Call for Papers: Present your research at the GSRN’s Seminar Series 2017/18!

The Gender and Sexuality Research Network is now accepting abstracts for our seminar series taking place in the upcoming academic year (2017-2018).

We are an interdisciplinary research group based at the University of Reading which provide a supportive and collaborative space for those whose work or interests include aspects of gender, sex, sexuality and the body to share ideas and stimulate discussion across disciplines. We are keen to hear from as wide a variety of perspectives as possible, welcoming the submission of abstracts from all disciplines. As it is our aim to offer an inclusive platform covering the full spectrum of gender and sexuality beyond traditional binary constructions, we encourage the submission of abstracts addressing, amongst others, issues of femininity and feminism, LGBT+ rights, as well work conducted from masculine and non-binary perspectives.

Our regular seminar series will start the first week of October and is provisionally planned to take place during term time on Mondays from 4-5pm at the University of Reading. The format will be a one-hour session with space for a twenty-minute paper followed by a Q & A. We offer a supportive environment where researchers can present works in progress or finished pieces. If you would like to take part, please contact us at and include your 100-word abstract and title, name, department and preferred seminar date in the email by the end of 11th August 2017.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Faye and Gareth

Twitter: @ReadingGender

A welcome from the new network organisers

GSRN double mugshot faye and gareth


It gives me great pleasure to introduce myself and Faye bird as the next organisers of the Gender and Sexuality Research Network. I discovered the Research Network late in 2016 after Sophie and Maria had been running things for three years and encountered a community of dedicated graduates and lecturers who had clearly established something special. We’re all in their debt for founding this fantastic network.

We will be carrying on the seminar series, starting Autumn Term 2017, so check your inboxes for our announcement this week! Last year, alongside a complement of high quality presentations that demonstrated research from a feminine perspective, such as ‘Women’s Employment in Saudi Arabia’ (Mona Almunaiey), papers such as Jacob Bird’s ‘Deconstruction of the Voice in Drag Lip Sync’ bought non-binary and masculine perspectives to the series, something we are keen to continue.

Expect continued notifications of events on social media, and get in touch with us on Twitter @ReadingGender

We look forward to taking part in another year of important work in Gender Studies.

Gareth & Faye

Goodbye and thank you for all your support!

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 21.30.00
Celebrating the success of the network at our very last meeting of 2016/7


Sophie and I (Maria) are pleased to announce that Faye Bird and Gareth Mills will be taking over the running of the Gender and Sexuality Research Network in the upcoming academic year. We are confident that we are leaving the network in safe hands!

We founded the network back in late 2014. We have gone from one meeting per month with local Reading students to weekly meetings with speakers from all over the UK! We have really enjoyed running the network and watching it grow.

We would like to thank everyone for their support! We could not have made the network what it is today without our attendees and fantastic speakers.

Here’s to another successful year of the Gender and Sexuality Research Network!

Signing off from the blog for the very last time,

Next meeting: ‘Experience of Time and Subjectivity in Motherhood Writing’, Monday 20th March, 4pm, HumSS280

Hello everyone

We warmly invite you to join us for our very last talk of this academic year. The talk will be given by Mariana Howell from English department the University of Southampton. Her title is ‘Experience of Time and Subjectivity in Motherhood Writing’ and she’ll be speaking at the usual time of 4pm, in HumSS280 on Monday 20th March. Here is her abstract:

What happens to a woman during pregnancy, post-partum and early motherhood? How is her perception and experience of time, space, and self/other altered during the process? The maternal experience, loaded with power, terror, ambivalence, joy, confusion, and pleasure, has long been ignored by the psychoanalytic tradition. My work will look at how ‘maternal memoirs’ narrate the writer’s mothering journey. Their work contests the dominant cultural expectations of motherhood and attempts to construct a maternal dialogue that emphasises compassion, rather than guilt. I will use psychoanalytic theory to discover new analyses of maternal subjectivity and psychical experience to show that the mothering experience has a profound effect on women’s lives.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday, for what will be the last session of the network run by Sophie and myself (Maria) before we hand it over. It’s been a real pleasure watching the Gender and Sexuality Research Network grow over the past few years…

Meeting Report – “Facing the Hardships”: Mixed Race Relationships and Women’s Magazines in 1950s Britain, by Anna Maguire

Thank you again to Anna Maguire for sharing her new research project with us. Anna has just finished her PhD and is exploring postdoc opportunities. Providing us with extracts from agony aunt pages in Women’s Own and Woman Magazine, she discussed how mixed race couples were perceived in Britain in the 1950s. In 1948 the Empire Windrush docked in London carrying men from Jamaica and marked the first of many recruits from the commonwealth. She explained that in this context of immigration to Britain from its overseas territories, mixed race relationships challenged colonial and racial boundaries.

Usually, the letters in the agony aunt pages were from white women in relationships with black men on subjects such as a girl’s parents not allowing her black boyfriend into the house. Mothers would also write in to question their own attitude to their daughters mixed race relationship. One mother stated that she is happy for her daughter to date her partner, yet she draws the line at marriage. The theme of parental control is a recurring feature both within the context of mixed race relationsips and others – women under 21 were not allowed to marry without their parents’ consent! Differences in religion and class were also raised as a concern.

One interesting example of the time which Anna provided was a letter sent by a white girl who wanted to marry a black widower who was many years her senior. She was unsure how or whether to tell her parents. The agony aunt, rather than challenging why anyone should disapprove of such a relationship, instead confirms the girl’s fears. She advises the girl to wait until she is older since her relationship may just be a crush. The agony aunt underlines that the relationship must be strong enough to survive the social pressure and that mixed marriage is a great risk.

We wish Anna the very best of luck with her project – we look forward to hearing how her research on this interesting topic develops!

We will see you next week for our very last seminar of the academic year 2016/2017. Sophie and I (Maria) will be handing over the running of the network very soon. We’d love to see as many of you as possible for our last seminar in charge, we’ll really miss running the network. The paper is by Mariana Howell, in the English Literature department at Southampton. The title is ‘Experience of Time and Subjectivity in Modtherhood Writing’. We hope to see you there!




Next Meeting: ‘“Facing the Hardships”: Mixed Race Relationships and Women’s Magazines in 1950s Britain’, 13th March, 4pm, HumSS280

Hello everyone!

We look forward to welcoming you to our network on Monday 13th March at 4pm in HumSS 280 for a talk by Anna Maguire from the history department at King’s College London.

The title of Anna’s talk is ‘“Facing the Hardships”: Mixed Race Relationships and Women’s Magazines in 1950s Britain’

Here is her abstract for what promising to be a fascinating 20 minute talk…

The arrival of the Empire Windrushin 1948 was a symbolic turning point as the British Nationality Act saw the ‘Empire come home.’ At the centre of debates about new ‘race relations’ were mixed race relationships, challenging racial, colonial and gender boundaries. This paper examines discussion of mixed race relationships in British women’s magazines in the 1950’s, particularly in Agony Aunt pages, to examine how women represented their experiences and how responses were framed. This paper is part of a new research project that investigates the representation of mixed race relationships in cultural productions and maps the connection between discourse and experience for those in these relationships.



‘The Medieval Woman in the Western World’ – meeting report

We’d like to say thank you to Marco Prost for his talk on the medieval woman and the western world. It took us on a journey of 12th century adventure – battles, romance, jealousy, adultery and death! What was particularly striking were the parallels that Marco drew between tropes in contemporary romance stories and the lyric poetry of the Troubadours who portrayed courtly love in the 12th century. Marco quoted a poem by  Bernart de Ventadorn (Tant ai mo cor ple de joya) and handed us an extract from André le Chapelain so-called Art of Courtly Love (De Amore). In the latter, le Chapelain examines a variety of 12th century stories about courtly love and draws up a set up rules which he believes underlined them. Rules include ‘He who is not jealous cannot love’ and ‘He whom the thought of love vexes eats and sleeps very little’.

Marco informed us that the ‘femme fatale’ figure can also be traced back through time and is present in the myth of Tristan and Iseult. With a jovial expression, Marco added that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette was not at all original – Iseult commits suicide at the sight of a dying Tristan. Such love was viewed by romance writers as the ‘perfect’ love and referred to as ‘amour fine’. A 12th century author, Marie de France, who is known for her ‘lais’ (short stories)  explained that perfect love must always end in death.

Another very pertinent part of Marco’s talk was his discussion of consent in 12th century texts. Indeed, ‘consent’ is a rather modern term to use. However, Marco explained that there did appear to be an element of choice for the women depicted in stories such as Tristan and Iseult as the male character desires for the love to be mutual and waits for the woman’s approval before acting. He quoted a lovely line (in translation) from Bernart de Ventadorn’s poem: ‘She holds me in balance like a ship on the wives’, which refers to the male protagonist’s agonising wait for his lover to submit to his desires. Marco subsequently problematised this idea by discussing the prevailing elements of misogyny in 12th century narratives (such as the woman having little time to make a decision). At the time of these writings, marriage was not an act of love but an alliance, and therefore women had little say in choosing their husband. Marco acknowledged that these romances of courtly love were an inversion of the political reality of the time. Nevertheless, this idea of consent reflected the changing attitude of the church. In the 12th century the church started to recognise the wedding ceremony as a sacrament and therefore insisted that the will of both parties was considered.

Thanks again to Marco and everyone who attended, we are back next week with a history talk on mixed race relationships and women’s magazines in 1950s Britain (13th March, 4-5pm, HumSS280).