LGBT Research Community

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Thomas Glave: An Evening of Readings and Conversation

September 27, 2014
by Carla Barrett

Photo credit: Oslo Freedom Forum

Photo credit: Oslo Freedom Forum

Wednesday 15th October 2014 at 6pm

Lecture Theatre B, James Parkes Building, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton

Thomas Glave is a writer of essays, short-fiction and poetry whose books include Whose Song? And Other Stories, Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent, The Torturer’s Wife and Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh. He is also the editor of the ground-breaking anthology Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles.

His short story – The Final Inning¬†– received an O Henry Prize in 1997, while Words to Our Now and Our Caribbean were both recognized with Lambda Literary Awards celebrating excellence in LGBT literature. Glave’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, Callaloo, and in several anthologies. His interests include contemporary Caribbean “Queer” writing, Latin American and post-colonial literature, Black British writers, literatures of testimony and human rights and creative non-fiction. He has been an important voice for LGBT rights in the contemporary Caribbean.

Glave is a professor of English and creative writing at the State University of New York in Binghamton and 2014 Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Hispanic Studies at the University of Warwick. He will be in conversation with Professor Stephen Morton (English) and Dr. Christer Petley (History).

This event is organized by the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies at the University of Southampton.

LGBTQ Lives Research – New PhD Studentship opportunities, University of Brighton

January 28, 2014
by Laurence Georgin

New PhD Studentship opportunities: The University of Brighton is currently inviting prospective doctoral students who are interested in applying for a studentship in the Arts and Humanities with a focus on LGBTQ sexualities and gender research to contact them about the TECHNE partnership.

The LGBTQ Lives Research Hub offers an opportunity to work with scholars specialising in gender and sexualities research across a broad range of subject areas, including:

  • Cultural Geography
  • Media Studies
  • Cultural Studies and Popular Culture
  • Digital economy areas related to gender and sexuality
  • Drama and sexuality
  • Early modern sexuality and gender
  • Literature and Film

Please send a short summary of your proposed project (500 words) and details of your qualifications to LGBTQ@brighton.ac.uk as soon as possible. The Research Hub will contact applicants to help liaise with potential supervisors and guide you in the submission of a formal application. The deadline for formal applications is the 19th February 2014. For further information download the flyer or go to http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/projects/lgbt/news/new-phd-studentship-opportunities

New models of poetry community, Prof Peter Middleton

October 23, 2013
by Laurence Georgin

Poets have always tended to form communities, and since the early twentieth-century this has become the norm. The absence of market value for this art-form means that poets can often only survive through the mutual support of each other as readers, editors and publishers. Between the mid-1940s and the 1970s, two largely independent groups of mostly gay male poets in New York and San Francisco began to develop a poetics based around their experience of community. Their subject matter and their poetic forms were shaped by intense self-questioning about what it meant to be part of a community based around experiences of dissident sexual identity. Read more…

 

New models of poetry community – Prof Peter Middleton

October 23, 2013
by Laurence Georgin

Poets have always tended to form communities, and since the early twentieth-century this has become the norm. The absence of market value for this art-form means that poets can often only survive through the mutual support of each other as readers, editors and publishers. Between the mid-1940s and the 1970s, two largely independent groups of mostly gay male poets in New York and San Francisco began to develop a poetics based around their experience of community. Their subject matter and their poetic forms were shaped by intense self-questioning about what it meant to be part of a community based around experiences of dissident sexual identity.

The two poetry communities came up with quite different poetic strategies.  The West Coast group, nicknamed the San Francisco Renaissance, were relatively open about their sexuality, yet as poets they emulated a secret society based on occult symbols, mystical concepts, and allusions to Arthurian comradeship. The East coast group, nicknamed the New York School, were publically discreet about their homosexuality, while exploring openly in their poems the vicissitudes of the love and friendship that held them together.

Out of these different group dynamics came two different theories of poetry, both of which have proved influential. These poets opened up new possibilities for modern poetry by showing how the relation between poet, poem, and readers could be playfully yet subtly reimagined. The poem could rethink the non-familial connections, memories, affects, and identity-construction that dynamically sustain a coterie of friends. Although the achievements of each individual poetic community and its leading members have been extensively studied, the significance of the contrast between the strategies of the two groups has not been much explored, nor has their legacy for later poetry movements and theories.

Contact for more Information

Name: Prof Peter Middleton

Email: P.Middleton@soton.ac.uk

View Peter’s profile

Be My Lennon: Writing LGBT Bournemouth and The Beatles

September 30, 2013
by Laurence Georgin

James coleOn February 25th 2012, a special reading event was held at Bournemouth Central Library, the culmination and celebration of a three-month writing residency within Bournemouth‚Äôs LGBT community.¬† It was a moving and inspiring evening that saw thirty new writers read out their work to a large audience.¬† The residency was organized by Lit Up!, the literature development agency for Bournemouth and Poole, and funded by the Arts Council and the National Lottery.¬† Part of Lit Up!‚Äôs two-year remit was to deliver two ‚Äėcommunity-based residences‚Äô and the project manager, Amy Mason, says that ‚Äėit seemed like the perfect opportunity to work with Bournemouth‚Äôs thriving LGBT population, who had previously not been engaged with the arts development service‚Äô.¬† My role was as a prose writer assisting the poet in residence, Andrew McMillan, in the facilitation of creative writing workshops based in the heart of the community at The NHS Over The Rainbow charity.

Andrew writes that ‚ÄėWorking on the LGBT residency in Bournemouth and Poole was a transformative experience for me, as a facilitator and as a writer. I’d never considered myself a “gay writer” just someone who was writing and who happened to be gay and so if I wrote an autobiographical love poem, it would be addressed to another man. ¬†My aim with this residency was to go in and not make it a single issue residency, so not to say, we’re going to make you write about being gay, or we’re going to make you write about the one thing that makes you a minority in wider society. Actually what I wanted to do was just write and get them to consider the things which come up in community-space workshops, parental love and loss, politics, identity – I wanted them to feel free to express themselves however they wanted.‚Äô

From the outset, our brief was clear: to capture, in writing, the voice of the groups who identify themselves with, or as part of, an evolving modern LGBT community, whether that be through writing about life stories and identities independent of LGBT themes, as Andrew suggests above, or through writing about being a part of this community.  Our task was to engage with all the different groups that regularly use the Over The Rainbow centre and by the celebration event we had held workshops for mental health, youth, elderly, trans, and women’s groups, amongst others.  The workshops themselves consisted of both group-led or 1:1 writing-focussed exercises and discussions designed to inspire emerging writers.  These exercises explored writing about home and place, about using memories as stimuli for writing identity and selves, about recounting life stories in imaginative ways.  I think it’s fair to say that both Andrew and I, through previous community-centred residencies in the past, had seen the power of writing on many levels: whether as escapism, to create worlds in order to forget about the day to day trials of life, or as a cathartic process, to put down and work through emotions on paper, or, even, writing as celebration, of finding the joy and humour in life, even if that life is surrounded by difficult circumstances.  In whatever ways the workshop participants chose to engage with the exercises we introduced, and even if they left with nothing else from the experience, we wanted them to leave with one feeling: that their voice mattered and was important enough to be put down in writing, a subtle form of empowerment.

It became clear over the course of delivering these workshops and meeting with these groups, however, that the residency should be so much more than capturing a voice.¬† This was no longer about a voice, singular, reading and writing alone, recording their story like a writer locked away in a study.¬† The workshops became a dialogue, a conversation on many textual levels.¬† The writers we worked with entered into conversation with each other, not just those of the same group whom they already knew and felt comfortable with, but with other groups using the charity they might perhaps never have met before.¬† On one occasion, we introduced the youth groups to the elderly groups, for example, who didn‚Äôt know the other existed and were using the same centre but who found, through telling each other their stories, they could learn from each other, initiating a dialogue between past and present aspects of the LGBT community.¬† On other levels, the writers began conversing, through writing, with past selves, exploring and communicating with their memories in order to address their lives and identities in the present.¬† During February‚Äôs celebration event, representatives from each of the groups we worked with took turns in sharing their own work or, if they didn‚Äôt feel confident with public reading, could have their work displayed for others to read at their leisure.¬† And afterwards the buzz and excitement of having shared these stories was fantastic to watch.¬†¬† Andrew writes that he was surprised by how many of the participants wanted to write about LGBT themes.¬† He says that ‚ÄėWe tend, I think, as people, to identify with whatever it is we feel makes us a minority in relation to our peers – writing can be a great outlet for this identification but it can also be a way of turning ourselves outwards, of looking at other experiences and other ideas, working through a cross-section of ages, backgrounds and identities‚Äô.¬† What emerged during the reading celebration was not a single story told many times over but, rather, differing patterns of experience, not a singular experience of LGBT life but experiences, plural.¬† And this, I believe, is a central aspect of an evolving LGBT community.¬† In order to continue evolving, growing, thriving, the community needs to recognise and listen to the voices of the individuals, to see that everybody has their own story to tell.¬† To learn from the stories, we need to listen to them.¬† The diverse range of individuals we met came from all walks of life and had their own reasons for attending the workshops.¬† Many had never written before but all of them were open to the workshops and the writing techniques we explored.¬† What Andrew and I were able to do, I hope, was provide these individuals with the tools to represent themselves, to find their own expressions of voice through writing.

The fact that there is funding out there for these types of projects is telling.  It is sending the message that the LGBT community is an important part of other local and national communities.  The legacy of the residency is, I believe, a positive one.  Over the course of the three months, five hundred individuals engaged with the residency and since its culmination, Andrew and I have been asked back to lead further workshops within the community.  Writing groups regularly meet and share their work, telling their stories.  Even though directly based on Bournemouth’s gay cultural centre, the Triangle, the library admitted that they hadn’t been involved in any of the LGBT community projects and that it was an area of their outreach that had, somehow, been missed but has since hosted local LGBT writer’s evenings, portrait exhibitions and stories celebrating Trans Awareness Week, and will also be involved with this year’s Pride Festival.

Another aspect of my role was in the writing of a short story, Be Me Lennon, based upon my time at the residency.¬† Its commission brief was fairly open, as long as the story featured Bournemouth and tackled an aspect of LGBT life.¬† Be My Lennon was partly inspired by an exhibition that had been on at the library a month before the residency began, charting Bournemouth‚Äôs unique relationship with The Beatles.¬† It was a series of wonderful photographs collated for Nick Churchill‚Äôs book, Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Beatles and Bournemouth.¬† From this book and exhibition I learned about a fascinating aspect of Bournemouth‚Äôs cultural and musical heritage.¬† Bournemouth can claim that The Beatles performed more shows there than any other city, outside of London.¬† They performed at the Gaumont theatre and in the Winter Gardens, televised for an American audience and the catalyst for their rise to global fame.¬†¬† John Lennon bought his Aunt Mimi a home in nearby Sandbanks.¬† Two of their album covers were photographed in Bournemouth.¬† All these facts highlighted Bournemouth‚Äôs long-standing relationship with one of the biggest musical acts of all time, something I wanted to explore in my story.¬† In staging the first part of my story in this period of Bournemouth‚Äôs past, I also wanted to comment on Bournemouth‚Äôs present and so my story follows episodes in the life of a character, Bob, from the sixties to the present day, mirroring some of the conversations that took place between the youth and elderly groups when they met.¬† I also wanted to explore aspects of ‚Äėthe unspoken‚Äô, silences, as often the things that are not said are more powerful and telling than the things that are.

James Cole

A recording of Be My Lennon can be found at www.soundcloud.com/jamesolivercole

You can find out more about me and my writing at www.jamesolivercole.co.uk

Queer Now and Then seminar series, University of Manchester

September 19, 2013
by Laurence Georgin

The Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Culture (CSSC), The University of Manchester

Public Events 2013-4 – All Welcome

Organised by Professor Laura Doan, this set of events welcomes a number of scholars to explore queerness in relation to time and history.

Wednesday 16 October, 5pm (Venue TBC) (co-sponsored with EAC) Susan Lanser, Brandeis University ‘How to Do the Sexuality of History’

Tuesday 19 November, 5pm (Venue TBC)

Jackie Stacey, University of Manchester (EAC) ‘Embodying Queer Temporalities: The Future Perfect of Peggy Shaw’s Butch Noir’

Tuesday 10 December, 5pm (Venue TBC)

Hal Gladfelder, David Matthews and Kaye Mitchell, University of Manchester (EAC) ‘Porn Now and Then: A ROUNDTABLE’

Further details on the scheduled events, including confirmed venues, will be released in the near future: see http://queerculturenetwork.wordpress.com/ and http://sexualitysummerschool.wordpress.com/

Women travellers exploring gender in the Canadian North at the beginning of the 20th century

August 12, 2013
by Laurence Georgin

LLAS-Team-12Laurence Georgin’s¬†PhD research looks at British women who travelled to the Canadian North at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly women who travelled on their own or with a female companion. Very much like their male counterparts had done for centuries, these women travelled to Canada in order¬†to discover new territories and explore unfamiliar places.

Read more about Laurence Georgin’s reasearch

Women travellers exploring gender in the Canadian North at the beginning of the 20th century

August 6, 2013
by Laurence Georgin

This PhD research looks at British women who travelled to the Canadian North at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly women who travelled on their own or with a female companion. Very much like their male counterparts had done for centuries, these women travelled to Canada in order to discover new territories and explore unfamiliar places. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Victorian influence was still very present and the world was divided into distinct gender categories. The public sphere was reserved to men while women were destined for the home.

This research suggests that these women craved for something more than what their gender could bring and headed towards the Canadian North in the hope that it would liberate them from the weight and constrains of the female gender, even for a short amount of time. Until now, women who travelled to the Canadian North have been studied within a feminist perspective. This research also aims to revisit their motivations and achievements in the light of, and expanding on, Judith Butler’s concept of gender performativity. In opposition to a feminist definition of woman as a closed category, this new approach hopes to demonstrate that it may be more appropriate to use Butler’s open and fluid gender definition to study these women, who moved away from rigid and constricted environments to discover themselves, and not to enclose them again in a static definition, which they strove to escape.

Contact for more information

Name: Ms Laurence Georgin

E-mail: L.I.Georgin@soton.ac.uk

View Laurence’s profile