. We would like to thank all of you who have contributed to this magazine such as our writers, photographers (including Asha Lane Photography), and models. Maria would like to thank fellow Reading PhD students Michaela, Adnan, Verity, Will, Sam, Robyn, and Sami for modelling for the magazine. They did a very good job of pretending to discuss gender and sexuality while Maria photographed them. We believe that this issue shows off the wide range of exciting postgraduate research which is taking place in the UK today. We hope you enjoy it!

Maria Tomlinson (General Editor) and Rebecca James (Design Editor)


Our Voices

Masculinity and Theatre Research

Nick Havergal


t’s 2005 (ish) and one of my best friends punches me in the stomach repeatedly, rugby-tackles me against a wall, and leaves me lying on the floor. I’m doubled-up in pain and apparently coughing up blood.

I have to save face. I struggle to my feet, stagger over to him and attempt to punch him back. But it’s too little, too late. He’s seen red. He grabs my flailing wrist, twists me round in a headlock and breaks my neck in one clean snap. I’m dead. Murdered by one of my best friends. Everyone that’s watching gasps – it should never have gone this far. I’m only fifteen, for crying out loud. My body is dragged away by two sixth-formers.

Specifically, my research is motivated by two central questions: (1) what happened to dominant constructions of male bodies when they were put through extreme levels of physical and emotional stress due to the Second Boer War and especially the First World War; and (2) what did theatre and live performance in South West England offer as a means of recuperating or contesting gendered norms that other cultural practices did not, or could not? Following the end of the Second Boer War in 1902, it became clear that boys and young men (in the South West and elsewhere) were not physically or apparently ‘morally’ ready for the responsibilities of an anticipated World War. Alongside other social organisations such as scouting, this problem kick-started efforts to demonstrate the physical capabilities of the British male body on popular performance stages, framing it in terms of a spectacle with the intention of inspiring self-improvement amongst participants and audience members.


A playbill from 1905 for a variety performance at The Empire Theatre in Bristol, for instance, advertises the ‘special engagement’ of the ‘champion wrestler of England’ Tom McInerney, offering audiences the chance to fight him in the ‘catch-as-catch-can’ style, with an incentive to win money if they are not defeated within the first three minutes (and a possible £50 top prize if they manage an outright victory).2 ‘Acts’ such as this at variety performances promoted a specific hegemony of male bodies where strength and endurance were revered and financially rewarded. Failure to measure up, of course, would be displayed and emphasised in a distinctly public, theatrical way.

When I think about why I find the dynamics between masculinity and theatre so fascinating, I always come back to how difficult it was at my school for teachers to engage boys in performing arts classes. Stage combat (essentially simulated violence) was probably the aspect of theatre craft that got the most enthusiastic attention – certainly from both sexes, but there was undoubtedly a sharper increase in interest from the male contingent of the class.1 Whilst I don’t think fighting naturally appeals to some essential male quality and therefore all men are innately violent thugs, there could be something telling about the way in which the body is gendered through battle in, say, Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, particularly when such a brawl is constructed and presented to an audience in a framework of ‘play’ and imagination. In other words, it was kind of fun to beat the crap out of each other in this real-yet-notreal scenario (and it was apparently fun to watch). The school drama studio, and theatre spaces in general, offer a unique liminal arena in which the physical aspects of masculinity – and the anxieties they inspire – can be rehearsed, performed, and scrutinised.

Theatre research can be seen to occupy something of a unique position when it comes to the analysis of gender and sexuality, as the primary object of study is a live event that specifically sits between the ‘real’ and ‘not-real’. Consequently, the theatre generates an imaginative space in which all kinds of identity – including gender - might be either reinforced or contested. British theatre and performance-making has a particularly rich track record of work that ‘troubles’ the oppressive borders of heteronormative masculinity and this has been notably true in contexts of profound social and political crisis. Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur, for instance, which premiered in 2005, imagines Bethnal Green in the midst of all-out nuclear war in which the bonds between the teenage male protagonists switch erratically between open sexual affection and outright violence. Ridley’s play imagines a deliberately warped, hyperreal masculinity reflective of the desperate conditions in which the characters attempt to survive. Crisis implies a direct threat to the established social order and through its liveness the theatre has a very precise ability to ‘stage’ the effects of crisis on gendered bodies and minds.

The lights go down. I get to my feet, dust myself off and walk away to the changing room. I’m no longer Patroclus getting beaten to a pulp by Hector. And I realise that is probably the most fun I will ever have on stage.

1 The girls were understandably not best pleased that previously only boys got to do the fun stuff and fight in school productions. In the interests of equal opportunities and upholding a non-essentialist attitude towards gender, in Antony and Cleopatra the following year the ratio of male to female fight scenes became more or less 50/50. 2 See Hallet, T (2000), Bristol’s Forgotten Empire: The History of the Empire Theatre, Badger Press: Westbury


Image Credit Donald Tong

Our Voices

Turning the Pages with Tongs

Gareth Mills


ealing with some secondary sources can leave writers less in need of washing their hands afterwards than bathing them in radiation.

There’s a line you might hear in Literature Departments about an introduction to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando that described her as ‘the wife of Leonard Woolf’. True or not, its sentiment was for myself and many others the first in an unfinished sequence of life-long realisations about gender. Starting their education in the arts, many young men, and some young women, are vocal in paying respects to feminisminfluenced scholarship while seeing their own interests as gender neutral. Yet, discovering Virginia-the-Spouse in the introduction to her own very brilliant novel punctured my thin-skinned and actually rather privileged objectivity: now the book felt dirty – and dangerous. When analysing literary texts, most contemporary critics have at least one eye on ramifications for gender. Imagine reading Romeo and Juliet on a neutral-sounding mission to trace the fictional Italian social power relations against a bold outline of the Elizabethan counterparts with which the audience would have been familiar. The revelation by Juliet’s nanny that she is also her wet nurse, ‘when it did taste the wormwood on the nipple / Of my dug and felt it bitter’ would be of great interest: the earthy, bodily language of the low status nurse would contrast with Juliet’s well-known wooing at the ball where she is a ‘rich jewel … too rich for use’. This could be expanded into an argument about how phallocentric evaluations of female body parts come to define their lexical associations and would enrich the original investigation about sociological similarities across cultures – which is why academics pay attention to it in literature.

Virginia-as-Housewife though, isn’t part of Orlando, but embedded in the biographical blurb that contextualises the novel, jolting me out of my comfortable ‘genderless’ assumptions as an undergraduate. A vast body of scholarly studies exists as a crucial shortcut to engaging with texts in an original way and prevents needlessly re-treading old readings as well as lines of discussion. Biographies, even small ones attached to the start of re-prints and new editions, are part of this body. In large quantities, these comments and ways of thinking amount to a secondary crust around the texts created by the assumptions and sexual politics of previous academics and biographers, however innocently (usually) they wrote them. Researchers, on the other hand, will apply many of their analytical principles to secondary sources (even if not as diligently as to the primary work). There is something of a consensus, or at least awareness of this problem – nobody expects paeans to female suffrage from Monkish 15th century criticism on Chaucer, for example – and after the years and years of realisations spiralling from my Virginia-is-SomeGuy’s-Wife moment, sparked by newspapers, the mouths of friends and especially my own behaviour, I have become better at recognising and dealing with it. Recently, I had the

unpleasant experience of coming across an example that set back the clock to that undergraduate seminar with force. I mostly write about Twentieth Century poetry and prose, currently novelist and painter Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). The depiction and use of femininity in his novels is complex and in no way a straightforward or violent misogyny. Although it does remain grossly at odds with modern ethics, it is my job to examine it and to understand it. As I mentioned, it does in fact have powerful significance, perhaps more so the less I (as a modern reader) agree. The five books about his life itself overlap to varying degrees, repeat information and contradict each other while pursuing the standard biographical aim. Now, I approached these sources in a typically cynical way, especially the 1980 book by a serial biographer considered the most ‘conventional’ and therefore most likely to contain the kind of intellectually subversive messages about gender. Whether it was my continuing naiveté about the extent of this issue bedded in the structure of academic history or that this is a particularly egregious example I don’t know, but I was surprised by the chapter titled ‘Women and Marriage’, which reads as if it were a commentary on a Victoria’s Secret catwalk by an abnormally perverted host. ‘She had short fair hair, large sapphire eyes, pale ivory skin, taut feline features, high cheekbones and a long, bone-thin, tensile body that resembled a cheetah’, drools the biographer. Lewis is later referred to as her ‘conqueror’. A mischievous endnote follows this description, promising some justification for this evaluation. But the note leads to further commentary by another writer on the woman’s appearance, this time a detailed run through of the rigours of old age: ‘hers was not merely the fashionable skeleton silhouette. It was a kind of premature withering, like an apple left too long on a fruit-dish’. It goes on to describe her ‘virginal pathos’ that gives her the ‘appearance … of a school boy’. ‘Shapely’ and ‘exquisitely modelled’ heads are especially frequent, surfacing disembodied from the people to whom they once belonged, as if decapitated. The sweep of the anatomical gaze even takes in Gladys Lewis, the author’s mother who at sixteen, we are disturbingly informed, had ‘a good figure’ and ‘a full sensitive mouth’. There are those who will argue that in studying periods of history without photographic evidence, physical descriptions of dead people are an important way of preserving the past, just as Virginia Woolf’s marriage was an important factor in her life. Yet, highly sexualised (and bizarre) descriptions of women’s bodies are more telling of the source than the person in question. In the world history presents us, nothing is gender neutral. My time spent among these chronicles has taught me to be very wary of anything that appears to be. When something really odious surfaces from the representational shell we form around the past, it is best to keep the books at arm’s length, straining for objectivity and turning the pages with tongs.


Our Voices

Article: Masculinity and Theatre Research: “Two boys boxing at a fair or fete, with a crowd watching, likely in or near Bristol, c.1910.” Reproduced with permission from Bristol Archives: 43207/22/20/29.

Article: The Myth of Female Emancipation in Tunisia: Picture taken from Dora Latiri’s Un amour de tn: Carnet photographique d’un retour au pays natal après la Révolution (Tunis: Elyzad, 2013)


Our Voices

The Myth of Female Emancipation in Tunisia?


fter Tunisia gained its independence from France in 1956, President Bourguiba introduced many reforms in family law that enabled Tunisian women to acquire some of the most advanced legal rights in the Arab world.1 However, scholars have since claimed that the changes were not based on a genuine desire to address gender equality but on a strategy that would enable the country’s dictatorships to stay in power. Some say that President Bourguiba viewed female labour primarily as a way of stimulating economic growth, while President Ben Ali used women’s rights as a way of co-opting regime critics and gaining favour with the West.2 As such, women’s rights were often used as ‘political commodities to be traded and exchanged between male leaders of various political groups.’3 As the women’s rights reforms did not spring from an organic movement at a grass-roots level, it was difficult for citizens to change their ways of life to accommodate the feminist reforms that were being strategically imposed from above.4 Indeed, many Muslims felt that they went against Sharia law and ‘violated the religiously sanctioned existence of gendered complementary spheres for men and women’.5 Dora Latiri, a distinguished academic and writer from Tunisia, has argued that this form of state-directed feminism created tensions and conflict between men and women at a local level.6 While both dictators supported the concept of Tunisia as a Muslim country, they also both took measures to limit the influence of religion in society. This was arguably another tactic to preserve their autocratic regimes in Tunisia. Women were prohibited from wearing the veil in public spaces, including state-owned schools and universities and, while some Western critics might view these changes as a step towards promoting women’s rights, it is important to realise that many women felt that their freedom to choose to wear the veil had been forcibly stripped away from them. In the wake of the 2011 Tunisian revolution, the uprisings that sparked the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, an Islamist party called ‘Ennahdha’ came to power in the country’s first ever democratically held elections. Tasked with drafting the postrevolution constitution, it attempted to implement a new line claiming that Tunisian women are ‘complementary’ to rather than equal to male citizens.7 However, the proposed changes were met with protests from citizen groups fighting to maintain

Nicola Pearson

the rights that women had acquired more than half a century earlier. This event demonstrates that women’s place in Tunisian society is still a hotly contested subject that divides public opinion. Furthermore, the 2011 revolution and the resulting lift of the ban on veiling allowed women a new freedom to wear what they wanted. Mona Eltahawy has claimed that there was an increase in veiling in the aftermath of the events and also raises concerns about women being forced by religious groups to wear the hijab.8 Although the more liberal groups in Tunisia hoped that the revolution would bring in more gender equality, we can see that the new democracy has allowed some of the more conservative and patriarchal religious values to gain ground in certain sectors of Tunisian society, including the political sphere. The issue of women’s equality in Tunisia clearly intersects with debates about the place of religion in politics, and also debates between Muslims about how the Coran should be interpreted regarding gender roles and veiling. In my research project on Francophone women’s life-narratives from Tunisia, I am looking at how women engage with questions of gender and sexuality. Particularly, I am interested in how women’s bodies are often ‘subject to cultural coding’9 and caught up in power struggles between dictators, religious groups, Western liberals, secularists, and neocolonialists. Looking at life-narratives from the 1970s to the present day, I am exploring how women have contested patriarchal values and used art and literature as arenas through which they can voice their own concerns and privilege the specificities of their female subjectivities in a male-dominated society. Indeed, while Tunisia has often been heralded as the most advanced country in the Arab world in terms of women’s rights, and is now praised for being the birth-place of the ‘Arab Spring’, female artists and writers help foreground the complexities and contingencies of a supposedly progressive period of recent Tunisian history.

1 Elisabeth Johansson-Nogués, ‘Gendering the Arab Spring? Rights and (in)security of Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan women’, Security Dialogue, 44, 5-6 (2013), 393-409 (p.397). 2 Johansson-Nogués, ‘Gendering the Arab Spring?’ (p.397). 3 Amel Grami, ‘Gender Equality in Tunisia’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 35, 3 (2008), 349-361(p.359). 4 Charrad, States and Women’s Rights, p.233. 5 Clancy-Smith, Tunisian Revolutions, p.35. 6 Dora Latiri, interview with the author, 17/06/2016. 7 Khedija Arfaoui, ‘Womens empowerment: the case of Tunisia in the Arab Spring’ in Multiculturalism in North Africa: Aftermath of the Arab Spring, ed. by Moha Ennaji (New York: Routledge, 2014), 159-175 (p.167). 8 Eltahawy, Headscarves and Hymens, p.72. 9 Lloyd, ‘Embodiment and Performing the ‘Self’ in Contemporary Algerian Art’ (p.71)


Our Voices

Becoming a Feminist Scholar Or, Everything you ever loved is awful Sophie Payne


irstly, a disclaimer: this article doesn’t quite fit the brief about ‘how gender/sexuality impacts research’, apart from that feminism was always an instinctive lens for my self-understanding as a female human being. It also can quite easily be for anyone, not just scholars, but I have found the issues I discuss below have become more acute as I have engaged with feminist scholarship. This article is actually a warning; a warning that embarking on a feminist path is a one-way street that leads to a confusing, contradictory labyrinth of feelings, thoughts, second guesses, and hesitant actions. But once you have started on that path there is no way back. Feminism is, by nature, oppositional. You are disagreeing with the status quo. Sara Ahmed (2010) captures it beautifully with her image of being sat at the dinner table and the rest of the family roll their eyes as you ‘go on another rant’.1 Or, as a friend of mine once sighed after saying something sexist in front of me: “Oh s***, I forgot about the feminist.” Popular culture is a place of refuge for most of us. Turning on the TV after a day at work, going to the cinema at the weekend, listening to music on a monotonous walk somewhere: these are ways we switch off, relax, and entertain ourselves. It’s also where feminism haunts me the most. Be prepared to roll your eyes at yourself as you get uncomfortable watching that crime thriller you used to love: how many women is it they’ve killed now? Glorious young women, lain out beautifully with a bit of blood artfully arranged around their lily-white faces. You start totting up numbers of women in other places too: one woman and three men in that credit card advert; all male pairings in this show, that show, that film… Have they made the animal/ monster/alien sidekick of the male main character in that animated film female?! That’s great! Oh, no… no. Of course they haven’t. That would be progress. This is just basic representation of women as existing human beings, the lowest possible measure, let alone bringing in more complex and utterly necessary intersections of race, class, and sexuality of these women. 1


You love the tune of that song, but it legitimises male sexual voracity and female sexual passivity. You skip the song when the lyrics get problematic. You hear that an actress had to drink alcohol before filming a sex scene because she was so nervous, and now you will never watch that film. The emotional toll of a minority political position is not to be underestimated. I pretty much gave up expressing my opinion around my family after the last discussion, around five years ago, ended with my mum and I both crying our eyes out in frustration in separate rooms: she couldn’t understand why I thought make up was a bad thing if it made women feel better about themselves; I couldn’t get her to see that my issue is why it makes women feel better about themselves. Recently, however, I have found the courage to sometimes speak up at the table again. I end this article on a note of hope, as I realise that my arguing has very slightly, over time, filtered in to the minds of my nearest and dearest. I haven’t won them over to the feminist cause completely, but it seems that they have my voice in there too, as a point of contradiction, a pause for thought. My mother occasionally seeks me out for a counter position to what she hears elsewhere. At Christmas, we were playing a game that allowed male and female characters (that’s progress, surely?) and my youngest sister insisted, grinning at me, that everyone be female because “we’re feminists, remember?” She wouldn’t call herself a feminist, and she probably wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been there, but she took a feminist position nonetheless. Trying to live to your feminist principles is a struggle. I often have to pick between disagreeing with my friends and family and them getting cross with me, or getting cross with myself as I choose harmony over expressing my opinion; I don’t think I get the balance right. My engagements with popular culture are carefully managed and I still spend quite a lot of time on tenterhooks waiting to be irritated or disappointed. This, of course, is a reminder of the importance of solidarity amongst women, amongst feminists. So, if after this warning you still choose to embark on that walk down the one-way street of feminism, make sure you seek out some travelling companions to make the journey easier.

Ahmed, S. (2010). Feminist Killjoys (And Other Willful Subjects). The Scholar and Feminist Online, 8.

Our Voices

Slavery and Sexual Violence Finding Women’s Voices in the Archives Elizabeth Maeve Barnes


Often, the perspective of the enslaved must be deduced from reading fragments of accounts crafted from a white perspective. Enslaved women described by whites as the mistresses or concubines of slaveholders, for example, were probably the victims of coercion, threats or violence.

The voices of victims of sexual violence are particularly difficult to uncover. Prevailing attitudes in the nineteenth-century South towards chastity and the nature of rape meant that very few women made believable victims of sexual assault. The very restricted legal definition of rape means that court records exclude many incidents of sexual violence. As in all contexts, psychological trauma, alongside feelings of guilt or shame, rendered many women incapable of speaking out about their experiences. For my subjects, these problems are further compounded by the specific cultural context in which they lived. The legal status of enslaved people – as the property of slaveholders – meant that across the South, there was no law against raping enslaved women. This lack of legal protection both resulted from and reinforced racial attitudes, which deemed all black men and women hypersexual and promiscuous. Black women were thus legally and physically unrapeable – they were always ‘up for it.’

Studying the sexual violence of enslavement challenges the norms of the historical discipline. A large body of verifiable evidence, the foundation of historical study, is simply unavailable in many cases. When the archive obscures marginalised perspectives, new methodologies need to be employed. Reasonable assumptions must be made and speculation is essential. Previous histories of enslavement have relied upon the biases of the archive to advance their own agendas, erasing women and enslaved people from narratives of the Old South. It is only when the limits of the archive are recognised that marginalised voices, and particularly those speaking about marginalised issues, can be heard.

rchives, rather than repositories of facts, are a product of the social and political contexts in which they are created. As a general rule, individuals from higher social classes (particularly men) generate more material – testaments, account books, diaries – and thus are over-represented in archival collections. For my research, which focuses on sexual violence perpetrated against enslaved women in the US South, this is particularly pertinent. The voices of marginalised individuals are obscured in many ways, both incidentally and deliberately. Illiteracy, for example, means that the lives of working people have remained mostly unrecorded for much of history. The simple drudgery of their lives also acts as a barrier – journalists and storytellers are interested in the exceptional, not the everyday. The process of archiving material is also affected by the power dynamics of society – in choosing what to keep and what to discard, slaveholders have retained influence over the historicisation of the Old South.

Crucially, creating a narrative of passive victimisation must be avoided. The women I study, although victims of horrific violence, did not simply accept this treatment. Many actively and violently resisted assault; others challenged the institution of slavery, through working slowly, burning meals, or running away. Finding evidence of this resistance again requires deduction and interpretation – a slaveholder might describe an enslaved person as lazy, when in fact their poor work ethic was a deliberate act of rebellion. When an enslaved woman recounts her story of sexual abuse, this source must not simply be used to formulate a tale of violent suffering. Such sources must also be viewed as evidence of women demanding that their voices be heard, irrespective of the social, legal, and institutional disadvantages they faced.

This cultural ignorance of black women as victims of sexual violence, alongside problems of illiteracy and archival censorship, has served to silence them. We must then find ways to unearth such marginalised narratives, for example ‘reading against the grain,’ and ‘reading the silences.’ Sources must be read with silences in mind. Comments that might seem throwaway gain significance – a ‘shameful attack’ could refer to a rape; an overseer who likes to whip young enslaved women can be read as a sexual predator.


Our Voices

Coastal historiographies of the Indian Ocean:


y project focuses on mapping, documenting and exploring oral expressive culture across the Somali coast. Focusing on coastal communities and in particular the Banaadiri people, a community who were central to the transoceanic Indian Ocean maritime trade network, my project explores the way that ideas of community, tradition and history are presented in their literature. Contemporary global narratives of the Somali coast have been dominated by piracy stories, which have tended to favour stories about men, nationalism and the nation state. From global media reports to popular fiction, piracy has become the sole lens through which to view the Somali coast. This emphasis on piracy has meant that the Somali coast has become an almost exclusively male politicized space and the stories of coastal women have become suppressed. This narrative is filled with stories of Somali men hijacking ships, abducting foreign nationals and extorting ransoms. My project complicates this dominant male narrative by using the Indian Ocean rather than the nationstate as the lens through which to analyse coastal narratives and the means through which to re-inscribe female stories back into coastal narratives. Indian Ocean historians such as Edward Alpers have argued that although the Banaadiri community were integral to the cross-cultural trade networks that were being negotiated across the East African coast and the wider Indian Ocean rim, little of this has been documented. In the oral poems and prose that I have collected, women are presented as both the custodians and propagators of coastal culture. Through a vast array of oral poems, Banaadiri women narrate stories, which chronicle their rich coastal culture and Indian Ocean history. Many of these poems discuss the Banaadiri woman’s role as the spinner of the Futa Benaadir, a traditional cloth made by the Benaadiri community and traded with both the inland Somali people and the merchants who came from across the Indian Ocean. In these narratives the spinning of the Futa Benaadir cloth becomes a metaphor for the role that the

Image Credit Amin Adam Photography


Our Voices

Aesthetics in Somali literature Ayan Salaad Benaadiri woman holds as the spinner of forgotten coastal narratives; creating a fabric of stories which documents their historical trajectory. In these poems, women are not only the spinners of stories but also the means through which the community sustains itself. Each thread spun by the Banaadiri woman creates a weaving opportunity for another member of their community to weave their traditional cloth. In other poems, it is through the body of the Banaadiri woman that history is inscribed. The ‘Buraamburka Aroos’, a wedding poem, begins with Banaadiri women coming together to dress the bride for her wedding day. As the poem unfolds, it becomes clear that the poem is as much a celebration of the Benaadiri coastal heritage as it is a celebration of a wedding. Throughout the poem, different parts of the bride’s body is adorned with their cultural garments and traditional artefacts; from silk shawls, to gold, to henna and the Benaadir cloth. In many ways, the bride’s body signifies the Somali coastline and the women who are dressing her symbolise the traders who came to exchange their goods. Narrating their coastal stories in the genre of the oral poem means that Banaadiri women, not only document their Indian Ocean histories, but also create an enduring narrative of their traditions. Each performer of the oral poem reimagines it in a slightly different way to the former thereby creating a plethora of Banaadiri narratives, which are told from generation to generation. Image: Somali Women in Traditional Clothing


Guest Article

Speech and Language Therapy A Gendered Profession


hen I reveal to people that I am a speech and language therapist, they respond in a number of ways at which, undoubtedly, other speech therapists would nod in recognition. They range from people thinking I can teach others to “talk posh” to being a fairy godmother who can wave a magic wand to fix my patients’ stammers. Despite the confusion that, in reality, I don’t work alongside the Eliza Doolittle’s of the world or that I don’t emulate the therapy provided in “The King’s Speech,” I have never had anything but positive reactions to my profession. But is that because I fit the stereotype? As Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) we are defined as people who provide life-changing treatment, support, and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking, and/or swallowing. What is not included in that definition, is that this profession is dominated by white women (Greenwood et al, 2006). This gender imbalance is glaringly evident across a variety of settings featuring SLTs ranging from university courses to high profile conferences. Type “speech and language therapist” into Google and pictures of white women smiling with children and elderly people dominate the page. Men are only featured in these pictures as patients and other professionals. Traditionally, men have accounted for just 1-2% of SLTs. McKinson (2007) found in her research that many men who enter the profession have already pursued another career. Others have already been exposed to specific situations where they have gained firsthand experience and awareness of the power of speech and language therapy. Many of the participants in McKinson’s study speak of experiences where they have been mistaken for maintenance staff instead of speech therapists. It is commonly assumed that applications are from women. The principle justification for the gendered nature of this profession is argued to be due to its low profile. This needs to be addressed in order to increase gender diversity of SLTs. In 2007, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists CEO Kamini Gadhok noted “Encouraging men to join speech and language therapy needs to be addressed through looking at the whole organizational system – including public perceptions, training recruitments, work experience and career development.” Ultimately, SLT has a perceived female stereotype which requires a rebrand and completely new education approach. RCSLT and AHP Federation publications have increased the number of pictures they include of male SLTs promoting the profession. Litosellti and Leadbetter (2011) found that men are taken more seriously in meetings and receive quicker career progression. However, they do face challenges that are not


Annabel Davis

necessarily experienced by their female counterparts. For example, men are perceived as more of a risk to children within paediatric settings. There are a number of gendered discourses within the profession. There are those that reinforce the stereotype that women are more natural communicators than men. There is the belief that women are more caring than men and this concept of care is placed above the equally essential scientific and analytical skills which are often more associated with men. Henson and Krasas-Robers (2001) propose the notion that “doing gender” and breaking away from heterosexual stereotypes in the workplace is less stigmatizing for women who behave in a manner that is perceived as masculine, than it is for men who behave in more traditionally feminine ways. Men often face the threat of not being viewed as “real men” (Simpson, 2004). Ironically, SLT is one of the few professions where the gender pay gap is non-existent. Professionals are granted equal pay and benefits regardless of their gender. While historically it has been seen as a profession with poor pay and expensive training, it is fast becoming a career with excellent opportunities to work with a wide range of clients from babies to elderly people. We also work with other groups which people may find surprising. When I discuss my job, people are often unaware of our impact on transgender patients. So my message to all those boys and men out there who are considering being SLTs? That glass ceiling is just waiting for you to smash through it. And there will be many female SLTs cheering you on to join us! References: Greenwood, N., Wight, J. and Bithell, C. (2006) “Perceptions of speech and language therapy amongst UK school and college students: implications for recruitment” International Journal of Language Communication Disorders, vol.41, no.1, pp.83-94 Litosselti, L. and Leadbetter, C. (2013) “Speech and language therapy/pathology: perspectives on a gendered profession” International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, vol.48, no.1, pp.90-101 McKinson, F. (2007) “Why do men become SLTs?” RCSLT Bulletin, April 2007 Simpson, R. (2004) “Masculinity at Work: The Experiences of Men in Female Dominated Occupations” Work Employment and Society, vol.18, no.2

Our Voices

Gendered Hours: ‘Well Employed’ and ‘Wasted’ Time in Eighteenth Century Women’sof Writing The Perception Gender Studies as a Female Domain

“I have heard it lamented that Boys lose so many years in meer learning of Words. This is no Objection to a Girl, whose time is not so precious... and has therefore more hours to spare” Lady Mary Wortley Montagu


an female time be less ‘precious’ than male time? 1 How can it, hen whenbeing fromasked the dissemination themyHuygens to think about of how gender clock across Europe throughout the long eighteenth affects my research my first thought was about century,how timeit has been affects the measured topics I amaccording perceived toto the be objective rotationattracted of cogs, springs wheels? timepieces to as aand woman. A While common trope havewhen often we been branded male and or female consumers, think about for gender research is to thinktheir of innergender mechanisms are engineered to tick to the empirical beat studies as being entirely undertaken by women. of the twenty-four-hour and view women by thestudies same This is perhaps dueday. to aMen narrow thatlive gender rhythm of scientifically calculated hours, minutes and seconds; is entirely comprised of research about female subjects as whatopposed room could be left forasubjectivity to including variety of and otherjudgement? possibilities such

as masculinity, and a whole spectrum of other gender According to This scholars E.P. Thompson and however, H. Voth, identities. view such is notasdifficult to understand, the Huygens clock enabled the fast-paced, synchronised work as many people’s knowledge of gender studies is derived forcefrom needed to spark the embers of the Industrial Revolution. the women’s studies movement that was popular In the light university of this research, the ineighteenth century has been across campuses the 1960s. This movement popularly characterised as a period in which clock-time became was associated with second wave feminism and aimed to a ‘currency’ upon which leading industrialists capitalised, increase opportunities to study women and female issues2 transforming labour andlacking landscape their wake. which, atthe thatnature time, of were sorely frominthe university Although Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift have since convincingly curriculum. Today, many universities have gender studies argued that objective timekeeping was studies not an ‘alien intruder’ departments that combine gender with women’s to this era, and scholarly interestaccordingly towards time and the eighteenth studies are named in order to reflect this century has predominantly foldedtheoutwards fromthat timepieces, diversity. It is easy to make assumption the only measuring theirwho impact uponsuch theresearch period’sare economy, politics, academics conduct women. Indeed, 3 literature and culture. it is true that most of the students who take these courses and the majority of those who lead them are women. In There is more to to time, a clockconnection thishowever, norm isthan notmeasurements only the ideaonthat most face,gender as thestudies eighteenth-century aristocrat Lady Mary Wortley research is conducted by women but also Montagu was acutely aware. perceived that many of her that the inverse is true: thatShe this is all that female researchers contemporaries thought that female wasexpected less ‘precious’ do! A female researcher is verytime much to be thaninterested male, explaining to her daughter in 1753 that ‘Boys’ are in female subjects. perceived to ‘lose’ time, while ‘Girls’ are judged to have time ‘to 4 spare’. her writingbeillustrates, therefore be ‘lost’ as ThisTime, can as sometimes awkwardcan when it is discovered well that as passed, but only once its owner has been recognised you are not involved in studying a specifically ‘female’ to have value,Inpurpose, andexperience, potential; ‘precious’ attributes, Lady subject. my own I have often received Marysurprised argued, that were associated with I ‘Boys’ often than looks when saying that study more Moses, a male ‘Girls’. character. When I say a ‘female subject’ this is of course a hugely problematic term. Nevertheless, it is often true that Why,you then, the eighteenth-century ‘bluestocking’ Catherine aredid expected to study something related to the theme Talbot ask herself whether ‘my time been improved or lost, or of gender, the history of5 women, or perhaps one particular worse than lost, Whatwomen had she read, with has whom woman. This misspent?’ perception that study women in had my sheown communicated, and howme hadaway she from felt inthe order to sense experience pushed study of the that feminine, her female time wasI also enoughrecently to be while ‘lost’, something have precious thought about and writing not simply passed? Crucially, in this dynamic period of a piece about Miriam, Moses’ sister. The concept enlightenment debate, the responsibility that each person was that your gender limits you to studying a specific subject

Sarah Osmond Smith

perceived to possess in cultivating their intellectual, moral, and spiritual self was being placed under rigorous scrutiny. Bishop Joseph Butler, for example, stressed that although humanity exists as a fallen, ‘inferior’ version of God’s first creation, ‘we find ourselves in particular indued with Capacities, not only Tinson of perceiving Ideas… but also of storing Kate up our Ideas and 6 Knowledge by Memory.’ Significantly, he argued, ‘we may be feel very discouraged from pursuing study into traditionally assured, that we should never have had these Capacities of female subjects, as I suspect many male researchers do. improving… had they not been necessary, and intended to be made usefor of.’a7 researcher, this dichotomy consists of either Although,

accepting the risk of being put into a box or not pursuing Although these which discussions were find primarily conducted for the a line of study they would the most interesting, men, they also had profound implications itbenefit is alsoofimportant for researchers to consider that if theyupon female Theresearch essayist then Catharine Trotter do not audiences. conduct this perhaps no Cockburn, one will. for instance, was inspired by John Locke’s An Essay Human To pick just one statistic to illustrate this point, just on 15.5% Understanding, he wrote it wasabout ‘unpardonable’ of biographies inonwhich Wikipedia arethat written women. for a person to ‘neglect’ to ‘improve’ themselves over the course Considering that8 women make up around 50% of the of their lifetime. His writing on ‘Duration’ also underscored population, it is indicative of a larger issue that this online the disparity between and time as felt encyclopaedia, which uniform is many clock-time, peoples’ go-to source of by individuals; itrepresents is ultimately our ‘train of ideas’, and information, women so poorly. With thisour in ‘reflection mind them’, he wrote, which informs understanding of time itupon seems of upmost necessity that we our all undertake the task 9 and its passing. As well as writing a defence to Locke’s Essay, of researching the lesser studied whether we risk being Cockburn articulated the tensions between her desires to morally, categorised as one thing or another. spiritually, and intellectually grow, and the temporal restrictions to which women were subjected. In 1702, she wrote that ‘there are so great difficulties, and such general discouragement to those of the [female] sex who could improve their minds, and employ their time in a science or useful art, that there cannot be a more distinguishing mark of a free and beneficent spirit... to those who have attempted to gain it.’10 Here, the universal significance of time lies not in our ability to measure it on a clock-face, but in our responsibility to ‘improve’ it by improving ourselves. My research concerns the nature and experience of the ‘spare’ female ‘hours’ that Lady Mary described to her daughter. I will investigate the barriers that women, particularly female members of the intellectual and well-read ‘bluestocking’ circle, perceived to be placed upon their time, restricting their ability to ‘use’ their ‘capacities’ as Butler recommended. I will explore the work and domestic duties that these women undertook to occupy these gendered hours, and the vibrant emotional reactions that arose when they felt that their time would be better be spent upon other, inaccessible employments. I aim to unravel the roots and implications of Talbot’s crucial question: ‘Has my time been improved or lost, or worse than lost, misspent?’

1 Wortley Montagu, Ladyyou Mary, ‘To Lady 28 Jan.The [1753]’, Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Vol.3: 1752-1762, ed. can act to push away fromBute, it entirely. first The issue Robert Oxford University Press, 1967),inpp.20-24 (p.21) thatHalsband arises (Oxford: from this is that you are placed a position 2 Thompson, E.P., ‘Time,else Work-Discipline, Industrialwhat Capitalism,’ Past and Present, No. 38. (Dec., 1967), 56-97 (p.61). where someone is indirectlyand choosing you do 3 Glennie, Paul & Thrift, Nigel, Shaping the Day: A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales 1300-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press and don’t study. In both the perception that women study 2009), p.16. female issuesp.21. and in the drive to push back from this, 4 Wortley Montagu, people other ‘Saturday: than the The researcher are dictating what to she 5 Talbot, Catherine, Importance of Time in Relation Eternity’, The Works of the late Catherine Talbot, ed. Montagu Pennington, studies. The 1819), reversepp.42-48 could also be true in that a man could 9th edn. (London, (p.45). 6 Butler, Joseph, The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, 3rd edn. (London, 1740), p.xiv, p.111 & p.119. 7 Ibid, p.126 8 Locke, John, ‘Book I.- Chapter I. Introduction,’ An Essay concerning Human Understanding (London: 1836), pp.1-8 (p.3). 9 Ibid, ‘Book II.- Duration, and its Simple Modes’, pp.109-121 (p.110). 10 Cockburn, Catharine Trotter, as quoted by Patricia Sheridan, Catharine Trotter Cockburn Philosophical Writings, ed. Patricia Sheridan (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2006), p.8.


Our Voices


“Show me what democracy looks like!”:

t was a simple slogan on a t-shirt, but it prompted passionate cheers of support from scores of marchers packed tightly into the metro carriage. They celebrated the young boy’s statement of inclusivity and protest, setting the tone for the day to come. “This is what a feminist looks like”, it read. As we stepped into the city, fierce winds kept the 50 state flags around Union Station flying, intermittently interrupting our view of the U.S. Capitol ahead. Boisterous, opportunistic street vendors who, just 24 hours earlier, had given consumers the chance to ‘Make America Great Again’, today held aloft merchandise proclaiming ‘I was there’. Twenty-four hours earlier a group of us had walked the same streets, on the day that the 45th democratically elected president of the United States was sworn in. Wanting to witness - but not celebrate - this moment in history, we paced the precinct of the National Mall, avoiding the fenced-off jubilance of the inauguration zone itself. The atmosphere was antagonistic; defiant, redcapped revellers waited behind fences, queuing


for security checks, and flanked by anti-Trump protestors armed with placards. Snipers spied from rooftops above, sirens, and the chop of lowflying helicopters added to the volatile atmosphere. Oh what a difference a day makes “Show me what democracy looks like?”, cried thousands of marchers clad in pink hats - the heart of the march’s iconography, which has since graced the cover of Time magazine as the strongest symbol of craftivism in recent history. “This is what democracy looks like!” responded fellow ‘pussyhats’. Protestors old and young flooded the National Mall, many climbing lampposts, trees, and Smithsonian museums to take in the scale of the crowds below and lead catchy, collective chants. From the youngest activists to veteran protestors (whose placards read “I can’t believe I still have to protest this s***”), we were bound together in crowds so dense there was no space for movement, enhancing the sense of collective power. Although organisers had been keen to point out this was a

Our Voices

The Women’s March on Washington pro-women, not anti-Trump, protest, the recurring refrains “We will not go away, welcome to your first day!” and “This pussy bites back!” suggested otherwise. Bawdy signs reclaiming the female anatomy and satirising the president created a carnivalesque atmosphere - the pyramid of power inverted for a day. But it was angry, too; a constructive, progressive anger that sustained people through the Odyssean, four-hour rally, and prompted them to continue even when Washington Post reports began to circulate that overcrowding meant the long-awaited march had been called off. We marched nonetheless, following an alternative route down the Mall and up to the White House. As we passed the Trump Hotel, where heavyweight guards – conspicuously absent elsewhere that day - stood firm on the steps, marchers laid their signs to rest against the fences, leaving a graveyard of protest at the foot of their adversary’s monument to power.

Amy King

on Facebook the day after the election, brought together groups with little more in common than the conviction than a Trump presidency would harm women’s rights. Little wonder then that on the day, there were significant oversights; a total shortage of audio-visual equipment, for example, meant the overly lengthy rally was inaudible to all but a lucky few. Solidarity marches around the world had hinted at a long-held dream of global feminism. But despite the great sense of unity, and the laudable lack of arrests at any of the marches across America’s 50 states, this grassroots movement is not without controversy. Organisers invited participation from “all defenders of human rights”, though protestors were overwhelmingly white, able-bodied, cis women - surely not a true reflection of what feminism looked like on the largest day of protests in US history.

This was a patchwork protest; organisation of the event, born from one woman’s call to protest posted


Our Voices


Images Credit Amy King

Our Voices

Breaking the Taboo:


Menstruation in Francophone Women’s Writing

ver the past couple of years, menstruation is a topic that has been appearing more and more in the press, on the Internet, and in television programmes. This global phenomenon has been partly driven by women’s desires to challenge negative societal attitudes towards menstruation as well as breaking the taboos that surround it. For example, the campaign ‘Happy to Bleed’ was launched by women in India as a protest against a temple chief who forbade menstruating women from taking part in religious activities. Soon, ‘Happy to Bleed’ became #HappytoBleed on Twitter, a banner under which women shared their experiences of menstruation. Artists, such as French photographer Marianne Rosentiehl, have joined in this surge of taboo-busting action by photographing or painting with menstrual blood. Popular TV programmes have also jumped on the bandwagon. Hit show Orange is the New Black, for example, aired an episode in which Lichfield prison experiences a tampon shortage. You may think that all this taboo breaking, shame busting, and celebration of menstruation is a very 21st century phenomenon. This is most certainly not the case! Here comes in my PhD thesis... In my first chapter (the other two focus on childbirth and the menopause respectively) I examine the representation of menstrual experience in francophone women’s writing from Algeria, France, and Mauritius. My aim is to determine the extent to which representations of female bodily experience have evolved since the 1970s. During this decade second-wave feminists such as Annie Leclerc, Luce Irigaray, and Hélène Cixous challenged the negative patriarchal discourse that influences women’s perceptions of their bodies. Many of these writers urged women to stop feeling ashamed and, instead, to celebrate their bodies. In her 1974 feminist manifesto Parole de femme (Woman’s Word) Leclerc criticizes women for not considering their menstrual blood outside masculine parameters that define it is as shameful, abject, and a nuisance. She describes menstruating as a happy occurrence and calls for women to coin a positive language with which to articulate it. Since the 1970s, many female authors from within metropolitan France and beyond have undertaken the task of exposing and denouncing societal taboos and negative attitudes towards menstruation. They do so by creating fictional characters who recount their menstrual experience and the attitudes towards menstruation that they witness in the society in which they live. ‘Des poils sur moi’ (Hairs on me), a short story published by metropolitan French author Virginie Despentes in 1999, parodies the stereotype that

Maria Tomlinson

menstruating women experience mood swings by creating a female character who turns into a bloodthirsty werewolf when she menstruates! A common scenario in Algerian literature is the girl’s first period, which is often depicted as causing her to feel ashamed and traumatised because she has received no prior education about menstruation. In La Jeune fille et la mère (The Young Girl and the Mother), a novel published in 2005 by Leïla Marouane, the protagonist is so terrified by the appearance of blood in her underwear that she believes that it is a punishment from a djinn (a spirit or demon from Islamic mythology). Alongside revealing the taboo nature of menstruation in Algeria, novels such as Nina Bouraoui’s La Voyeuse interdite (Forbidden Vision) explore the Islamic belief that menstrual blood is impure. In this text published in 1991, Bouraoui tells the story of Fikria whose Islamic fundamentalist father perverts Islamic doctrine about menstrual blood by conceiving his daughter’s entire body as impure. From her very first menstrual bleed, he sequesters her, beats her, insults her using animalistic terms, and forbids her from speaking.

We can find the same discourse of impurity in francophone literature that portrays the Indo-Mauritian Hindu community. Menstruation is of particular fascination to Mauritian author Ananda Devi who has written no fewer than five novels on the subject. In 2001 she published a novel entitled Pagli, which translates from Mauritian creole as ‘mad’. It is a label given to the protagonist, Daya, whose impure menstrual blood becomes a symbol of resistance against her husband’s family. His family are described as strict enforcers of purity and order Daya to have children. Another of Devi’s novels, L’Arbre fouet (The Whipped Tree, published in 1997), narrates a ritual to mark Aeena’s first period. Her abusive father interrupts the female only ceremony in order to humiliate Aeena by loudly announcing her impurity and forcing her to show her menstrual blood to the stunned crowd. We can see here, as in Forbidden Vision, the patriarchal manipulation of religious ideas to oppress women. These are only a few examples of the fantastic femaleauthored literary works out there that, by representing menstruation, are breaking taboos, challenging negative attitudes, and celebrating femininity. I leave you with a quote I have translated from Parole de femme: ‘To live is to be happy. Naturally, it follows that you can be happy when you watch and feel the warm and soft blood trickle from inside you once a month.’1

1 Leclerc, Annie (1974) Parole de femme, Paris: Grasset, p.48


Our Voices

Three Ways My Gender Makes Me A Better Researcher


hile the world of modern academia remains dominated by the Western white male, I find myself pleasantly surprised at the open arms in which this elite society has welcomed me as a comparatively young and naive woman. Prior to commencing my MPhil in contemporary French women’s writing, I had read article upon article detailing the gendered discrimination with which female academics are confronted, such as being offered temporary university posts just in case, God forbid, they decide to take a few months out of a life-long career to create a human life. As a postgraduate researcher who is yet to face the hindrance of childbirth, I relish the opportunities for academic, professional, and personal development that regularly present themselves to me (for the time being, that is). I put my success in research, so far, down to three specific benefits for which I thank my gender. “I’M A FEMINIST. I’VE BEEN FEMALE FOR A LONG TIME NOW. IT’D BE STUPID NOT TO BE ON MY OWN SIDE” – MAYA ANGELOU Despite the regressive reality that 53% of white American women voted for You-Know-Who to become the ‘Leader of the Free World’, being a woman and being a feminist are, or at least should be, synonymous. While the majority of my male friends and family claim to support equal rights for women, they will never know the humiliation of having their bra clasp undone in Year 9. They will never face disciplinary action for wearing clothing tight enough to arouse members of the opposite sex. In addition, a stranger will never shout across the street any of the gender-specific insults that are commonplace in President Trump’s societal locker room. But as someone who has experienced all of the above, I react emotionally to the patriarchal criticism that runs through the veins of most contemporary women’s writing in French. To me, Annie Ernaux’s illegal abortion depicted in La Honte (Shame) represents a fight for her right to choose, while in Marie Darrieussecq’s novel Truismes (official English translation is titled Pig Tales) the transformations of both the female protagonist into a pig and her boyfriend into a werewolf reflect societal gender norms. Being born a feminist makes finding, analysing, and presenting gendered injustice second nature.


Ruby Kite

“WE REALISE THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR VOICE WHEN WE ARE SILENCED” – MALALA YOUSAFZAI Further to the above, I have experienced the ways in which being a woman enables me to better connect to the gendered experiences portrayed in contemporary women’s writing, than, for example, the wartime texts with which my undergraduate degree was saturated. I am confident that regularly making connections between literature and reality has a positive impact on my research as I am able to incorporate one into the other and vice versa. Many a Sunday morning, I converse with my friends over coffee and cake about the sexist injustice which we see, hear, and live. Whether the conversation turns to another friend’s abusive boyfriend, the latest celebrity bikini body shaming, or the previous evening’s primetime all-male comedy panel show, it is often followed by ‘Have you read…?’ or ‘You should watch…’. This frequent engagement between feminist theory and practice, which interestingly repels Caffe Nero’s straight white male customers, keeps me up-to-date with the world of nipple freeing and pussy rioting in which my dissertation texts were born. “SUPPORT WOMEN ON THEIR WAY TO THE TOP. TRUST THAT THEY WILL EXTEND A HAND TO THOSE WHO FOLLOW” – MARIELA DABBAH Finally, but importantly, is the immense support and sheer delight with which I’ve been met by the female-dominant field of my area of specialism. While childless, careerdriven, under-the-bus-throwing women are shamed across our male-edited front pages, I owe the majority of the opportunities afforded to me in the academic sphere to the established women who I have joined there. From reading, editing, re-reading, and re-editing my PhD research proposal, to inviting me to present a conference paper, and even writing this very article, I know that the compassionate and progressive environment in which they have welcomed me is uncommon in today’s competitive, financially-driven workplace. While I am by no means under the impression that it is plain sailing from here, I credit being a woman to the smooth start with which my short time as a researcher has begun.

Our Voices

Top Gender and Sexuality Twitter Accounts


Maria Tomlinson

ven though Twitter can sometimes be a bit of a distraction, when used properly, it provides a great networking opportunity for academics. I, myself, have been contacted by academics at other universities who have taken an interest in my tweets. Twitter is also an excellent way to keep up to date with events and research which engage with issues of gender and sexuality. Before embarking on your twitter journey, I would advise that you state on your profile that all opinions are your own and don’t post anything of a personal nature. To liven up this disclaimer, I have stated on my profile: ‘All views are my own. That’s how wonderfully original I am.’ After all, academia is all about originality… To get you started, or to enrich your exciting travels through the ‘Twitterverse’, I am presenting to you my top three picks for twitter accounts that tweet about gender and/or sexuality.

@Girlhoodstudies This is the twitter account for an interdisciplinary journal on the subject of girlhood. It is a very active account which frequently shares fascinating articles (both from the media and academia) about gender and sexuality. They recently shared a fantastic article about the taboo nature of menstruation in Kenya. Girls there feel unable to discuss their worries about their periods. Many struggle to afford sanitary products and therefore are unable to go to school when they are on their period. They also post thought-provoking quotes about feminism. My favourite recent quote is from Jane Fonda: “Feminism is not just about women; it’s about letting all people lead fuller lives.”

@AssumingGender Assuming Gender is an interdisciplinary online academic journal based at Cardiff University. They encourage debate on the subject of gender on their twitter feed, in their journal, and in their seminar series. Their very active twitter account is a great hub for news and academic research. They also seem quite keen to retweet any tweets on the subject of gender – perhaps you’ll be able to get their attention! I recently enjoyed seeing all of the photos they tweeted from the women’s marches against Donald Trump. They even posted a photo of women in Antarctica who were taking part in this worldwide protest against the new president.

@GenderDiverse This is the twitter handle of Gender Agenda who are an organisation who promote diversity and strive to debunk gender stereotypes. Their members present at conferences and offer training. They tweet a wide variety of articles on LGBTIQ issues and promote, as well as report on, relevant events. They have recently been posting articles about how to avoid discrimination against transgender students. The hashtag #GenderDiverse seems to be gaining some momentum – why not join in the conversation?


Our Voices

The Difficulties and Unexepected Advantages of Being a Woman Filmmaker

Elena Dirstaru


n Western rural Nepal menstruating women are banished to cowsheds every month. Many die from the harsh weather conditions, and some are raped and killed by strangers who know they are alone and vulnerable. This tradition is called chhaupadi, and it affects thousands of women. In 2014 I made a documentary film about Nepalese women’s rights activist Radha Paudel who is leading the fight against chhaupadi. Radha is a volunteer who spends all her time trying to empower women. She travels from village to village to talk to people about menstrual taboos and explain why women should be allowed in the house when they are on their periods. She has a very strong social media presence, using crowdfunding to help raise awareness for chhaupadi internationally and within Nepal. She often credits her relentlessness and courage to her womanhood; growing up in a society that did not allow women to do much, she became a nurse, helped people in the Nepalese Civil War, and later became a well-known activist for women’s rights. Being a woman has made it more difficult for her to persuade others to change their attitudes - or even to listen at all! For this reason, she often takes male activists with her to villages to help get her message across. Yet, Radha never lets the fact that she is a woman get in the way. She often goes to village leaders’ houses to talk to them and at the end of the meeting claims that she is on her period to show them that nothing bad happens if they allow menstruating women inside the house. As a woman documentary filmmaker, I encountered similar barriers. I never managed to get any men to talk to me about chhaupadi or their experiences with Radha, so all the interviews in the film are with women, which adds another dimension to the film - not something I was aiming for when I started my research, but something that happened


Images Credit Elena Dirstaru

because of gender-imposed limitations while working in the field. There were, however, some unexpected benefits. As I found myself completely ignored by many of the men I encountered, I ended up getting more freedom to film them and greater access with my camera. Whenever the male members of my team were filming, the men seemed to notice them a bit more and therefore were more careful with what they were saying or doing. In terms of my relationships with women in my film, my being a woman has certainly shaped my work. They were all very motherly towards me, happy to help me with my film and my research, and very interested in talking to me. Although menstrual taboos are very much widespread across the world, when I first started to research this topic there was very little written about it. My film, But They Can’t Break Stones, was shown at festivals, and I have often done Q&As after each screening. I was amazed by how many people avoided the actual topic of the film, and instead asked veiled questions about human rights abuses. More than once, I noticed people being shocked whenever I said the word period or menstruation. Menstrual taboos are happening all around us, but are not acknowledged for what they are. Almost 3 years later, things have started to change. Chhaupadi has sparked the interest of the international press and there are quite a few short films and articles written about it. Yet, it is still a topic that makes people uncomfortable. It is very interesting to note that so far, it has only been women covering the issue, both in the news and film, struggling to get the much needed international attention to make change easier to achieve. The research and activism driving the change has been entirely female-led, thus a very eloquent example of how gender and sex can influence research on an international level.

Our Voices

Activism and the gendered politics of translation:

Iraqi women writers & feminist translation approaches Ruth Abou Rached


y PhD project focuses on Iraqi women writers’ novels in Arabic-English translation alongside various feminist translation approaches. Previous to my PhD, I had worked as a health advocacy worker for many years, often translating between Arabic, French, and English to help people have fair access to health services. I became aware of feminist translation theory when I enrolled in the MA Translation and Interpreting programme at the University of Salford in 2010. Seven years later, I am now an AHRC-funded third year PhD candidate in the Centre of Translation and Intercultural Studies, University of Manchester, which is part of the NWCDTP consortium. My project has two main aims: the first, to highlight aspects of Iraqi women writers’ literature previously not explored in current English language scholarship; the second is showing how Iraqi women’s literature in Arabic and English translation offers new insights into feminist translation. So why do I believe that the study of Iraqi women writers’ literature is so important? And what does feminist translation actually mean? To start with the first question: the study of Iraqi women’s literature. Since the 1990s, Iraqi academic activists have expressed fears that “collective violence (in Iraq)…presents the temptation to homogenize a collectivity” (Al-Ali & AlNajjar 2013, xxx)1 post 1991 and 2003 wars in Iraq. Iraq’s charged contexts of war (which historically involve the US and UK) and media images of “Middle Eastern women” as victims (Jabbra 2006)2 raise questions on whose politics mediate Iraqi women writers’ novels when published in English translation. Twelve Iraqi women writers, to my knowledge have had fiction translated from Arabic into English either novels, plays or short stories. Their writing in Arabic brings to life the many peoples, places, cultures and histories of Iraq, past and present. With richness and vividness of expression, Iraqi women writers re-create how different Iraqi women and men “speak”, using different gendered writing techniques. But how do the nuances of their gendered writing “read” in English? To what extent do translation decisions shift the gender politics of Iraqi women’s novels in English translation, how and why? This was my starting point of the project. The second starting point was feminist translation. Feminist translation scholarship engages with gender and translation in many different ways: shifts of feminist thought in and via

translation; the historical roles of women as translators; why translation has been framed as less creative or “original” than the activity of “writing”; why a translated work – and the translator’s labour – is expected to read “invisibly”, with most credit assigned to “the writer” (and publisher); how gender markers in language transmit gendered roles via translation; why some gender and language identities are more visible in translation than others. Feminist translation, in effect, looks at writing and translation as intimately connected to wide-ranging gendered and geo-political power relations. The dynamics underpinning the translation of particular languages, literatures, writers or social/cultural groups are thus always open to question. Feminist translation analysis, then, does not focus exclusively on women and feminism but also on identity, geo-political location and gender as ongoing spheres of concern. So why feminist translation alongside Iraqi women writers’ literature? : after all, no Iraqi women writers in my project identify themselves or their novels as feminist. First of all, feminist translation is a creative engagement with the gendered power relations in any given translation situation to foster new ways of critically thinking about translation and writing. So, increasing critical awareness of important texts by women and other identity groups to new audiences is one mode of activist feminist translator praxis, or approach. In this vein, my project foregrounds Iraqi women writers’ literature as an important literary canon in terms of creativity, themes and writing techniques, both in Arabic and English publication. Secondly, as an engagement with concerns about receptions of Iraqi creativity, I analyse the gendered politics of Iraqi women writers’ novels in (and as) English translations. So in my analyses of the novels, I explore, among other questions: how the gendered politics of the Arabic novels “travel” into English; how the novels creatively engage with media discourses on Iraq and women; how perception of the “Iraqi woman writer” shapes the novels’ meanings and receptions; representations of translation and writing used by Iraqi women writers for political effect. So questions of gender intertwine every aspect of my thesis; at the same time Iraqi women writers’ literature constantly questions and diversifies my interpretations of feminist translation and gendered literary activism. I look forward to sharing my findings, post-thesis completion.

1 Al-Ali, Nadje Sadig and Deborah Al-Najjar. 2013. Introduction: Writing Trauma, Memory and Materiality. In We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War, eds. N. S. Al-Ali and D. Al-Najjar, xxv-xl. New York: Syracuse University Press 2 Jabbra, Nancy W. 2006. Women, Words and War: Explaining 9/11 and Justifying U.S. Military Action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 8(1), 236-255.


Our Voices

Gendered Hours:

‘Well Employed’ and ‘Wasted’ Time in Eighteenth Century Women’s Writing Sarah Osmond Smith

“I have heard it lamented that Boys lose so many years in meer learning of Words. This is no Objection to a Girl, whose time is not so precious... and has therefore more hours to spare” Lady Mary Wortley Montagu


an female time be less ‘precious’ than male time? 1 How can it, when from the dissemination of the Huygens clock across Europe throughout the long eighteenth century, time has been measured according to the objective rotation of cogs, springs, and wheels? While timepieces have often been branded for male or female consumers, their inner mechanisms are engineered to tick to the empirical beat of the twenty-four-hour day. Men and women live by the same rhythm of scientifically calculated hours, minutes, and seconds; what room could be left for subjectivity and judgement? According to scholars such as E.P. Thompson and H. Voth, the Huygens clock enabled the fast-paced, synchronised work force needed to spark the embers of the Industrial Revolution. In the light of this research, the eighteenth century has been popularly characterised as a period in which clock-time became a ‘currency’ upon which leading industrialists capitalised, transforming the nature of labour and landscape in their wake.2 Although Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift have since convincingly argued that objective timekeeping was not an ‘alien intruder’ to this era, scholarly interest towards time and the eighteenth century has predominantly folded outwards from timepieces, measuring their impact upon the period’s economy, politics, literature and culture.3 There is more to time, however, than measurements on a clockface, as the eighteenth-century aristocrat Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was acutely aware. She perceived that many of her contemporaries thought that female time was less ‘precious’ than male, explaining to her daughter in 1753 that ‘Boys’ are perceived to ‘lose’ time, while ‘Girls’ are judged to have time ‘to spare’.4 Time, as her writing illustrates, can therefore be ‘lost’ as well as passed, but only once its owner has been recognised to have value, purpose, and potential; ‘precious’ attributes, Lady Mary argued, that were associated with ‘Boys’ more often than ‘Girls’. Why, then, did the eighteenth-century ‘bluestocking’ Catherine Talbot ask herself whether ‘my time been improved or lost, or worse than lost, misspent?’5 What had she read, with whom had she communicated, and how had she felt in order to sense that her female time was also precious enough to be ‘lost’, and not simply passed? Crucially, in this dynamic period of enlightenment


debate, the responsibility that each person was perceived to possess in cultivating their intellectual, moral, and spiritual self was being placed under rigorous scrutiny. Bishop Joseph Butler, for example, stressed that although humanity exists as a fallen, ‘inferior’ version of God’s first creation, ‘we find ourselves in particular indued with Capacities, not only of perceiving Ideas… but also of storing up our Ideas and Knowledge by Memory.’6 Significantly, he argued, ‘we may be assured, that we should never have had these Capacities of improving… had they not been necessary, and intended to be made use of.’7 Although these discussions were primarily conducted for the benefit of men, they also had profound implications upon female audiences. The essayist Catharine Trotter Cockburn, for instance, was inspired by John Locke’s An Essay on Human Understanding, in which he wrote that it was ‘unpardonable’ for a person to ‘neglect’ to ‘improve’ themselves over the course of their lifetime.8 His writing on ‘Duration’ also underscored the disparity between uniform clock-time, and time as felt by individuals; it is ultimately our ‘train of ideas’, and our ‘reflection upon them’, he wrote, which informs our understanding of time and its passing.9 As well as writing a defence to Locke’s Essay, Cockburn articulated the tensions between her desires to morally, spiritually, and intellectually grow, and the temporal restrictions to which women were subjected. In 1702, she wrote that ‘there are so great difficulties, and such general discouragement to those of the [female] sex who could improve their minds, and employ their time in a science or useful art, that there cannot be a more distinguishing mark of a free and beneficent spirit... to those who have attempted to gain it.’10 Here, the universal significance of time lies not in our ability to measure it on a clock-face, but in our responsibility to ‘improve’ it by improving ourselves. My research concerns the nature and experience of the ‘spare’ female ‘hours’ that Lady Mary described to her daughter. I will investigate the barriers that women, particularly female members of the intellectual and well-read ‘bluestocking’ circle, perceived to be placed upon their time, restricting their ability to ‘use’ their ‘capacities’ as Butler recommended. I will explore the work and domestic duties that these women undertook to occupy these gendered hours, and the vibrant emotional reactions that arose when they felt that their time would be better be spent upon other, inaccessible employments. I aim to unravel the roots and implications of Talbot’s crucial question: ‘Has my time been improved or lost, or worse than lost, misspent?’

1 Wortley Montagu, Lady Mary, ‘To Lady Bute, 28 Jan. [1753]’, The Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Vol.3: 1752-1762, ed. Robert Halsband (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp.20-24 (p.21) 2 Thompson, E.P., ‘Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,’ Past and Present, No. 38. (Dec., 1967), 56-97 (p.61). 3 Glennie, Paul & Thrift, Nigel, Shaping the Day: A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales 1300-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009), p.16. 4 Wortley Montagu, p.21. 5 Talbot, Catherine, ‘Saturday: The Importance of Time in Relation to Eternity’, The Works of the late Catherine Talbot, ed. Montagu Pennington, 9th edn. (London, 1819), pp.42-48 (p.45). 6 Butler, Joseph, The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, 3rd edn. (London, 1740), p.xiv, p.111 & p.119. 7 Ibid, p.126 8 Locke, John, ‘Book I.- Chapter I. Introduction,’ An Essay concerning Human Understanding (London: 1836), pp.1-8 (p.3). 9 Ibid, ‘Book II.- Duration, and its Simple Modes’, pp.109-121 (p.110). 10 Cockburn, Catharine Trotter, as quoted by Patricia Sheridan, Catharine Trotter Cockburn Philosophical Writings, ed. Patricia Sheridan (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2006), p.8.

Our Voices

Privileged Defences:

Another Lesson from the 1930s


hen one investigates gender and sexuality, one is always aware of the personal dimension of one’s work. I believe that one of the biggest flaws in the history of literary criticism was the attempt to dissociate the author and their cultural background from the text they produce. A professor from my current university once declared that women can’t afford the death of the author. Neither can any minority. It is an important caveat when we try to comprehend the lives and writings of others. Contrary to what most proponents of “scientific objectivity” would argue, empathy is the foundation of all good research. Ultimately, we take up feminist or postcolonial or queer studies because we care: we identify with some of the subjects we study; we want to correct historical or scientific misconceptions; we want to make a small contribution to eliminating social injustice. This is why I will begin this article with a bit of personal context. 2013 was a difficult year. I was doing parallel work as a language teacher and literary translator, trying to scrape up enough money to get by. Most of the people I knew were in a similar situation. Financial difficulty and existential insecurity had already become a standard ingredient of the “millennial experience”. Unemployment was soaring, nationalism and radical right-wing groups were gaining in power. This was the social setting in which the anti-LGBT organisation “In the Name of the Family” decided to call for a constitutional re-definition of marriage. Although lagging behind many European countries, the legal rights of Croatian LGBT citizens had improved in the previous decade. There was talk of introducing civil partnership. To prevent the initiative from leading to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, members of “In the Name of the Family” proposed a constitutional amendment, which would define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. All over my hometown, stalls appeared collecting signatures; there were disputes in the media; people were intrigued. I had to listen to my students, some of whom I had grown attached to, voice homophobic opinions. I felt anxious, angry and sad. It was around this time that my partner and I decided to emigrate. A large part of my thesis deals with representations of social violence in psychoanalysis and women’s writing in the modernist period. It focuses on the life and work of three psychoanalysts (Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, and Sabina Spielrein) and three modernist authors (H.D., Bryher, and Djuna Barnes), all of whom came from different national, cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds. Incidentally, all female writers/scientists had to leave home in order to find a voice, but it was not only gender restrictions with which they were forced to cope. Family violence, rape, antisemitism, financial deprivation, and war are merely some of the traumatic experiences that come up in their biographies. In my work I attempt to show how the interests, scientific theories, political attitudes, and the artistic output of these authors developed in response to such experiences, and how it resonated with the wider social currents in which they participated.

Ana Tomcic

In the present political situation it can sometimes feel uncanny to be a modernist scholar. Everyone will have noticed the allusions to the 1930s that keep emerging in the media. Though some of these can be dismissed as simplistic, other parallels prove to be quite striking. In this connection, I’d like to refer the reader to a book I came across in Bryher’s correspondence with her analyst Hanns Sachs. On April 21st 1937, Sachs wrote to Bryher to recommend the new study by the American psychoanalyst John Dollard. It was called Caste and Class in a Southern Town and examined the sociological and psychological origins of interracial aggression in the American South. When outlining the frustrations of the black community, Dollard observes that one of the main sources of negative affect is the disparity between their constitutional rights – which promise liberty, equality, and opportunity for social advancement – and the actual situation, in which the caste system and socioeconomic oppression make this impossible. It will not be difficult to link this political conundrum with the daily experience of many American (and European) citizens today. Perhaps more so when one considers Dollard’s explanation of the psychological defence mechanisms endorsed by the white population. A common phenomenon, he claims, is the irrational fear of violent outbursts and constant emphasis of the need for higher safety measures. This eventually leads to a situation in which the open deprivation of human rights is masked as defence. Yet, if one poses the uncomfortable question, “Defence of/against what?” there are bound to be several answers. From the perspective of the dominant community, the goal is generally formulated as opposing aggression from the oppressed group or as standing up for traditional values. In the small American town of the 1930’s Dollard proclaims organised rebellion as unlikely. As for tradition, explains the American scientist, its allure usually amounts to the wish to preserve the status quo i.e. the exclusive right to social privilege. Exclusivity plays a decisive part in every struggle for human rights. When one claims to be defending the rights of the heterosexual family, what one means is the exclusive access of the heterosexual couple to social institutions such as marriage, the right to adoption, or inheritance. And when one, in a somewhat paranoid gesture, decides to build walls around one’s possessions, this is mainly because one wishes to keep one’s exclusive socioeconomic advantage to oneself. There is a final point I want to make with respect to Dollard’s study. In a chapter describing the few modes of resistance available to black individuals in the South, the author particularly stresses one: freedom of movement. If the black man/woman cannot retaliate directly when faced with oppression, at least they do “own their bodies” and can try their luck elsewhere once the living conditions become insupportable. Naturally, this allegedly universal right also depends on the individual’s wealth and the availability of alternative work and housing options. As a European citizen who decided to make use of this right, I often pause to think about those who have been deprived even of this last resort.


Our Voices

Gender-neutral Natural Science? Yes, Through Phenomenology…

Gendered Science…


Joseph Higgins

hilst the relevance of gender has been an integral concern of the arts & humanities for some time, the fact that natural science is often negatively gendered – that is, heavily biased towards a male perspective – has only come to attention relatively recently. This gendering is evident in numerous ways, such as the association of ‘science’ with ‘masculine qualities’ (e.g. as objective, dispassionate, and logical), the historical tendency of science to overlook the abilities and accomplishments of women,1 and the numerical imbalance in favour of male scientists2 and male scientific subjects.3 In short, natural science has traditionally been a male enterprise, and this tradition continues to infiltrate modern scientific techniques, hypotheses and conclusions. How, then, can this bias be removed so as to deliver fair, honest and fully rounded natural sciences? The answer lies in complementing our current scientific practices with new phenomenologically sensitive approaches.

A Scientific Defence?... Before proceeding to a description of such phenomenologically sensitive approaches, it is firstly important to note that some natural scientists may balk at the notion of gender having direct relevance to science, in that one could claim the very nature of science is to systematically uncover and organise objective truths about the natural world, and such objectivity requires abstraction away from social constructs and practices such as gender, religion, or cultural heritage. At the very least, many scientists will argue that social and cultural factors are always reducible to the ‘primordial’ levels of natural science (e.g. physics, chemistry or biology). Yet such blinkered views can only be detrimental to scientific research, even to research of a bio-physico-chemical inclination. Consider, for instance, the long-standing biological “fairy tale” of fertilisation, which entails descriptions based on gender stereotypes. The allegedly objective explanation involves ‘masculine’ sperm, which are active, “streamlined” and “efficiently powered”, successfully penetrating a “large and passive” ‘feminine’ ovum in order to initiate the developmental cycle.4 Scientific stories of this ilk are not uncommon and wrongly apply ‘feminine’ traits to female biological processes.


This problem is only compounded once we move to the scientific study of humans. We – as living organisms – encapsulate the stage on which gender is not only evident in theoretical and analytical processes, but is directly manifest in the presence and interaction between experimenters and experimental participants. We already have an abundance of research informing us of divergences in male and female cognition5 and behavioural experience.6 How, then, can we claim to have a genuine science of a naturalistically grounded ‘human subject’ if we seek a purely objective science that abstracts away from the genders that we embody and enact through our every thought and movement?

The Solution? Revolution!... A solution to this negative gender-bias in natural science is to move towards a science that is appropriately sensitive to the gendered states of experimenters and participants in research projects. A radical pursuit of such sensitivity can be achieved by making science phenomenologically permeated – that is, permeated by the subjectively experienced phenomena of consciousness. ‘Neurophenomenology’ is one field that is making moves in this direction. The idea behind neurophenomenology is “to marry modern cognitive science and a disciplined approach to human experience”7 by uniting expert first-person reports with third-person data in a mutually illuminating and co-determining exchange. The first-person subjective reports and third-person objective data are not intended to be merely cross-referenced; rather, the former are used to set experimental parameters for the latter, which can then be altered through further iterations of reports and data.8 In this way, objective science can be suffused with all manner of experiential phenomena, including our embodiment of, and sensitivity to, gender.9 Phenomenological approaches to science are very much at an early stage of methodological development and they thus face some opposition.10 There is also the difficulty that phenomenology is only relevant to human science. Yet one cannot deny that it provides an intriguing perspective from which to complement and, perhaps, revolutionise existing scientific practices. Of course, the point is not to deny that there is a place and value to the abstraction and objectivity of traditional scientific studies. The worth of such approaches is evident in the many incredible advancements that humankind has made in almost all modes of life. Yet the picture will always remain incomplete without a proper appreciation of the gendered nature of human subjects. Natural science should not only open its doors to greater interdisciplinary collaboration with socially oriented fields, but also to the lived subjectivities of scientists and, where relevant, the human ‘objects’ of scientific research. In this way, natural science can be rid of gender-bias and will thence cease to reinforce the culture of patriarchy that pervades all forms of academia and beyond.

1 Kournay, J.A., 2011, Philosophy of Science after Feminism, 4-11 2 WISE, 2015, [online] 2/2017) 3 Beery, A.K. and Zucker, I., 2011, ‘Sex bias in neuroscience and biomedical research’, Neuroscience and Behavioural Reviews, 35(3), 565-572. Kim, A.M., Tingen, C.M. and Woodruff, T.K., 2010, ‘Sex bias in trials and treatment must end’, Nature, 465, 688-689 4 Martin, E., 1991, ‘The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical MaleFemale Roles’, Signs, 16 (3), 485-501 5 Abraham, A., 2015, ‘Gender and creativity: an overview of psychological and neuroscientific literature’, Brain Imaging and Behavior, 10(2), 609-618. Moriguchi, Y., Touroutoglou, A., Dickerson, B. and Feldman Barrett, L., 2013, ‘Sex differences in the neural correlates of affective experience’, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(5), 591-600 6 Kaspar, K., Jurisch, A. and Schneider, M., 2015, ‘Embodied Cognition and Humor: The Impact of Weight Sensations on Humor Experience and the Moderating Role of Gender’, Current Psychology, 35(3), 377-385. Wiesenfeld-Hallin, Z., 2005, ‘Sex differences in pain perception’, Gender Medicine, 2(3), 137-145 7 Varela, F., 1996, ‘Neurophenomenology: A methodological remedy for the hard problem’, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 3, 330–349, p.330 8 Lutz, A. and Thompson, E., 2003, ‘Neurophenomenology’, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10(9-10), 31-52 9 The idea of gender-sensitive science would only apply directly to human science. It could come in one of two forms: (i). appreciating gender as a permanently relevant scientific category, such that data is classified and reviewed in light of the genders of participants and experimenters. (ii). integrating first-person reports of self- and other-conceptions of femininity and masculinity with neuroimaging data (in a manner analogous to the (re-)insertion of phenomenal categories in Lutz et al.’s (2002) neurophenomenological study). 10 Bayne, T., 2004, ‘Closing the gap? Some questions for neurophenomenology’, Phenomenology and Cognitive Sciences, 3(4), 349-364

Our Voices

Gendered Resilience

Cat McDermott


hether in fictional narrative or in the immediacy of our own lived realities, Lauren Berlant (2011) argues that our relationship to genre is what constructs our expectations of how an event is likely to unfold. Both fictional and lived genres therefore provide us with conceptual structuring principles for how our lives are most likely to progress. In this sense, the genres we encounter have the capacity to orient our desire towards particular ways of living, and away from others. The primary genres addressing women and girls over the last two decades were dominated by a postfeminist culture that appeared to offer women freedom through their spending power, choice of consumer products and performance of an ‘up for it’ sexuality. Broadly speaking, postfeminism denotes a shift in cultural discourse away from ostensibly old-fashioned political terms like ‘sexism’ and ‘women’s rights’, and a focus instead on a more generalised ideal of ‘empowerment’ for women, primarily through their individual economic and sexual independence. These examples of gendered ideals about how to live fulfilling lives as women and girls continue to inform our popular mainstream narratives. The ubiquity of such mainstream conventions produces an affective response, even in cases where we may not personally adhere to these ways of living. This means that we intuitively recognise that following gendered expectations offers the promise of social inclusion, happiness and fulfilment. My research explores the aftermath of the cultural dominance of postfeminist genres, investigating the kinds of gendered identities and genre norms that emerge in its wake. The impact of postfeminism is only now beginning to crystallise, coinciding with a media resurgence of multiple new strands of feminism. Within this context, I draw on the work of feminist sound studies scholar Robin James who investigates ‘resilience’ as one of the key defining features of contemporary girlhood. In particular, I analyse how resilience has become a gendered trait or expectation of female characters, and how media texts use an audio-visual language of resilience to construct their female protagonists. Resilience in popular culture often manifests through the trope of the ‘strong female character’, who communicates an implicit imperative for us to embody the same kinds of strength and resilience in our own lives. Characters such as Ellen Ripley, the protagonist of the Alien (1979-2017) franchise, were once heralded for their transgression of traditional gender norms. In our contemporary media landscape, Ripley’s form of female strength has become the new normal. One of the primary ways we learn to read and recognise strength and resilience in female characters is through their overcoming of trauma. In particular, the types of trauma are often gendered. For example, the hacker genius Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005) must endure systemic rape and sexual abuse as part of her narrative trajectory toward resilience. This kind of narrative offers us an affectively congruent femininity, one that incorporates traditional notions of fragility or passivity, so

that they can be triumphantly overcome, producing a resilient subject with which we can identify. Essential to James’s concept of resilience is the idea that an individual’s resilience labour in overcoming gendered adversity often generates value for the social institutions and hierarchal structures that inflicted the harm in the first place. One result of this process is that adversity and oppression produced by such hierarchies become naturalised. Céline Sciamma’s coming of age film Girlhood (2014; originally released in France with the title Bande de Filles, which translates as ‘Girl Gang’) offers us an example of a female protagonist, Marieme, whose resilience gains her access to and acceptance within the patriarchal structures of her world. The dominance of patriarchy is established through the figures of the neighbourhood boys of the Paris banlieues who rule Marieme’s public sphere, while her abusive older brother governs her home life. In several key moments throughout the film, Marieme capitalises on the oppression of other girls in order to gain higher status within her community. However, what is significant about Girlhood is that although Marieme narratively gains strength and power, the film does not work formally to reproduce this affectively for the spectator. The formal elements of the film, such as ominous soundtrack, are more likely to generate fear for Marieme’s situation, rather than a sense of resilience in these moments. Conversely, the only instances where resilience is affectively conveyed to the spectator is during sequences that affirm Marieme’s connection and friendship with other girls. In one of the highlights of the film, Marieme and her newfound group of friends plan a party in a Paris hotel room, where they try on their glamorous shoplifted dresses (with security tags intact), smoke, drink and dance to Rihanna’s electro-pop ballad ‘Diamonds’. This immersive sequence emphasises the strength Marieme and her friends draw from one another as they fluidly twirl, jumping and lip-syncing in collective harmony. In the song’s final chorus, their inter-group intimacy is highlighted as the girls’ own voices break out into the soundtrack, merging with Rihanna’s vocals. The aural intervention provides a striking instance of affective resilience for the spectator, further immersing us in Marieme’s interior world. Throughout Girlhood, Sciamma delivers on our expectations of strength and resilience. She does so, however, in such a way that demonstrates the importance of constructing the kinds of resilience that counter hierarchies of oppression, rather than naturalising their power. In terms of the hierarchical structures at play in Girlhood, the resilience the ‘Diamonds’ sequence produces works to affirm femininity, rather than the dominance of hyper-masculinity that pervades the film from the outset as the primary power dynamic structuring Marieme’s everyday world. What makes the film so powerful is that it reserves instances of spectatorial affective resilience for moments in which girlhood itself is celebrated.


Our Voices


‘Framing Effects’ and their Impact on our Perceptions of Gender

round beef tastes nicer when it’s labelled as 75% lean, as opposed to 25% fat. More specifically, people evaluate one and the same sample of beef differently depending on which of the two logically equivalent presentations of its nutritional value they hear. This is an example of the well-researched phenomenon of ‘framing effects’, whereby we make different decisions about a particular a choice when it is presented in different ways. Although discussions of framing effects are most often found in marketing circles (should your wine list start with the most or least expensive wine if you want your customer to spend more?), I am interested in how framing effects might shape how we think about gender, and therefore I am investigating scientific papers and newspaper articles. To get a grip on how this might happen, let’s first consider a recent study into framing effects in an undergraduate genetics course. Standard genetics textbooks start by discussing Mendelian genetics. Generally, this approach treats genes as directly determining an organism’s traits, independently of the environment. Breed a yellow and green pea together, and the first offspring is always yellow, as the ‘gene for’ the yellow trait (the ‘yellow gene’) is dominant. Later, the textbooks make the qualification that most genetics is not as simple as this. More recent ‘interactionist’ research teaches that what a gene is ‘for’ changes in response to how it interacts with the environment: a gene might be ‘for’ one colour in one environment, but ‘for’ another colour in a different environment. Interactionist research emphasises how a gene’s function is plastic and contingent, and can be highly unpredictable in novel environments. The Genetics Pedagogies Project in Leeds has created a new course that reverses the order in which the standard course presents information about genetics—they start with interactionist research, discussing Mendelian ideas much later. What is fascinating is that despite the same information being presented, ordering it differently altered the students’ views on genetics. Those following the amended curriculum were found to have far less deterministic views about genes by the end of their course; more specifically, they were far less likely to see genes as ‘super’ causes that completely determine an organism’s traits. How does changing the order of information alone have this impact? By discussing something first, one gives the impression that it is the most important piece of information. By first discussing Mendelian genetics, the traditional textbook elevated this approach, anchoring it in the students’ minds.


Ella Whiteley

This meant that when they later learned of the interactionist research that complicates their original Mendelian picture, they gave it less salience; interactionist genetics was seen more as providing exceptions to the rule – i.e. the rule that ‘genes determine traits’ – as opposed to provoking them to reformulate their previous understanding. Something that the project creators point to in explaining this shift in student attitude is the prevalence of genetic determinism in our cultural context. We are surrounded by oversimplified and deterministic conceptions of genes in the media. Think of those newspaper articles saying that the ‘gay gene’ has been discovered; these treat complex traits like homosexuality as being controlled by our genes. The Mendelian conception of genetics, emphasised by the traditional textbook, resonates with this popular cultural narrative of genetic determinism; talk of yellow genes directly determining a pea’s colour panders to the cultural narrative that genes are super causes of an organism’s traits. How is this relevant to gender? There are many feminist analyses of cultural stereotypes shaping scientific and journalistic articles about gender. Learning about framing effects gives us another way to locate a particularly subtle form of bias that an article might perpetuate. Consider two hypothetical papers that discuss roughly the same information about gender psychology: the former discusses differences before addressing similarities, whilst the latter begins with similarities. The Genetics Pedagogies Project gives us reason to think that the two articles might invoke different conceptions of gender in the reader. We might worry that the first paper could leave readers with the impression that men and women have very different minds. Once we look for cultural narratives that might resonate with this framing (of differences before similarities), our worry might build. One very pervasive social narrative is that ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’. We see this in popular books of this title, through to newspapers claiming that neuroscientific scans prove that men and women are hardwired differently. Gender may be impacting our research, therefore, in subtle ways. Pervasive cultural narratives of gender differences may be inviting us to frame our findings in a particular way that best accommodates these narratives. Just as with the Genetics Pedagogies Project, it can be important proactively to adopt a frame for our research that counteracts prevalent cultural narratives, which, if pandered to in our framing choices, are likely to distort our thinking.

Our Voices

The Wonderful World of Roman Gender Lucy Elkerton


hen asked what I am researching – at family parties or networking events, I have a number of responses but they all include the words ‘mosaics’ and ‘gender’. Mosaics are my material: they are the fabulously rich floors that the Romans built into their houses, their baths, their shops, and are decorated with wonderful images of gods and goddesses, heroes and monsters, and other fantastical scenes. Gender is the lens through which I study these artefacts. Gender provides the framework for my work, the background of all the questions that I am asking. When I say ‘gender’ I am thinking about ideas of identity – of the way in which this particular society perceives ideas of masculinity and femininity. Of course, it is not as straightforward as that (it never is in academia!). Gender here is not a fixed, concrete, unchanging concept. It is something that each society creates anew for itself. To demonstrate this, I often use a shorthand headline ‘fact’: that the Romans had roughly six different genders. They saw gender as being very much connected with power and status, and with action, rather than biological sex. The Romans thought that how you behaved (especially in the bedroom), was much more important about defining your gender than your genitals. So, the manliest man was the elite male who, not to be crude here, penetrated who he wanted, when he wanted, where he wanted. Those who were penetrated – most often, women and young men and boys, were a lesser gender. Being born with a penis was not an automatic guarantee of acceptance to the male gender. This is reflected in some of the most popular insults from the authors of the day: for example, Cicero (one of the greatest political speakers of the day) frequently insulted his opponents by saying that he liked to be penetrated: ‘You were as firmly wedded to Curio as if he had given you a married woman’s dress. No boy bought for lust was ever

as much in his master’s power as you were in Curio’s’ This quote is from his speech against Mark Antony, and implies that he is allowing himself to be penetrated by a boy, to play the part of a lesser gender – like a woman or a slave. We can also see it in the mosaics below. These two images (from the same mosaic) show two of the god Zeus’s sexual conquests – Ganymede (a young boy) and Europa (a woman). The interesting thing is the way in which, despite our modern eyes dividing them strictly into male and female genders, the image itself makes no distinction. They have the same pose – the same sinuous curve of the body. Both images clearly invite the viewer to look at these bodies with erotic pleasure. Both are of the same gender, both are equally ‘desirable’ My research therefore, is fundamentally shaped by ideas of gender. I use these mosaics to explore how this particular provincial society perceived of these ideas. I hope that it is a way to challenge and disrupt the narrative of gender that is prevalent in Western culture – that our idea of gender is permanent and therefore infallible. It can then be used to persecute those who don’t appear to conform. Even in small ways, I have struggled to escape the impact of my own gender in my life and my research. When discussing my master’s thesis – a test case for this project – with the eminent professor who was head of the department, he was surprised that it had never been done before. You see, he kindly explained to me, there are female archaeologists in Spain… If you can’t beat them, let’s displace their complacency instead.


Our Voices

Researching Sex Offenders: The Experience of a Female Researcher


his article will present a personal reflection on my experiences, as a female researcher, of conducting fieldwork with sex offenders in prison. Gender has been considered a significant characteristic in conducting fieldwork in prison (Jewkes 2011; Crewe 2014) and to researching sex offenders (Blagden and Pemberton 2010; Roberts 2011). Due to space constraints this article will focus on my experience with those who have offended against adult women, although gender has also been considered significant in researching child sex offenders (Roberts 2011). Fourteen of the twenty-five men I interviewed were convicted of sexual crimes against adult women. In almost all cases the crime in question was rape, sometimes with additional elements such as abduction. Some participants did discuss the particulars of their offences, causing discomfort on my part that it was important not to show. However, at no point during the fieldwork did I feel threatened by participants. I felt horrified by their offences but these often seemed very far removed from the men who now sat in front of me. This was a source of some confusion as it caused a conflict between unavoidable preconceived ideas about the participants as offenders and the reality of participants as people. The men who were most descriptive about their offences seemed to me to be those who felt most shame and remorse. They were not trying to intimidate me. My gender therefore, while it may have served to increase empathy with victims, was not enough to make me feel that I was a target. Nevertheless, sitting in small interview rooms alone with these men, my awareness of my own gender was heightened. Was my clothing and body language appropriate? Was it overly feminine? Would this impact on the quality of the interviews? In this environment you begin to question everything about the way you present yourself.


I was aware before entering the fieldsite that those I interviewed may hold negative views about women, for example, viewing women as objects or as untrustworthy (Polaschek and Gannon 2004). Interviews did suggest that negative views of women exist in this environment. For example, there was a general minimisation of the crime of rape – one participant even stating he was ‘just a rapist’ – and a view that this crime may actually be a demonstration of masculinity, with child sex offenders being asked ‘are you not even man enough to rape a woman?’. However, I did not feel during the interviews that there was any hostility demonstrated towards myself. This could simply have been disguised or those with the most hostile attitudes may not have volunteered to participate. Nevertheless, I did share experiences similar to Pemberton’s – for example where comments were made about her ‘nice eyes’ and another prisoner shouted to one of her interviewees ‘go on [name] you know you want to’ (Blagden and Pemberton 2010) – where my gender was obviously apparent to participants. For example, one participant made enquiries about my lack of wedding ring and several participants frequently glanced at my chest throughout our interviews. These experiences

Mhairi Gavin

do add an additional difficulty in maintaining a professional composure. Hudson (2005) considered how her experience researching sex offenders impacted her personal relationships with men in her life, for example, causing her to feel uncomfortable when her father hugged her. I was largely able to avoid such impact and maintained positive relationships with my partner, my father, and my brother. There were, however, occasional incidents that triggered responses that were no doubt influenced by the fieldwork process, for example feeling uncomfortable when out late with a group of friends and having one participant’s detailed account of his offence, which happened in similar circumstances to those in which I found myself, come repeatedly to mind. This led to me feeling a lot more vulnerable than I generally would in such a situation. In spite of these challenges it is still possible to develop rapport with these participants and obtain meaningful data. For me, an important technique came down to the view I chose to take of those I interviewed. I found I was able to separate my view of the offenders from my view of their offences. Everyone, no matter how horrendous their offences, retains some shred of humanity on which it is possible to form a connection. This is an effort that needs to be undertaken. As Waldram (2007) argues: If we do not make an attempt to understand those who violate our social norms by perpetrating violence, and yet are unwilling to provide life sentences or support capital punishment, then we are most certainly likely to fall victim again. Sometimes it is in our best interests to listen, however difficult that may be. References Blagden, N. and Pemberton, S. (2010) ‘The Challenge in Conducting Qualitative Research With Convicted Sex Offenders’, The Howard Journal, 49(3), pp 269-281. Crewe, B. (2014) ‘Not Looking Hard Enough: Masculinity, Emotion, and Prison Research’, Qualitative Inquiry, 20(4), pp 392-403. Hudson, K. (2005) Offending Identities: Sex offenders’ perspectives on their treatment and management. Cullompton: Willan Publishing. Jewkes, Y. (2011) ‘Autoethnography and Emotion as Intellectual Resources: Doing Prison Research Differently’, Qualitative Inquiry, 18(1), pp 63-75. Polaschek D.L.L. and Gannon T.A. (2004) ‘The Implicit Theories of Rapists: What Convicted Offenders Tell Us’, Sex Abuse, 16(4), pp 299-314 Roberts, S. (2011) ‘Doing Research with Imprisoned Adult Male Child Sexual Abusers: Reflecting on the Challenges’, Child Abuse Review, 20, pp 187-196. Waldram, J.B. (2007) ‘Everybody Has a Story: Listening to Imprisoned Sexual Offenders’, Qualitative Health Research, 17(7), pp 963-970.


Our 2017 Symposium ‘Gendered Voices’ Date: 18th/19th May Location: University of Bristol Following the success of our 2016 Symposium, the Gender and Sexuality Cluster is very pleased to announce the upcoming interdisciplinary conference on the theme of ‘Gendered Voices’! The conference will take place on 18th and19th May 2017 at the University of Bristol. Registration is now open to postgraduates and early career researchers (including postdocs). We welcome attendees from any discipline, as we aim to bring together researchers from across the academic spectrum to discuss different perspectives on gender, sex, sexuality, and the body. The theme ‘Gendered Voices’ includes, but is not limited to: Voices of protest Gendered expression, e.g. through theatre, performance, and song Literary voices; art and literature as a mode of communication Voices in history Unheard/hidden voices Voices of authority; in the law, hierarchies, domestic spheres, etc. Virtual voices/ online identities The conference will include both twenty-minute papers and ‘flash paper’ sessions with five minute presentations, where researchers can present a research problem, reflections on their work or a short summary of their thesis. If you would like to register please contact Tabitha via email at We hope that the day will spark productive and engaging discussions across disciplines and we look forward to meeting you all!



Gendered Spaces

A Report on our Postgraduate Symposium


he SWW DTP Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster held its first official symposium on the 18th May, and we are pleased to announce that it was a very successful event! Carrying the broad theme of ‘Gendered Spaces’ the symposium was truly interdisciplinary, with sixteen speakers coming a range of backgrounds including Philosophy, Modern Languages, History, English and Politics to name a few. Due to the high numbers of fascinating and provoking submissions for the symposium, we split the morning into two panels: the first presented three twenty minute papers loosely based on gender theory, while the second featured seven five minute ‘flash’ papers on a range of topics. Yanos Soubieski started us off with a presentation on “Gender Identity as a Space of Struggle”, contemplating gender as an imposed identity and whether it is possible to exist outside of it. This set the scene for much of the rest of the day, introducing a range of gender theories for others to build upon. Ana Tomcic followed with a discussion of the interwar, gendered philosophies of H.D. and Sigmund Freud through her paper “Who can Enter the 4th Dimension? Gender, Class and Transcendental Eroticism in H.D. and Freud”, before Eleri Lloyd finished up the first panel with provoking thoughts on whether architecture can or should be gendered. After the break, seven flash papers took us through a whirlwind of topics. In brief: - Kirsty Bolton – ‘“That theire husbands shuld neuer see them


in theyr child bed”: the fairy covenant and male exclusion from the childbirth room’ - Stephen Heptinstall – ‘During Sickness: Experiencing the Shared Space of the Farmhouse’ - Mariana Howell – ‘Literary representations of motherhood and Madness’ - Netta Chachamu – ‘Equality and Diversity training at UK universities’ - Steven Roberts (funded by Bristol Alumni) – ‘The World’s First Widescreen Queen: Staging Elizabeth II in CinemaScope Newsreels’ - Elizabeth Kajs – ‘Käthe Kollowitz’s Explorations of Public and Private’ - Justine Shaw – ‘Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the maternal host’ These all offered great material for discussion, and it was interesting to see that Kirsty’s discussion of the home as a private sphere for women during childbirth was mirrored to an extent in Stephen’s talk about how the quality of the home was changed during male sickness on 21st century farms. A lively discussion of maternity and expressions of gender then took us through to lunch. After lunch, Kay Westoby kicked off our afternoon of sessions with an unflinching, thought provoking and, at points, humorous discussion of the body as a gendered space. Touching on some of the themes surrounding the body discussed earlier in the day, Kay highlighted ideas on the sensory intrusion of the feminine bodily functions of menstruation and ideas of


contraception and penetration as facets which shape the space of the body. Jennie Lewis followed with a fascinating historical and theoretical paper on the development of boxing in the early 20th century and how it cultivated a new environment in which ideas of masculinity, both homosexual and heterosexual, could be practiced. Jennie used modern and historical examples to place her discussion in context, and, by focusing on ideas of masculinity rather than femininity, was a refreshing addition. Next, we went back even further in time to Roman Iberia where Lucy Elkerton took us through a range of mosaics and the representations of gender in mythical scenes. Like Eleri’s talk, Lucy’s paper was very visual and therefore interactive with the audience, presenting us with a range of images to engage with and consider. Lucy discussed the intention of those crafting these mosaics, the ideologies of the time relating to gender, and how the use of space within these buildings would have effected how the mosaics were seen, perceived and by whom. Each of these three papers sparked a range of questions and discussion which could have gone on indefinitely, but after the break it was time for our two final papers Adam Vaughan started us off with his paper on identity performance in LGBTQ documentary film, and showed us clips from two documentaries: I am Divine, about the life of the eponymous drag Queen, and Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, about a controversial photographer who, among other things, depicted graphic homoeroticism. Both documentaries presented individuals who pursued extremes and raised visibility for the LGBTQ community and prompted awareness and a mix of reactions among audiences and critics.

Finally, Sophie Payne, one of our organisers, presented on ‘Contemporary Feminist Protest in Germany and the UK’ with particular emphasis on the controversial group Femen. Sophie presented to us the group’s causes, their ideologies, media response and their socio-cultural background and then impartially let us as an audience discuss and decide what we thought about them. Sophie’s talk in many ways brought together some of the broader themes of the day and sparked questions, debate and a range of opinions about the very nature of feminism, what feminist protest should entail and how the issues and inequalities relating to the gendered spaces we live in can most effectively be overcome. After a lively and interactive discussion, everyone seemed to leave feeling inspired and as if they had learned something new, or been made to consider something from a new perspective. Feedback at the reception afterwards let us know how much people enjoyed hearing talks from such a wide range of fields and interacting with people from disciplines and departments that they never usually would have the chance to. It seemed that the postgraduate-led environment had fostered a real feeling of uninhibited and supportive discussion, and led to a contagious enthusiasm both for our separate subjects and shared themes. We feel that the day allowed for strong networks to be developed, which should definitely pave the way for a second symposium! Thank you to everyone who talked, participated, attended and helped to make it such a rewarding day. Special thanks as well to the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership for encouraging, facilitating and funding this event. We will keep you posted about future events!




Upcoming Events

e have created this section of the magazine in order to inform you about upcoming events which explore issues of gender and/or sexuality. If you would like for us to include such an event in our next issue of the magazine please contact us at

Networks and Seminar Series An announcement from The Gender and Sexuality Research Network (a partner of the Gender and Sexuality cluster at the SWW DTP): The Gender and Sexuality Research network is an interdisciplinary research group focusing on gender studies based at the University of Reading. The aim of the network is to provide a supportive and collaborative space for those whose work or interests include aspects of gender and sexuality to share ideas and stimulate discussion across disciplines. We warmly welcome academics and students from any department who would like to get involved. Meetings involve a twenty minute paper given by either a graduate student or a lecturer. Afterwards there is a discussion in which everybody can get involved. The atmosphere of the group is very friendly and particularly suits graduate students who would like some feedback on their research. Have a look at our programme (on page 35) for upcoming events and contact details. You can check out our blog ( and follow us on twitter @ReadingGender.

Roles 7th Annual Conference - Thursday 18th May 2017 We are delighted to announce that the Roles Sexuality & Gender Forum at the University of Birmingham will be holding its 7th annual conference on the Thursday 18th May 2017 and we are now calling for papers. The conference will be offering an interdisciplinary space, and we invite you to submit abstracts related to any and all aspects of the study of Sexuality and Gender. This conference is organised by postgraduate students and is designed to provide a platform for presenting research to an audience of students and established academics alike. Please send your abstract to by Saturday 11th March 2017 (max 250 words plus 50 word bio). If you would like any more information on this conference then do not hesitate to get in touch via email or social media. You can also look at our blog, where you will find details of our previous work as a forum including last year’s conference. We look forward to receiving your submissions! This is a free event and we will strive to make this conference fully accessible. We will have facilities for wheelchair access and rest spaces. Please contact us if you have any questions or further access requirements. There will be live tweeting of the event. Facebook: Twitter: @groles WordPress:



Upcoming Events

The Gender and Sexuality Forum at the University of Southampton

The forum organises a seminar series for postgraduates. Upcoming talks include: 28th February, 5-7pm, Room 65/1143, Avenue Campus: ‘Adventures in Eighteenth Century Property Law: The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Woman’. The talk will be given by Alison Daniell, English PhD student at the University of Southampton 13th March, 5-7pm, Room 65/1142, Avenue Campus: ‘Whose Heritage is it Anyway?: Making Space for the Woman of Colour in Amma Asante’s Belle (2014)’. The paper will be presented by Sarah Smyth, Film PhD student at the University of Southampton Twitter: @GandSSoton

Gendered Lives research Group at the University of Loughborough The Gendered Livers research Group would like to invite you to the following events. For more details follow them on twitter @GenderedL and check out their blog: https://genderedlives. Spring 22nd February, research seminar, 2-4 pm, Martin Hall, MHL.1.17A. Katherine Johnson (Psychology, Brighton) and Gemma Witcomb (Psychology, Loughborough). Titles and abstracts will go up on the blog in due course.  29th March, working lunch, 1-2 pm, Martin Hall, MHL.0.07.  29th March, PGR research-in-progress presentations, 3-5 pm, Martin Hall, MHL.0.07.  Summer 3rd May, research seminar, 2-4 pm, Martin Hall, MHL.0.07. Jana Funke (Medical Humanities, Exeter) and Sarah Parker (English, Loughborough).   Titles and abstracts will go up on the blog in due course.  24th May, working lunch, 1-2 pm, room MHL 1.17A.

The Society for the History of Women in the Americas Our contributor, Elizabeth Maeve Barnes, has recommended the ‘Society for the History of Women in the Americas’. The seminars are free and everyone is welcome. Have a look at their website for more details: You can also follow them on twitter @SHAWSociety. 34



SPRING SEMINARS MONDAYS 4-5PM, HUMSS 280 The Gender and Sexuality Research Network is pleased to announce the seminar programme for Autumn Term 2016. No registration needed; all welcome! We are an interdisciplinary research group based at the University of Reading. Our aim is to provide a supportive and collaborative space for those whose work or interests include aspects of gender, sexuality and the body to share ideas and stimulate discussion across disciplines. We warmly welcome academics and students from any department who would like to get involved. Meetings involve a twenty minute paper followed by a Q&A. Maria Tomlinson Sophie Payne


Is There a Role for Grandparents in Reconciling Work and Family Life? 9th January 2017 Ruksar Sattar, Law (Leicester) Can We Hear "Girlhood"? Female Adolescence as Musical Affect in Film 16th January 2017 Gemma Edney, Film (Exeter) Deconstruction of the Voice in Drag Lip-Sync Performance 30th January 2017 Jacob Bird, Musicology (Oxford) Women’s Employment and Empowerment in Saudi Arabia 6th February 2017 Mona Almunaiey, Politics Surviving the English Civil Wars as a Widow 20th February 2017 Hanna Worthen, History (Leicester) Reflections on Writing the Female Grotesque 27th February 2017 Karina Lickorish Quinn, English The Medieval Woman and the Western World 6th March 2017 Marco Prost, Modern Languages Mixed Race Relationships and Women’s Magazines in 1950s Britain 13th March 2017 Anna Maguire, History (King’s) Experience of Time and Subjectivity in Motherhood Writing 20th March 2017 Mariana Howell, English Literature (Southampton)


Gender and Sexuality Forum We would like to welcome you to our second seminar:

“Adventures in Eighteenth Century Property Law: The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Woman� By Alison Daniell, English PhD student at University of Southampton

Presentation and Discussion

Monday, 20th February 2017, 5pm-7pm Room 65/1163, Avenue Campus Refreshments will be provided



Call For Papers



RESCO Interdisciplinary Conference 2017: Call for Papers Women, Authorship, and Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century: New Methodologies Saturday, 17 June 2017 Taylorian Institution and Radcliffe Humanities Building, University of Oxford Keynote Speaker: Professor Susanne Kord (Chair of German, University College London) We are delighted to invite proposals for papers offering new approaches female authorship and identity in the long eighteenth century. Since the 1970s, feminist criticism has rediscovered a vast body of literary works by eighteenth-century women and uncovered a great deal about the diverse roles that women played in eighteenth-century society and culture, as authors, actresses, translators, and public figures. Studies of women’s writing have challenged our understandings of genre, periodisation, and authorship, and gender has become an integral part of any discussion of individual identity. Organised by Romanticism and Eighteenth-Century Studies Oxford (RECSO) and the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), this conference aims to take stock after fifty years of important scholarship and to seek out exciting new methodologies for researching women’s writing and identities in the long eighteenth century (c. 1680-c. 1820). We hope to encourage dialogue between disciplines and languages and would welcome papers from researchers and graduate students working in any national tradition and in fields from literature and history to philosophy, music, visual arts, and sociology. Please send proposals of no more than 300 words to Joanna Raisbeck ( and Kelsey Rubin-Detlev ( by 28 February 2017. Papers should be in English and twenty (20) minutes in length. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to): • • • • • • • • • •

Women’s writing in the canon/as a separate canon Women’s writing and the question of aesthetic merit Biography/biographism in scholarship on women’s writing Anthologising and publishing women’s writing Women’s cultural production as a challenge to traditional historiography and periodisation Uses and misuses of critical theory Anonymity and collective authorship in relation to gender Women’s self-fashioning Comparative/cross-cultural approaches to women’s writing Intersections between gendered and other forms of identity in the eighteenth century Women and women’s writing in fields such as science, mathematics, and philosophy



Society for the History of Women in the Americas Annual Conference Thursday 6th July 2017 The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities  The Society for the History of Women in the Americas (SHAW) welcomes proposals for its tenth annual conference, co-organised with The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities and the Rothermere American Institute. We invite 250 word abstracts for 20-minute presentations on any topic, geographical period, chronological time, or theme related to the history of women in the Americas. We also welcome comparative papers between two countries in the Americas or one in the Americas and a country outside the region. The conference welcomes papers from scholars at any stage of their career, especially graduate students. Diana Paton, the William Robertson Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, will deliver the keynote lecture. Please submit abstracts along with a 100-word biography to shawconference2017@gmail. com by the 10th April 2017. Papers chosen for the conference may be selected for inclusion in a special issue of History of Women in the Americas Journal subject to peer-review.



The pasts, presents, and futures of queer mobilities: transnational movements of ideas, concepts, and people 2nd Workshop of the European Network for Queer Anthropology (ENQA) 7th-8th of September, 2017 – Central European University, Budapest Mobility is a foundational element of queer life, queer ideas and concepts as well as of queer scholarship. As such, queer mobilities - literally and conceptually - characterize European modernity and its academic interpretations in fundamental ways. Queer ideas and concepts, for example, are often born out of movements across margins, norms, and boundaries while also being critically attuned to the risks of reconstituting these separating orders of social life and thought. Another dimension of queer mobilities is the movement of LGBTQ people in search of queer spaces and communities. The constitutive Othering and violent exclusion of queer people from families, friends, and loved ones on grounds of their desires has repeatedly led to the destruction and construction of queer spaces and communities and to the queerly mobile lives of those on the move in European contexts. Heteronormative reactions to queer mobilities as well as the marking of migrants, refugees, vagrants, and travelers as perverse and dangerous, have been constant drivers of social change and its scholarly analysis in Europe. Queer theories, activisms, and politics can be understood as emerging in reaction to the normativities of national socialist ideology, the post-World War Two re-traditionalization of European gender relations, and the mainstreaming of latetwentieth century identity politics. Such movements arise from ongoing disidentifications with oppressive violence, normative concepts of identity, exclusionary ideas of community, and not least also the disciplines of “liberation”. These intertwined dynamics of queer mobilities have been critically consequential for modern social life, politics, and scientific thought. In this workshop, we want to engage with the multifaceted ideas, concepts, conditions, and practices of queer mobilities in order to assess and challenge past, present, and future understandings of the relationships between queerness and mobility. The European Network for Queer Anthropology invites contributions to re-assess the past, present, and future of queer mobilities in Europe and European academic discourse. As the workshop’s aim is to further discussion and academic exchange, we welcome a range of different formats, ranging from more traditional paper presentations to work in progress (development of ideas, projects, and thoughts), to roundtables and performances, short films and other more artistic or activistic means of representation. We seek contributions that empirically investigate the complex relations between “queerness” and “mobility” as they emerge in the shifting contexts of modern Europe and their analysis by scholars of queer anthropology. We encourage submissions focusing on these concerns in relation to the following (but not limited to) range of topics and sites: • • • • • • • •

the development of queer concepts, ideas, and scholarship queer(ing) interdisciplinarity and the history of science(s) queer mobilities, technologies, education transnational migration, race and criminalisation patriotism, expat(riotism), urban mobilities and gentrification global histories of LGBTQ people trans* and queer activism trans* and queer (mobility) infrastructures and global intimacies

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short author biography should be sent to enqaeasa(at)gmail. com by no later than the 31st of May 2017. 40


Call for Papers: Imagining the Body in France & the Francophone World Date: 19th and 20th January 2018 Venue: University of Birmingham Confirmed keynote speakers: Dr. Kate Averis & Professor Lisa Downing Organisers: Antonia Wimbush, Polly Galis and Maria Tomlinson The notion of ‘imagining the body’ problematises the possibility of representing the body as it is en soi whether it be depicted textually, visually or orally –, which has remained a matter of conjecture amongst scholars within creative and theoretical fields alike. Interpretations of bodily identity and development have proved equally conflicted, and the vision of a shared bodily experience has generated both comfort and controversy, particularly amongst feminists and within the queer community. What exactly do we mean by the body and how do we represent it? Is there a commonality of bodily experience? The body in all its complexity has fascinated and inspired artists, writers, filmmakers, journalists and philosophers for centuries, and is foundational to the French and Francophone aesthetic regime. This two-day bilingual, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary conference aims to bring together academics and postgraduate researchers working on representations of the body from both French and Francophone studies, in a wide range of disciplines, historical periods, and critical approaches. The purpose of the conference is to facilitate dialogue, debate, and exchange about why it is important to study the body in French and Francophone studies. This conference seeks to question how portrayals and conceptions of the body are influenced by and come to influence global, social phenomena (such as culture, politics, geography, socio-economics, law and medicine), and above all, how French and Francophone creative practice and theory shapes our understanding of the body. The following is an indicative, but by no means exhaustive, list of the kinds of issues we hope to address: • • • • • • • • •

Gender and/or sexuality and the body (the female body, the male body, the transgender body etc.) The maternal body The ageing body Violence and abuse of the body The body in movement/stasis or in situ The body in exile The body and society Animal bodies More ‘abstract’ definitions of the body (such as a body of water or a body of literature) will also be considered • Bodies in transit • Race/ethnicity and the body Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, with your name, institutional affiliation, short biography and contact details, by 22nd May 2017 to Antonia, Polly, and Maria using the email address imaginingthebody@ Papers in both English and French will be welcome and should be no longer than 20 minutes.





Skepsi’s Tenth Annual Interdisciplinary Conference: ‘Time to Remember: Anniversaries, Celebration and Commemoration’ 26th May 2017, University of Kent, Canterbury School of European Culture and Languages We shall be celebrating Skepsi’s tenth anniversary with an interdisciplinary conference that has as its focus memory or more particularly the phenomenon of the anniversary with its dual attributes of celebration and commemoration, depending on the nature of the event which is being remembered. In either case, it sometimes seems that the manner in which the occasion is marked has become a ritual, an opportunity to contemplate how things have changed in the intervening years, how we travel and come to terms with and reflect on past events. At the same time, however, we also wonder why and for how long we need to remember. Remembering past events and marking their anniversary is not a simple process: one person’s celebration is another’s commemoration, as the present division between Greek and Turkish Cypriots bear witness, arguably a legacy of violent historical events in the past visited on one side by the other. During attempts to resolve the problem, the need to mark such events in any way has been questioned; some suggest that a more effective way to re-join the divided communities would be for such memories to fade. Why do we feel compelled to remember once a year events from the past, not only those from our own lives but those which we may never have personally experienced? What are we remembering? Does the act of remembering gradually metamorphose into a ritual the significance of which become hazy) These and other questions can be debated at our interdisciplinary conference. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following and their interrelations: •       National and Personal Identities •       Voluntary Memory (conscious commemorating) and/or Involuntary Memory (the traumatic aspect of remembering) which links to the idea of (un)consciousness •       Individuality and Collectivity •       Gender and Identity/ History •       Time and Recollection (the need for remembrance/ effacement; the relation between time and space) •       Remembering and The Psychological Impact (trauma) •       Belonging and/or Unbelonging (affinity and/or estrangement to a place) •       Historical Commemoration (e.g. the Holocaust memorial) •       The Literary Representation of History Papers should last for 20 minutes and will be followed by a 10-minute discussion. Abstracts of approx. 300 words should be sent as word documents to the conference organising committee at: by 17th March 2017. The e-mail should also include the name of the author, institutional affiliation and brief autobiographical details. Please, also indicate any audio-visual requirements that you may have. The conference is organised by Skepsi, a peer reviewed postgraduate journal based in the School of European Culture and Languages at the University of Kent and funded by the University of Kent (http://



Rethinking Sanditon Chawton House Library, 11th March 2017, 2-5pm

‘Such an unfinished fragment cannot be presented to the public.’ –James Edward Austen-Leigh On March 18th, 1817, 4 months before her death, Jane Austen laid down her pen, leaving 12 chapters of an unfinished manuscript, which came to be known as Sanditon. As her nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh, wrote in his 1871 memoir, ‘it is certain that the mine at which she had so long laboured was not worked out, and that she was still diligently employed in collecting fresh materials from it.’ He suggested that had Austen lived to complete the work, Sanditon’s characters ‘might have grown into as mature an individuality of character, and have taken as permanent a place amongst our familiar acquaintance, as Mr. Bennet, or John Thorp [sic], Mary Musgrove, or Aunt Norris herself.’ The novel remained unpublished in full until 1925. Our ‘Rethinking Sanditon afternoon will consider this unfinished and understudied novel 200 years after its composition.

Programme 1.30 Welcome tea and coffee 2-3 Anne Toner (Trinity College Cambridge) ‘The style of Sanditon’ 3-3.45 Afternoon tea and readings from Sanditon 3.45-5 Michael Biddiss (University of Reading) ‘Sanditon and the Pursuit of Health’ Sarah Comyn (University College Dublin) ‘Speculative Sanditon: Investments in Hypochondria and Deficits in Value’



Writing Art: Women Writers as Art Critics in the Long Eighteenth Century Saturday 25 February 10am-4pm

This one-day conference focuses on women writers as art critics in the late Georgian and early Victorian period. Tickets: ÂŁ35; Students/Friends ÂŁ30 (includes lunch and refreshments) To buy tickets, please visit our website or call us on 01420 541010 45




Gendered Hours: ‘well-employed’ and ‘wasted’ time in Eighteenth-century Women’s Writing

General Reading List: Researching while Gendered, Researching while Feminist

Primary Sources Butler, Joseph, The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, 3rd edn. (London, 1740)

Ahmed, S. (2004). Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism. Borderlands E-Journal, 3 (2).

Cockburn, Catharine Trotter, Catharine Trotter Cockburn Philosophical Writings, ed. Patricia Sheridan (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2006) Locke, John, ‘Book I.- Chapter I. Introduction,’ An Essay concerning Human Understanding (London: 1836), pp.1-8 Locke, John, ‘Book II.- Duration, and its Simple Modes,’ An Essay concerning Human Understanding (London: 1836), pp.109-121 Talbot, Catherine, ‘Saturday: The Importance of Time in Relation to Eternity’, The Works of the late Catherine Talbot, ed. Montagu Pennington, 9th edn. (London, 1819), pp.42-48 Wortley Montagu, Lady Mary, ‘To Lady Bute, 28 Jan. [1753]’, The Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Vol.3: 1752-1762, ed. Robert Halsband (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp.20-24 Secondary Sources Glennie, Paul & Thrift, Nigel, Shaping the Day: A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales 1300-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009) Thompson, E.P., ‘Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,’ Past and Present, No. 38. (Dec., 1967), 56-97

Ahmed, S. (2010). Feminist Killjoys (And Other Willful Subjects). The Scholar and Feminist Online, 8 (3). Baer, H. (2014). Redoing Feminism within and outside the Neoliberal Academy. Women in German Yearbook, 30, 197-208. Ramazano’u, C. & Holland, J. (2002). Feminist Methodology. Challenges and Choices. London, Thousand Oaks & New Delhi: SAGE. Shaw, F. (2013). “These Wars are Personal”: Methods and Theory and Feminist Online Research. Qualitative Research Journal, 13 (1), 90-101. Jenkins, K. (2014). ‘That’s not philosophy’: feminism, academia and the double bind. Journal of Gender Studies, 23 (3), 262-274. Ryan-Flood, R. & Gill, R. (eds.) (2010). Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process. Oxford: Routledge. Hemmings, C. (2005). Telling feminist stories. Feminist Theory, 6 (2), 115-139. Hemmings, C. (2007). What is a feminist theorist responsible for? Response to Rachel Torr. Feminist Theory, 8 (1), 69-76. Zeffiro, A. & Hogan, M. (2015). Suture and Scars: Evidencing the Struggles of Academic Feminism. In: Silva, K. & Mendes, K. (eds.) Feminist Erasures: Challenging Backlash Cultures. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Our Reading Group A report on our most recent meeting The first session of the Gender Reading Group certainly got off to a flying start. We decided to start simple, warming up with the simple question of trying to pin down an idea of Gender itself. Ambitious, yes, but it made for a fruitful discussion. We were discussing an extract from a book by Judith Lorber, ‘”Night to his Day”: The Social Construction of Gender’ (1994). It was a slightly contentious paper, with most of the group finding it inadequate and limited. The focus was on the ways in which society constructs gender, unsurprisingly, but lacked a real understanding of fluidity, and trans identities. We also challenged the ‘social’ aspect – is it only social or is there something connected with biology? Finally, we touched on the National Geographic Gender issue (January 2017) – in particular the heart-breaking portraits of nine year olds all over the world who have already absorbed negative gender stereotypes. All in all, it was a highly enjoyable and thought-provoking session, and we look forward to the next session – keep your eyes peeled for an email detailing our next theme.

Get In Touch

Contact us if…

* You would like to make a comment on any of the issues raised in the magazine (we may publish it in our next edition) * You would like to write for us in the future * You have any suggestions as to what to include in the next issue * You are organising or know of an event related to gender and sexuality you would like us to promote * You would like to get involved in the Gender and Sexuality cluster * You really enjoyed this issue and would like to see another one soon

Rebecca James - Design Editor

Email: Blog: https://genderandsexualityresearch.wordpress. com/ Twitter: @swwgender


Maria Tomlinson - General Editor Credit Asha Lane Photography

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.