Thinking Backward: Reframing Lesbian Representation on Bad Girls (April 20-23, 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Associations
contact email: 

PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Associations
Joint Conference
April 20-23, 2011
San Antonio, TX
Proposal submission deadline: October 15, 2010
Conference hotel: Marriott Rivercenter San Antonio
101 Bowie Street
San Antonio, Texas 78205 USA
Phone: 1-210-223-1000

Panel Title—Thinking Backward: Reframing Lesbian Representation on Bad Girls

It has now been more than ten years since characters Helen Stewart (Simone Lahbib) and Nikki Wade (Mandana Jones) from series 1-3 on the successful British television program, Bad Girls entered the archives of lesbian representation and cultural memory. In the years since 1999-2001, the run of series 1-3, other television programs featuring lesbian characters have arrived, gone, or remain. Instead of measuring how far lesbian representations have come since the show's original broadcasting of the Helen-Nikki storyline, this panel seeks papers that take the turn back to series 1-3 to think through the layers of meaning attached to this representation. As Heather K. Love notes in Feeling Backwards: "Queers face a strange choice: is it better to move on toward a brighter future or to hang back and cling to the past? [. . .] Contemporary queers find ourselves in the odd situation of 'looking forward' while we are 'feeling backward' (27). To feel and to think backward to this show's portrayal of the Helen-Nikki storyline, as well as its general treatment of lesbians, women's issues, prison issues, and the fan communities that developed around the show, is to feel that tug of looking forward while seizing on to a decade's old televisual past that sometimes feels in front of the future in terms of mainstream representation of queer women and same-sex desire between women.

While this panel will consider all submissions focused on series 1-3, fan communities, and other issues tied this first three years of the series, some possible topics to consider are:

desire and identity
desire and literature/education
desire and reform
the conception of a kind of "homonormativity" (as Didi Herman calls it) that renders lesbian sexuality normative and desireable
rethinking of the "women in prison" genre
constructing queer community/family
notions of female leadership on the show
solidarity and dissonance
Nikki Wade as lesbian James Dean, Heathcliff, or Romatic Byronic Heroine
additional lesbian characters Denny Blood and Shaz Wiley

These suggested topics are only but a few possibilities to consider for this panel.

Please send 250-350 word abstracts to or to the physical address below by October 15, 2010.

Dr. M. Catherine Jonet, European Popular Culture and Literature Area Chair
New Mexico State University
P.O. Box 30001
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001