GenSex: Gender and Sexuality Research Group

2nd Feb 2010, 5:00pm - 7:00pm

Edge Hill University

GenSex – Edge Hill University’s Gender and Sexuality Research Group – is holding a session in association with CONNECT Diversity Week, on Tuesday 2nd February 2010, from 5pm-7pm, in room M49 in the Main Building at the Ormskirk Campus. Refreshments provided by CONNECT.

This interdisciplinary session showcases the work of four members of the group, all recent graduates/current students at Edge Hill University’s Department of English and History. It features new research into gender, sexuality and pop music, featuring the music of Amanda Palmer and Tori Amos. It also focuses on contemporary British literature, including the work of the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy and the bestselling novelist Sarah Waters, and also problematises recent NHS legislation which has excluded men who have sex with men from blood donation.

‘The Mistress and the Maid: Emerging Sisterhood in the Nineteenth-century Domestic Sphere’ by Andrew Farnan

This paper investigates the relationship between the domestic maid and her mistress in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret and Aurora Floyd and Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet. This is a unique power relationship in which women have the opportunity to form meaningful sisterhoods within a society ruled by an overbearing patriarchy, but which regards the shared private experiences of higher and lower class women to be socially normative. Exploring the differences in sensation and neo-Victorian representations of the Victorian period, Andrew explores the extent to which Braddon uses this relationship as an opportunity for women to compete with and betray each other for the benefit of men, whereas Waters heroines see it as a change to engage with contemporary feminist issues of class, sexuality and identity. 

‘The Genderless Nature of Love in Carol Ann Duffy’s, Rapture and Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body’ by Emma Allen

The paper will study and compare the works of Carol Ann Duffy and Jeanette Winterson, focusing in particular on Duffy’s poetry collection; Rapture and Winterson’s novel; Written on the Body, both works that focus on love. It will focus on the way that both authors refuse to gender their narrator and explore the textual effects of this. Focusing on love and desire, love and rage, and love and death, the paper will argue that both authors remove gendered preconceptions about love from their texts by removing gendered identifications. Yet concurrently the paper asks: is it not impossible to write, and to read, about love without gendering it?

‘Do nothing amazing today: reading the NHS exclusion of men who have sex with men from blood donation’ by Peter Lee

This paper offers a personal reading of the NHS’: Exclusion of Men who have Sex with Men from Blood Donation Position Statement: 10th April 2008, and problematises this policy. The paper will explore the extent to which the policy plays a role in the state-sponsored stigmatic repetition which (primarily) targets male sexualities, following in the rich traditions of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 and the World Health Organization: International Disease Code 302.0. The paper will also call into question the nature of the relationship between The State and the body of the individual. The extent to which this policy serves to reinforce and constrain the male into a binary view of sexuality will be evaluated, and the further implications of this stigmatic binary reinforcement may have for males and also females affected through by the policy will be examined.

‘Truth or Dare: Amanda Palmer, Tori Amos and Methods of Feminist Catharsis’ by Francesca Lewis

This paper will focus on the iconic singer/songwriters Amanda Palmer and Tori Amos. I will be looking at their contrasting methods of expression in order to draw conclusions about catharsis as a feminist tool. I will look at a range of their lyrics, as well as their personas, to analyse Amos’ use of symbolism and archetypes as well as Palmer’s use of literalism and irony. 

Speaker Biogeographies

Andrew Farnan works as a teaching assistant on Merseyside. He holds a BA Hons in English Literature and recently graduated from Edge Hill University’s Women’s Writing MA. A member of the university’s Gender and Sexuality Research Group, his research interests include violence and society, Luce Irigaray and the nineteenth-century novel.

Emma Allen is a postgraduate student at Edge Hill University, currently studying for her MA in Women’s Narrative. The main focus of her academic interest is gender and sexuality and she has particular interests in contemporary poetry and prose, in particular the works of modern women poets. This presentation paper is based on her third year dissertation.

Peter Lee is post-graduate student currently studying at Edge Hill University on the English MA programme following the completion of his English degree in June 2009. His academic interests focus on gender studies, and he is particularly interested in intersections between feminism and masculinities.

Francesca Lewis is a graduate of Edge Hill University, and holds a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Her main areas of interest are sexuality, gender and subversion. She spoke at the launch of GenSex in 2007, and focused upon her final year dissertation entitled ‘Angela Carter and the Marquis de Sade: The Plausibility of Sadeian Feminism’. She is also a writer of poetry, songs and fiction and recently had one of her works adapted to short film by an Australian student who entered it into Top Designs, a state wide media competition.

Contact Details

Would you like to give a paper to GenSex or lead us in a workshop or seminar?  Interdisciplinary research-based debates, presentations and art installations are always welcome.  Topics can include… masculinities, feminisms, gender theories, queer studies, sexuality and subversion, bodily narratives and transgendered identities… just contact Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards by emailing