April 23, 2018
by Lewis Brennen
This Wednesday, 25 April, from 12-1pm, there will be an exciting poster display session in the South Corridor of Avenue Campus, celebrating the fantastic work of students on Dr Fiona Woollard’s ‘Philosophy of Sex’ module. This is part of their assessment for the module, which requires them to critically assess key arguments and ideas in an original and eye catching manner. Every year the students display great creativity and wit and this year looks to be no exception!
Please do drop by during the poster display session. The students will be waiting by their posters to explain their ideas to you. There will also be cake available.
The posters will be on display in the South Corridor until Monday 30 April, so if you cannot make the poster session then do go have a look later this week.
April 16, 2018
by Lewis Brennen
On the evening of Thursday 15 February, Professor Alison Oram (Leeds Beckett University) visited Avenue Campus to deliver the annual Stonewall Lecture. This was the seventh Southampton Stonewall Lecture, organised by Professor Mark Cornwall, an annual event dedicated to exploring the rich heritage that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) history, in order to educate the present about the past and to promote social justice and inclusivity.
Alison’s talk was titled ‘Queer Beyond London: Culture and Place in English Cities, 1970s-1990s’ and drew on research from her and Matt Cook’s current AHRC funded research project, ‘Queer Beyond London’. The project explores LGBTQ life in four provincial cities (Manchester, Brighton, Leeds and Plymouth) to challenge the usual London-centric history of queer life. The lecture last Thursday focused on three of those cities—Brighton, Leeds, and Plymouth—exploring why queer people moved to and from those cities, how they made their homes there, how this reflected the queer culture and communities more widely in those places, and how distinct trajectories of queer life and history developed. Alison’s approach here thus drew on a number of approaches, from oral history, to sociology, and urban geography. In doing so, it complimented the 2013 Stonewall Lecture given by George Chauncey on ‘Gay New York’.
Alison revealed the importance of communal living and collective households for queer residents of 1990s Brighton and the potential political radicalism that living in small flats and bedsits could encourage, but also some gender divisions within the queer community and a darker underside of Brighton with homophobia and a dangerous drugs scene. We saw that queer Leeds was a thriving centre of lesbian feminism, but with racial divisions that meant it was not always comfortable for queer people of colour. Moving onto Plymouth, Alison showed how queer culture there reflected the city’s close ties to the military, which encouraged a culture of relative toleration in the city as early as the 1960s. That said, it appears that while many queer residents of Plymouth were not exactly in the closet, they were not quite out and proud either; audience discussion during the following drinks reception reflected on how Plymouth reminded them of 1990s American ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ culture.
This was a fascinating lecture and it now seems inevitable that Alison’s work on the ‘Queer Beyond London’ project will serve as a much-welcomed corrective to London-centric modern queer history. Thank you very much to everyone involved in organising the lecture and, of course, to Alison for joining us in Southampton for this fascinating talk.
January 24, 2018
by Lewis Brennen
The 2018 Southampton Stonewall Lecture will take place on Thursday 15th February at 6.00pm at Avenue Campus, University of Southampton. The event is free to attend but you must register beforehand. For more information and to register please click here.
This year’s lecture will be given by Professor Alison Oram (Leeds Beckett University), who will be speaking about:
‘Queer beyond London: Culture and Place in English Cities since the 1960s’
How does a sense of place shape ideas of queer identity, politics and community? This lecture draws on the findings of the AHRC-funded “Queer Beyond London” research project which explores LGBTQ life in four provincial cities since 1965 (Manchester, Brighton, Leeds and Plymouth). It challenges the London-centric history of queer life, activism and cultures, showing that while the four cities share similar responses to national milestones, they have had different trajectories in terms of LGBTQ activism and community-building. For over half a century urban queer identities have been tied into distinct migration patterns, place-specific types of home-making, and new sexual politics.
Alison Oram is Professor of Social and Cultural History at Leeds Beckett University. Her research focuses on lesbian and queer histories in 20th century Britain and on how these are represented in heritage. She led the “Pride of Place: England’s LGBTQ Heritage” project for Historic England in 2015-16, and is co-investigator on “Queer Beyond London” with Professor Matt Cook.
Her books include: “Her Husband was a Woman!” Women’s Gender-Crossing and Modern British Popular Culture (2007) and The Lesbian History Source Book: Love and Sex Between Women in Britain 1780-1970 (2001: co-authored with Annmarie Turnbull).
The annual ‘Southampton Stonewall Lecture’ explores the rich heritage that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) history, in order to educate the present about the past and to promote social justice and inclusivity. Previous speakers have included Professors George Chaucey, Laura Doan, and Dagmar Herzog.
Each lecture offers an academic approach to a historical subject, revealing to a broad public audience some of the best recent research on the gay and lesbian past. The lecture builds on fruitful cooperation between the Stonewall charity and the University of Southampton in terms of our shared values and educational engagement with the wider community. Through a greater understanding of discrimination and tolerance through the centuries, we can help to promote tolerance and inclusivity in contemporary British society.
The lecture will be followed by a charity collection for Stonewall.
September 6, 2017
by Lewis Brennen
A really interesting conference, titled ‘Publishing Queer / Queer Publishing’, is to to be held on 16th March 2018 at Senate House, University of London. Details of the CFP can be seen here:
The conference forms part of the ‘Queer Between the Covers: Literature, Queerness, and the Library’ exhibition and events season at Senate House Library, which will run from January – June 2018. More details of the full season will be available soon.
April 20, 2017
by Lewis Brennen
Planning Ahead: LGBT Issues at the End of Life
The University’s Law School and Pulse LGBT+ Staff Network are pleased to invite you to a roundtable discussion on LGBT issues at the end of life taking place on Wednesday 26 April from 12:00 – 14:00, Room 1007, Building 67, Highfield Campus.
As the UK population ages, the availability and delivery of effective palliative care is becoming more important than ever, but what challenges do LGBT people face in accessing appropriate palliative care, and what are the legal and moral duties of healthcare providers to ensure that all patients at the end of life are able to die with autonomy and dignity?
Following the release of Compassion in Dying’s booklet supporting LGBT people to plan ahead to ensure they receive care that’s right for them, and a revealing new study by Marie Curie, this informal lunchtime discussion will explore the unique experiences of the ageing LGBT community, the law on end-of-life care, and the social and legal issues that these needs present.
This lunchtime conversation will open with a short presentation from Professor Hazel Biggs, Katie Hunt and Matthew Watkins (Southampton Law School), followed by a roundtable discussion in which there will be an exchange of questions, answers and concerns. Resources for understanding LGBT needs in healthcare contexts and facilitating end-of-life conversations will be available.
Attendees should bring a lunch with them, but tea, coffee and cake will be provided. The organisers look forward to seeing you on the day!
For more information, including how to book your ticket, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/planning-ahead-lgbt-issues-at-the-end-of-life-tickets-33851015298. If you have any queries, please contact Professor Hazel Biggs: H.Biggs@southampton.ac.uk.
April 20, 2017
by Lewis Brennen
Marxism in Culture Seminar
Friday, 28 April 2017
Wolfson Room, Institute of Historical Research
Senate House, University of London
Nat Raha (University of Sussex)
Queering Marxist [Trans]Feminism: Queer and Trans Social Reproduction
Despite the recent resurgence of social reproduction theory and Marxist feminist political praxis, the social reproduction of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) lives remains under-theorised. While heterosexuality as a form of work has long since been considered as part of Marxist feminism’s analysis, the consideration of queer sexualities, and the reproduction of life and labour-power outside and beyond of the cis-, heteronormative nuclear family, have been sidelined in the canon of Marxist Feminism. Bridging the theoretical work of queer Marxism, Black feminism and trans studies, and the political praxis of LGBTQ groups Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries and Wages Due Lesbians, this paper will address the expanded definition of social reproduction necessary to understand the social reproduction of LGBTQ lives.
The paper will argue that the forms of caring labour that enable LGBTQ lives take place in spaces beyond the domestic sphere and within familial forms that exceed the nuclear family; and moreover that such labour includes the reproduction of genders, desires and bodies anchored in non-normativity – work that is often naturalised and not considered as labour. Furthermore, the continued failure of the capitalist socius to support the lives of poor trans women and trans femmes of colour and/or sex workers raises questions of how the politics of queer and trans liberalism(s) devalue and compound the conditions of queer and trans social reproduction under a racialised and gendered division of labour.
Nat Raha is a poet and trans / queer activist, living in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Sussex, working on a thesis titled ‘Queer Capital: Marxism in queer theory and post-1950 poetics’. Her poetry includes two collections: countersonnets (Contraband Books, 2013), and Octet (Veer Books, 2010); and numerous pamphlets including ‘£/€xtinctions’ (Sociopathetic Distro, 2017), ‘[of sirens / body & faultlines]’ (Veer Books, 2015), and ‘mute exterior intimate’ (Oystercatcher Press, 2013). She’s performed and published her work internationally. Nat currently works as a Research Support Assistant for ‘Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures’ at the Edinburgh College of Art; and her essay ‘Transfeminine Brokenness, Radical Transfeminism’ is due for publication in the South Atlantic Quarterly this spring.
Free and open to all
If you have any queries please contact Chrysi Papaioannou (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Some earlier seminars are now available as Podcasts.
MIC Seminar organisers: Matthew Beaumont, Dave Beech, Alan Bradshaw, Warren Carter, Luisa Lorenza Corna, Gail Day, Steve Edwards, Larne Abse Gogarty, Esther Leslie, David Mabb, Antigoni Memou, Chrysi Papaioannou, Nina Power, Dominic Rahtz, Pete Smith, Peter Thomas, Alberto Toscano & Marina Vishmidt.
February 28, 2017
by Lewis Brennen
On Thursday 9th February Professor Dagmar Herzog came to the University of Southampton to give the 6th Southampton Stonewall Lecture. The lecture, entitled ‘Love and Perversion – The Modern History of Homophobia’ was part of a series at the University of Southampton focused on communicating the latest LGBT history research to a wider public audience.
Professor Herzog is a distinguished professor of history and the Daniel Rose Faculty scholar at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her work on the histories of sexuality, gender, religion, Jewish-Christian relations and the Holocaust informed her fascinating lecture.
We interviewed Professor Herzog before the lecture to find out more about her career and what led to her interest in the history of sexuality in the twentieth century.
What are the key ideas you want to put across to the audience today?
The story I want to tell in my Stonewall lecture has to do with the overwhelming power of homophobia in the post-World War II United States. This is the world of the cold war and an anti-communist climate in which the psychiatrists and psychoanalysts were enormously influential in giving legitimacy to ugly hostility towards homosexuality. The story I want to tell has to do with how incoherent and absurd these ideas were, and yet how powerful they were and how much damage they did, but also how the same ideas were refuted and dismantled and how ultimately brilliance and generosity triumphed over cruel silliness.
So that’s the arc of the story – the rise of the homophobic consensus and its destruction, but I’d also like to introduce a very important character, Robert Stoller, who was crucial in the 1970s in using psychoanalysis to rebut homophobic ideas. I want to give an example of how one can have a queer eye for heterosexuality, because ultimately that was the strategy Stoller used in order to dismantle homophobia and to make it look ridiculous. I also want to communicate how closely linked gay rights and women’s rights are. I’m interested in how the content of homophobia changes: the excuses people make for why they have to be prejudiced change over time, which shows you that it’s really about maintaining power.
In your latest book (Cold War Freud) you write about the ‘durability of homophobia’. Why has homophobia been so enduring in the modern age?
It’s a great question. It would be nice not to have to ask it anymore!
Many thoughtful people have given different answers over time.
One possible answer is the one Freud himself gave in Civilisation and its Discontents, which is that heterosexuality doesn’t always make people as happy as they want to be – something in the nature of sex and intimate relationships is always somewhat disappointing at some times. Not everyone feels totally comfortable inhabiting their gender. There is something special about sex that makes it very easy to manipulate people politically around it, so it makes people vulnerable in their intimate relationships and in their relationships with themselves that’s intense for people. It takes effort to be sovereign and generous towards difference and not fall into getting excited about curbing other people’s freedoms.
You started as a historian of religion in 19th century Germany. How did your interest in the history of sexuality begin and develop? Do you see yourself mainly as a historian of sexuality or even LGBT history?
It’s true that I started writing on the rise of a religious right in the 1840s and what was interesting to me was – writing during the years of the rise of Ronald Reagan in the US, Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Helmut Kohl in Germany – that I noticed that liberals were very disconcerted by the rise of a sexually conservative religious Right that they hadn’t expected and didn’t know how to respond to.
I was interested that the religious disputes and fights about Christian-Jewish relations that I was analysing in the 1840s were actually carried out via a lot of sexual innuendo – so it was the sources that led me to the topic. I was interested in the fact that this religious Right used sexual innuendo to make fun of liberals and disconcert them, and it had a variety of consequences for how liberal Christians understood Jewish rights.
I was interested in this nexus of Christianity and the difficulties it has with Judaism, seeing this endless rivalry, always frustrated that the Jews don’t come over to the Christian side and I was interested in the conflicted feeling around sexuality – themes that have stayed with me all along, but which came out of the sources.
Subsequently I met a lovely man named Theodore Weiss, an Auschwitz survivor, who approached me at a conference in 1993 and said he wanted me to teach history of the Holocaust at Michigan State University and I said ‘but I write on the nineteenth century’ and he retorted ‘I’ve researched you – you can do this.’ (I am confident that he has said this to dozens of scholars over the years! He has been extraordinarily successful in mobilizing the field.) And indeed, with his help, it turned out he was right. Thanks to him, I become a twentieth-century historian. I then became very involved in Holocaust education and to this day I’m very active in the work of the Holocaust Educational Foundation and just taught a week-long course at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
I ended up writing my second book on the stages of memory-making in the aftermath of the Holocaust and what lessons people drew from that cataclysm and astonishingly – I did not go looking for it – the sources were filled with sexuality.
Strikingly, Christian conservatives in the immediate aftermath of the Third Reich argued that the way to get over this horrible past of mass murder was to clean up and restore family values and to clean up the culture sexually. Then a generation of their children – many of them members of the New Left – said that no, we needed to liberate sexuality in order to avoid another Auschwitz. They thought the Third Reich had been totally sexually repressive even though that wasn’t true. In truth, the Third Reich had combined incitement to heterosexual activity with lethal homophobia with brutality towards Jews and Roma and many other peoples, so actually there had been a combination of taboo- breaking both in the realm of sexuality and in the realm of violence.
Because the Third Reich itself was complicated, it was easy to draw contradictory lessons from it, but a lot of the intergenerational conflicts after 1945 were played out in the realm of sexuality. So that’s where my long standing obsessions with ‘what is the emotional appeal of right wing politics and fascism’, ‘how do homo- and heterosexuality belong together and how differently in each time period’ and ‘why is it that fights about nonsexual matters get carried out in the realm of sex and vice versa’ – those things all come from these research experiences. It’s not me – it’s the sources!
I look at these things and think “6 million people have just been murdered and you’re talking about cleaning up family values? It’s offensive! This cannot be what you’re talking about.” But indeed it was.
One of your major works is Sexuality after Fascism (2005) about 20th century Germany. How has this changed the way we think about the history of sexuality/ homosexuality in Europe?
One of the questions I always ask myself is how can you tell a fascism when you see it? For the 1920s, 30s and 40s whether you’re looking at Italy or Spain or Nazi Germany or Vichy France there’s hostility to homosexuality – predominantly male homosexuality – for some reason that’s more upsetting than lesbianism to the powers-that-be. There’s always also control of abortion rights, which is a way of controlling female sexuality. It’s different in each of the different fascisms but you can always see that double phenomenon.
Thinking now about right-wing movements in the United States in the post-war period, again you have anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality. Think about Western Europe now: for a while Western Europe was presenting itself as very progressive about sexuality, female sexuality and LGBT rights, trying to tell post-communist Eastern Europe that it needed to get with that liberal programme. Now we have massive movements also within Western Europe arguing that they don’t want to have “gender theory,” that they don’t want to have (what they call) “premature sexualisation of children” (via sex education) in classrooms; there is a move against gay marriage and there is a move against abortion rights again. It’s strange and upsetting to me that these are the facts, but thinking about the premier example of fascism helped me see this phenomenon is everywhere.
Another truth about the Nazis is that they were very much encouraging of sexual pleasure: they really incited sexual pleasure for non-disabled, heterosexual “Aryans”, who were the majority of the population. There’s this huge encouragement to pleasure on the one hand – pre-marital, extra-marital, marital – everything, and that’s the flipside of the coin of a lethal homophobia. The intensified prosecution of homosexual men, putting them in concentration camps, castration, conversion attempts, this grotesque behaviour is the flipside of all that encouragement.
So one other trait of many right-wing movements is that they also promise pleasure, that they are not just repressive across the board. One can look at Evangelical Protestantism of a certain conservative bent in the United States and see that it’s actually encouraging of fabulous marital sex, as long as one supports the anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion agenda. There’s always this idea that ‘we will offer you something better’. Right wing movements don’t just market repression, they market the promise that some group of people will get to feel superior and get to break the rules and have more fun.
You are a very active researcher and writer! What are your plans for future research?
The project I’m working on now has to do with the history of disability. I come to it both from history of religion, history of the Holocaust and from history of sexuality, because before the mass murder of European Jewry there was mass murder of the disabled.
In no other nation, in no other time and place has this happened that a nation killed its own disabled en masse. It was the “trial run” for the Holocaust. You can think of it as the prologue or the first chapter, but literally the same hundred individuals that got their practice and their training committing the mass murder of the disabled are the ones who go to Poland and start the Operation Reinhardt camps of Sobibór, Bełżec and Treblinka. Those camps used the same technology: killing by carbon monoxide. This was before they discovered Zyklon B in Auschwitz. A quarter of the Holocaust is done by carbon monoxide and is modelled on the earlier killing of the disabled. It’s obviously the same attitude of “lives unworthy of life.”
One of my major missions in Holocaust studies is to integrate the murder of the disabled more strongly into the history of the Holocaust, because it’s also a precursor in terms of emotionally preparing people for mass murder, both bystanders and the actual perpetrators.
I became very interested in how difficult it was to develop a disability rights movement in the aftermath of the slaughter – people were crushed. There was shame that was attached to the families of people who’d been killed and there was strong popular identification with the doctors who were the perpetrators. It is deeply upsetting, that in many ways hostility to the disabled was made stronger by the mass murders. It took almost four decades to really get a feisty counter-movement going.
It took a lot of effort for the mass murder of Jews to become recognised as something that we now think of as one of the defining events of the twentieth century. That took effort against a lot of disinterest in centring that event. However this issue- the mass murder of the disabled – has taken even longer to become central to our discussions because of the persistence of hostility to the disabled.
I’m really interested in talking about the disability rights movement that emerges finally and how it eventually does learn how to find ways to set terms of discussion politically and culturally, but just as that’s happening – we’re in the twenty-first century – disability rights are getting turned against women’s rights to abortion. It’s the new wedge-issue for anti-abortion campaigners. They figured out a clever way to put leftists and feminists on the back foot by arguing that it’s awful to abort on the grounds of disability. They’re using the idea that abortion is being used “eugenically” in order to make people feel guilty and confused. What has happened is a lot of disability rights activists also oppose abortion on the grounds of disability and so there’s a confusion of categories between Left and Right.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make an argument that says : this has to be a woman’s or a couple’s choice to take this on. It’s very difficult in every country in Europe at the moment – in 2009 in Germany, the parliamentary inquiry in the UK into abortion and disability in 2013, Spain in 2014, Hungary in 2012, Poland in 2016 – it shows you that it’s strategic. For many people it is sincere and deeply felt, but clearly it is also a moral wedge that divides people.
You may wonder what this has to do with LGBT, but one of the things I’m very interested in is that it’s actually LGBT activism that has provided the framework for disability rights, in at least 3 ways: the challenge to normative bodies; the challenge to what counts as a family form – disability “queers” families and calls attention to how interdependent we all are and brings into view the complexities for relationships that are needed for lives to flourish and be joyful; and LGBT’s insistence that pleasure and relationality are human rights has been a very important precursor to disability rights arguments as well. So I’m really interested in “queering” disability and showing what close links there are between those two movements.
February 20, 2017
by Lewis Brennen
Join us in celebrating LGBT History Month 2017 with a free event on the subject of Trans Identities on Screen: Local and Global Perspectives, to be held on Thursday 23rd February at 6pm in Avenue 65/1133 (LTA).
The event will include a screening of Tchindas (Cape Verde, 2016) and THEY (UK, 2016), followed by a Q&A on queer and trans representation in film, with local artist and maker of THEY, Asten Holmes-Elliott, and Helen Wright, director of the Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF). Wine and snacks will be provided.
All are very welcome! Please do share with anyone you think may be interested, including UG/PG students.
This event is kindly sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages, the Pulse LGBT+ Staff Network, and the AHRC-funded project Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary UK Film Culture.
With best wishes,
Eleanor K. Jones and Sophie Holmes-Elliott (Modern Languages)
February 4, 2017
by Lewis Brennen
The Modern History Research Centre at the University of Winchester in partnership with Winchester Discovery Centre are happy to welcome you to the LGBT+ History Exhibition, which is on display at the Discovery Centre’s Wall Space until the 28th February 2017. This exhibition highlights current investigations taken by early-career researchers from different universities around the country. The panels explore historical perspectives, experiences and events of LGBT+ communities in modern history across different countries.
Please also join us for two free events on Friday 10th February at the Discovery Centre:
6:30-7:30pm, Discovery Centre’s Wall Space – LGBT+ History Exhibition: Discussion with exhibitors.
7:30-8:30pm, Discovery Centre’s Lecture Theatre – Public Lecture: Dr Emma Vickers (Liverpool John Moores University, author of Queen and Country: Same-sex desire in the British Armed Forces, 1939-1945) – ‘Sanctuary or sissy? Male cross-dressing as entertainment in the British Armed Forces, 1939-1945’: Following the end of the Second World War, revues like Pacific Showboat, Soldiers in Skirts, Forces Showboat, Misleading Ladies and Ralph Reader’s Gang Show capitalised on the appetite of audiences for ex-servicemen in drag. This lecture will consider how the populace of post-war Britain acquired their affection for ex-servicemen in drag through an examination of men in the British Armed Forces who informally cross dressed to entertain their colleagues during the Second World War. It will focus in particular on how these performances were understood by those who viewed them.
January 30, 2017
by Lewis Brennen
Congratulations to Dr David Bretherton (Music), who has been awarded £175,236.80 from the AHRC Leadership Fellowship Scheme (Early Career Route) towards his research project ‘Queer Music, Queer Theory, Queer Music Theory’.
The Fellowship will allow David to take a lead in re-energising the debate about the nature of ‘queer music’, and to play a decisive role in the re-conceptualisation of the problematic notion of queer music from a music-theoretical and -analytical perspective. Focusing on selected works from the last two centuries, by composers such as Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Copland, Britten and Finnissy, this research will explore the emergence of queer musicology and critique earlier research. It will then interrogate the concept of queer music through several music-analytical case studies organised around core ideas from the discipline of queer theory.
The notion that modern Western society is dominated by a ‘heteronormative’ discourse favouring heterosexual relationships and ‘normal’ gender behaviours will be particularly important, because its analogue, musical convention, when subverted is often dubiously interpreted as autobiographical evidence of a composer’s queerness. This project seeks more nuanced and thoughtful alternatives, and will align queer musicology with other approaches in the Humanities.