Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies
School of Sociology and Social Policy
Social Sciences Building
Leeds, LS2 9JT

Tel: +44 (0) 113 343 3770
Fax: +44 (0) 113 343 4415

CIGS Seminar Series 2014-15

Dr John Mercer: Seeing is believing: ‘Saturated’ Masculinity and Gay Pornography

Date: 28 January 2015, 5.00pm
Location: Room 12.21 and 12.25 Social Sciences Building

Gay pornography, either in print or onscreen, remains a controversial as well as a significantly under-researched area of cultural production. It is a complicated and often contradictory genre that exploits, subverts, celebrates, plays with and calls into question the ways in which masculinity is constructed and what contemporary masculinity might mean. Given that the internet has resulted in an exponential growth in the sheer volume as well as the range of gay porn available to audiences and greatly enhanced access to this material, the need for a sustained exploration of gay pornography and its modes of representation becomes ever more pressing. With this in mind I am now writing a book that explores and situates the rhetorical strategies and iconography of contemporary gay pornography and discusses the paradigm of masculinities that it presents. This presentation will discuss the challenges that studying gay pornography presents for researchers in British universities and will identify some of the issues that all researchers in the field have to consider.

My work in the field over the last 15 years has aimed to illustrate that gay pornography offers plural models of masculinity that are more various and nuanced than they might seem. I argue that gay porn illustrates a contemporary ‘saturated’ masculinity. Ranging from an analysis of ‘mainstream’ gay pornography to the marginal, from glossy professionalism to the artisanal and amateur, the paradox that lies at the heart of gay porn is that it is at points both subversive and normative; undermining orthodoxies of masculine representation at the same time as producing new norms of gay sexual conduct and sexual performance.

John Mercer is Reader in Gender and Sexuality at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. He is the leader of the Screen Cultures research cluster and runs the MA in Screen Studies.

His research interests include film and television genres, celebrity and stardom, the pornography debate, the sexualisation of contemporary media culture and contemporary cultural theory. He is the author (with Martin Shingler) of Melodrama: Genre Style Sensibility and a monograph on Rock Hudson due to be published by the BFI in 2015. John is co-editor of the Journal of Gender Studies, one of the editorial founders of Porn Studies and reviews editor for this new journal. He is also a member of the editorial board of Cine-Excess (and the guest editor of the inaugural issue), editorial board member of Sexualities and is a peer reviewer and guest editor for Celebrity Studies.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2014-15, Events.

Prof. Yvette Taylor: Creating Citizens, Constructing Religion, Configuring Gender

citizens-religion-genderDate: 03 December 2014, 5.00pm
Location: Room 12.21 and 12.25 Social Sciences Building

This paper presents a case-study exploration of Christianity and sexuality in the lives of young lesbians in the UK, drawing upon a larger ESRC funded grant ‘Making Space for Queer Identifying Religious Youth’. Religion matters as a personal and political force, but secularizing trends arguably obscure its influence on the complex convergence and intersection of personal, political, familial, and institutional realms (Brierley, 2006; Heelas and Woodhead, 2005).

While the question of homosexuality has been a central focus in much discussion, highlighting around the presumed discontinuity between sexual identity and Christian identity (O’Brien, 2004), there is still a gap in terms of locating first-hand narratives of self-identified young queer Christians. Rather than assuming that these are separate and divergent paths (Wilcox, 2000), this paper explores intersectional convergences and divergences, illustrating how religious participation can convey (de)legitimation within family, community and society. Such (de)legitimation is revealed in unpacking scripts of inclusion and exclusion (Taylor and Snowdon, 2014), which are (re)circulated via hetero-homo normative ideals, and perpetuated and contested in the context of intersectional Equalities legislation.

Here, I examine the highly gendered and heteronormative ‘role models’, ‘mentors’ and (familial) mediations experienced by young lesbian Christians, as intersecting public–private domains in the production of queer religious subjectivity and dis-identification.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2014-15, Events.

Dr Jacqui Gabb from the Open University: Enduring Love? Relationship work and practices of intimacy in long-term couple relationships

Date: 15 October 2014, 4.00pm
Location: Room 12.25, Social Sciences Building

Using a rich palette of qualitative methods and a large scale online survey, the Enduring Love? project has been studying how couples experience, understand and sustain long-term relationships in contemporary Britain, paying particular attention to the ways in which gender, parenthood and generation shape experience.

In this presentation, I will explore the relationship work that couples do and how this serves to sustain their long-term relationships. Relationship work here is more than the drudgeries of domesticity. It offers couples the opportunity to embrace their relationship – through the pleasures of physical closeness; and to nurture their relationship – emotionally, practically, and symbolically through practices of togetherness which carve out shared time and create couple memories.

Focusing attention on the everyday practices that couples do and the material conditions which shape these personal lives, our conceptualisation of relationship work thus inculcates ideas of work and capital whilst keeping a keen eye on the intensity of emotions. Across the dataset, it was the personal meanings of relationship work that were valued more than their cultural reference points. Commercialised celebrations like Valentine’s Day or grandiose romantic displays from Interflora and/or the ‘guilty’ petrol station bunch of flowers were less fondly received than small acts of kindness. Knowing gestures and familiar relationship practices demonstrated intimate depth of understanding and investment in the long-term couple relationship.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2014-15, Events.

Professor Angelia Wilson – Why Europe is Lesbian and Gay Friendly (and why America never will be)

Date: 12 November 2014, 5.00pm
Location: Room 11.21 and 11.25 Social Sciences Building

Why Europe Is Lesbian and Gay Friendly (and Why America Never Will Be) examines the differences in politics, policy, and culture in leading Western democracies and offers an explanation as to why lesbian and gay citizens in Europe reap more benefits of equality. This analysis of the political economy of care calls attention to the ways in which care is negotiated by various investors (the state, families, individuals, and the faith-based voluntary sector) and the power dynamics of this negotiation.

Historically, Christian churches have been leading primary investors in care, providing a direct safety net for children and the elderly. Despite European secularization, the involvement of the Christian church elites in both the provision of service and the setting of the values frame for welfare cannot be underestimated. The historical involvement of Christian churches is unique in each country, but one common factor is the normative interpretation of “the family.” The role of Christian values—from left-leaning social justice, Reformed Protestant individualism, or social conservatism—in relation to the political economy of care gives a distinctive flavor to questions about under what circumstances policymakers are compelled, or not, to expand policies to include lesbian and gay citizens.

“Why is Europe lesbian and gay friendly—and why will the US never be? Angelia R. Wilson, in this admirable book, finds answers to this question in unexpected places: the heritage of state-church relations, Europe’s single market policies, the crisis of care. By casting her intellectual net that wide, she offers much more than an answer to her book title’s question, and the reader gains nothing less than a much better understanding of the political and moral complexity of social citizenship in Europe and America.” — Philip Manow, University of Heidelberg, coeditor of Religion, Class Coalitions, and Welfare States

“The good news: Wilson’s innovative argument is persuasive—‘gay and lesbian friendly’ policies have to be understood in the context of the political economy of care.  In this way, she creatively adds to such usual suspects, as religiosity, in comparing state policies about sexual inclusion. The bad news: for all the news about gay marriage, the USA still does not come out well.” — Joan C. Tronto, University of Minnesota, coeditor of Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2014-15, Events.

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