Monday 17 Nov 2014, 5pm-7pm: ‘Political Aesthetics of Drag’

‘Political Aesthetics of Drag’

Shaka McGlotten (SUNY)

Monday 17 November 2014, 5pm-7pm, University of Manchester, Room TBC

The Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Culture (CSSC, University of Manchester) with the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology

Drag can be a means of touching queer and other publics, or of mediating one’s economic precarity. It can function as art by other means, or by any means necessary. And like politics, drag can be a duty, a contentious pleasure, or something to dread. This talk presents drag aesthetics as an ethics, focusing specifically on the ways artists and activists use drag to respond to, or reframe some of the pressing political crises of our times, including racism, austerity, and police and military violence, among others. It is constructed as a series of interlocking ethnographic portraits of contemporary drag across three sites, New York City, Berlin, and Israel/Palestine. These stories foreground some of the interlocutors’ competing desires for doing drag – for some it provides a stage from which they can articulate a radical politics, while for others it is a sensual refuge away from politics as they are ordinarily understood. Indeed, in keeping with the lecture series’ theme ‘Desire’s Multiplicity and Serendipity’, McGlotten shows how the desires that animate the drag personas and performances of his informants reflect a diverse array of lived conditions and political aesthetic orientations.

Shaka McGlotten, currently living and working in Berlin as a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, is Associate Professor of Media, Society and Arts at Purchase College-SUNY, where he teaches courses on ethnography, digital culture and queer studies. He is co-editor of Black Genders and Sexualities (Palgrave, 2012) and Zombie Sexuality: Essays on Sex and the Living Dead (McFarland, 2014). He has written and spoken widely about public sex, virtual worlds, gaming, and hook up aps, preoccupations that appear in his monograph, Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality (SUNY Press, 2013).

Thurs 16 October 2014, 4pm-7pm: ‘Differently Queer: Sexuality and Aesthetics in Pier Paolo Pasolini and Elsa Morante’

‘Differently Queer: Sexuality and Aesthetics in Pier Paolo Pasolini and Elsa Morante’

Research Seminar with Professor Manuele Gragnolati (Somerville College, Oxford) 

4pm-7pm, Thursday 16 October 2014, University of Manchester, University Place 3.211

(organised by Dr Francesca Billiani, Italian)

This paper explores the analogies and differences in the aesthetics of the late works by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Elsa Morante. Both authors mobilize a contorted, inverted, and suspended temporality that resists linearity and teleology and, instead, allows for the articulation of paradoxical pleasures that cannot be inscribed in a normative logics of development, conversion, or productivity. In this sense the late aesthetics of Pasolini and Morante replicates a queer form of sexuality, but while in the case of Pasolini it enacts self-shattering and oblivion, it embraces inversion, fluidity, and memory in the case of Morante.
The paper will be followed by a discussion of the reading (see below), as well as Professor Gragnolati’s new book, Amor che move. Linguaggio del corpo e forma del desiderio in Dante, Pasolini e Morante (Milan: il Saggiatore, 2013).  The event will close with a wine reception at Kro bar from 7pm.


Gragnolati, Manuele, ‘Analogy and Difference: Multistable Figures in Pasolini’s Appunti per un’Orestiade Africana’, in The Scandal of Self-Contradiction: Pasolini’s Multistable Subjectivities, Geographies, Traditions, ed. by Luca di Blasi, Manuele Gragnolati, and Christoph F. E. Holzhey (Berlin: Verlag Turia & Kant, 2012), pp. 119-134

Available here:

The event is supported by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts and Languages (CIDRAL), The University of Manchester. For more on this seminar, please visit here.

Tuesday 10 December, ‘Porn: A Roundtable’

Porn A Roundtable 10 Dec

Earlier this year, newspapers and other media reported the founding of a new scholarly journal, Porn Studies—setting off, predictably, a flurry of responses ranging from interest to outrage by way of derision. Pornography has always been a legal, ethical and political battlefield, and looks likely to remain so. But what is ‘pornography’? And what is its history? The word itself was coined in the nineteenth century; but what of earlier periods? Can we speak of medieval or early modern pornography? And what is at stake in our decision to do (or not to do) so? Join Hal Gladfelder, David Matthews and Kaye Mitchell for a roundtable on the complex, troubled history of a word, and the debates provoked by the bawdy, erotic, and obscene from the middle ages to the present.

(Image Credit: N. Maxwell Lander)

Tuesday 19 November, Jackie Stacey, ‘Embodying Queer Temporalities: The Future Perfect of Peggy Shaw’s Butch Noir’

peggy shaw

Tuesday 19th November, 5pm-7pm

Professor Jackie Stacey (Manchester)

‘Embodying Queer Temporalities: The Future Perfect of Peggy Shaw’s Butch Noir’

Room A101, Samuel Alexander Building

The University of Manchester  –  All Welcome!

What does it mean to embody an erotic presence through the ways in which it has already been read? In dialogue with recent debates about queer temporality (Edelman, Jagose, Freeman and others), this talk will introduce the relay of ‘reading and being read’ that constitutes the future perfect of butch noir. This talk discusses the ‘having already been read-ness’ of Peggy Shaw’s embodiment of butch noir in MUST – the inside story (a live anatomy lesson performed by Peggy Shaw and Clod Ensemble, with back projected slides from the Wellcome medical library). Shaw’s performance of the anxious and playful readings of her body on stage is not so much an exemplar or case study, as it is a collaboration which instantiates the conceptual problem of pinning time down and the theoretical difficulty of finding queer particularity in time’s binding elusiveness. In thinking about the title of this seminar series – ‘queer now and then’ – Jackie Stacey takes Shaw’s troubling of temporality through her queer embodied presence as a way of responding to current debates about time in queer theory.

Jackie Stacey is a Professor of Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts and Languages (CIDRAL). She is the author of Star Gazing: Female Spectators and Hollywood Cinema (1994), Teratologies: A Cultural Study of Cancer (1997), and, most recently, The Cinematic Life of the Gene (2010). She is also an editor of Screen.

New Seminar Series ‘Queer Now and Then': Wednesday 16 October, Susan Lanser, ‘How to Do the Sexuality of History’

Susan Lanser, 'How to Do the Sexuality of History'

On Wednesday 16 October, the ‘Queer Now and Then’ seminar series will begin with ‘How to Do the Sexuality of History’ by Susan Lanser, Professor of English, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at Brandeis University. Her paper will explore the notion of ‘the sexuality of history’, how this is distinct from ‘the history of sexuality’, and the methodological commitments that this shift entails.

(Image Cindy Sherman)

Tuesday 11 June, Dr David Alderson, ‘Is Capitalism Progressive (for Queers)?


Tuesday 11th June, 5pm-7pm

Dr David Alderson (University of Manchester)

Is Capitalism Progressive (for Queers)?

Room A112, Samuel Alexander Building

The University of Manchester  –  All Welcome! 

Dr David Alderson is interested in the relations between neoliberalism, gender and sexuality, and is working on a book that focuses on ‘post-gay culture’. This is not his term, nor is he keen to promote it. He argues that the term has been used in directly contradictory ways: on the one hand, to refer to the possibilities for gay assimilation; and, on the other, to refer to the need to rediscover a politics of sexuality now that ‘gay’ has apparently become the mark of assimilation. He is interested in these positions and the tensions between them, but also in the complex ways they relate to the marketization of sexuality. He writes from a Marxist/cultural materialist perspective, and, in the book he is writing now, is interested in the critical recovery of Marcusean ideas. More generally, he is also interested in the cultural implications of David Harvey’s work, and is developing ideas for a new project on ‘market authoriarianism.’

(Image Steve Lambert 2011)

Tuesday 7 May, Dr Kaye Mitchell, ‘Queer Metamorphoses: Girl Meets Boy and the Futures of Queer Fiction’

girl meets boy

Tuesday 7th May

Dr Kaye Mitchell (The University of Manchester)

Queer Metamorphoses: Girl Meets Boy and the Futures of Queer Fiction

On Tuesday 7th May, Dr Kaye Mitchell discussed the centrality of metamorphosis and transformation in Ali Smith’s novel Girl Meets Boy (2007), which re-imagines Ovid’s myth of Iphis, taken from Metamorphoses. Through her discussion of Girl Meets Boy and its treatment of gender and sexuality, Mitchell positioned metamorphosis as a dynamic that could contribute to queer theory through its emphasis upon transformation, fluidity and flexibility, whilst nonetheless questioning its concurrent investment in continuity and identity.

Dr Kaye Mitchell is a lecturer in contemporary literature at Manchester University. Having published on the relationship between intention and text (see Intention and Text, Continuum, 2008), Kaye Mitchell has focused on the politics of gender and sexuality as they have been related to issues of textual form and questions of meaning and signification, such as in her exploration of A. L. Kennedy’s perverse romances (see A. L. Kennedy, Palgrave, 2007).  Her recent publications include a journal article on the ‘pornography of postmodern life’ in Martin Amis’s novel Money (Textual Practice, 2012), a chapter on pulp sexology for a book entitled The Queer 50s (Palgrave, 2012), a journal article on contemporary women’s sex blogs and erotic memoirs (Psychology and Sexuality, 2012), and a chapter for the Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction, edited by David Glover and Scott McCracken (C.U.P., 2012). She has recently completed an edited collection on the work of Sarah Waters, which will be published by Continuum in 2013. She is currently working on her third monograph, which investigates the turn to shame in literature and theory since the 1990s, and considers the politics, aesthetics and erotics of negative affects such as shame and disgust in a range of  texts and authors including re-published 1950s lesbian pulp titles, and works by A.M. Homes, Mary Gaitskill, A.L. Kennedy, Catherine Millet, Martin Amis, Philip Roth and others.