CFP: Toilet Papers: The Gendered Construction of Public Toilets (1/15/06; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Olga Gershenson

Call for Papers

Toilet Papers: The Gendered Construction of Public Toilets


Olga Gershenson (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)

Barbara Penner (University College-London)

"You know what they say about men who hang around women's lavatories.
They're asking to have their illusions shattered."

- Georgina to Albert, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover

We invite contributions for the edited collection Toilet Papers: The
Gendered Construction of Public Toilets.

Public toilets are amenities with a functional, even a civic, purpose.
Yet they also act as the unconscious of public spaces. They can be a
haven: a place to regain composure, to 'check one's face,' or to have a
private chat. But they are also sexually-charged and transgressive
spaces that shelter illicit sexual practices and act as a cultural
repository for taboos and fantasies.

This collection will work from the premise that public toilets, far from
being banal or simply functional, are highly charged spaces, shaped by
notions of propriety, hygiene and the binary gender division. Indeed,
public toilets are among the very few openly segregated spaces in
contemporary Western culture, and the physical differences between
'gentlemen' and 'ladies' remains central to (and is further naturalized
by) their design. As such, they provide a fertile ground for critical
work interrogating how conventional assumptions about the body,
sexuality, privacy, and technology can be formed in public space and
inscribed through design.

We welcome papers which explore the cultural meanings, histories, and
ideologies of the public toilet as a gendered space. Any subject is
appropriate: toilet design and signage, toilet humour and euphemisms,
personal narratives and legal cases, as well as art sited in public
toilets. We invite submissions in the format of traditional academic
papers of no more than 7000 words (including footnotes).

We also welcome the submissions of design and art projects that expose
the gendered nature of the 'functional' toilet spaces and objects.

Completed articles and projects should be directed to the editor at All submissions must be received via
electronic file no later than January 15, 2006. We encourage prospective
authors to contact the editors with questions about submissions.

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Received on Sun Apr 24 2005 - 11:03:42 EDT