A 3-Day International Research Symposium to be held at The University of Exeter, UK
September 13-15, 2008.
Queer theory as an academic discourse emerged in the1980s in the Anglo-American world in the wake of post-structuralist currents coming from continental Europe, such as Foucaldian discourse analysis and Derridean deconstruction. It constituted both a reaction against identity-politics-based perspectives, such as feminism and gay and lesbian studies on the one hand, and a development, modification and expansion of them on the other. (Indeed, in some quarters, it is now routinely used as a synonym for them.) Queer historicizes and relativizes the disciplinary assertions (psychological, medical) about the meanings of gender and sexualities. However, as well as issuing from the academy, queer also emerged at grass-roots level as a strategy of contestation in response to homophobic political rhetoric surrounding the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. (The ironic recuperation of the term ’queer’ by Queer Nation, for example, is central to the subverting force that queer discourse carries.) The importance of this link between ’high theory’ and political activism, and the intermeshing of European and American influences in creating queer, are only occasionally acknowledged or interrogated in the numerous existing published studies of queer. All too often, queer is treated at a national level as a national phenomenon, shorn of its crucial global dimension. Theorists are accused of abstraction, and activists of a lack of understanding. And the importance of queer both as an artistic practice and as a hermeneutic tool is often underplayed or ignored. Moreover, just as Moldavia famously exists in the American imagination as a land of unreality and fantasy, so mental maps of Europe are often distorted and incomplete.
The aim of this conference, organized in conjunction with a network bid and a consciousness raising book project, is to address these issues by bringing together scholars and activists from a wide variety of backgrounds to discuss the following broad questions :
1) How are paradigms of same sex love and other dissident sexualities experienced in different national cultures, discourses and political arenas ?
2) How is the body of work known as Queer Theory disseminated and received in Europe, and how do the paradigms identified in (1) affect this ?
3) How do the factors identified in (1) and (2) affect the production and reception of cultural artefacts (literature, film & television, drama and cabaret, the visual arts, popular music etc.) ?
4) How do the factors identified in (1), (2) and (3) impinge on and help to set the agenda for future scholarship and activism in this field ?
What we are hoping for at this stage are expressions of interest from as wide a spectrum of potential participants as possible, including artists and practitioners as well as theorists and activists. It is envisaged that, alongside traditional academic papers, there will be workshops and breakout groups, sessions run by activists and artists, poster sessions and performances, a round table discussion and a publication workshop. A discussion forum will also be in place for those who are unable to attend the conference in person. A volume of conference proceedings, designed to reflect the whole spectrum of activities, will be submitted to Ashgate’s ’Queer Interventions’ series, with anticipated publication in 2009.
Paper titles and short proposals (no more than 200 words) should be addressed to either Lisa Downing
or Robert Gillett firstname.lastname@example.org by May 31 2008.