Queer Modernism(s) II: Intersectional Identities

deadline for submissions: 
December 18, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
University of Oxford
contact email: 

After the resounding success of the first Queer Modernism(s) conference in 2017, we are excited to announce the CfP for Queer Modernism(s) II: Intersectional Identities, set to be held on April 12th & 13th 2018 at the University of Oxford. Queer Modernism(s) II is an interdisciplinary, international conference exploring the place of queer identity in modernist art, literature and culture, with an emphasis on intersecting identities. Panelists are invited to question, discuss and interrogate the social, sexual, romantic, artistic, affective, legal and textual relationship between queer identity and modernity.

The CfP closes December 18th 2017. Decisions will be made in early January.

We are delighted to announce that our Keynotes will be Dr. Sandeep Parmar (University of Liverpool) and Dr. Jana Funke (University of Exeter). Dr. Parmar is a BBC New Generation thinker, and has published widely on women’s literature in the 20th century, especially lesser known and non-canonical women. Dr. Funke is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities in the English Department at the University of Exeter and a Wellcome Trust Investigator. Her research cuts across modernist studies, the history of sexuality and the history of science. She has published on modernist women’s writing, the history of sexual science and queer literature and history.

We are further thrilled to announce that Queer Modernism(s) II will include a ‘Queer Historiography and Heritage’ seminar run by Heather Green, who has worked extensively on projects concerning the likes of E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence and Lord Byron.

The early twentieth century saw sweeping changes in legislature, politics and lifestyle for queer people. More than ever, LGBTQ+ citizens faced penal repercussions for their behaviour, as well as public scrutiny. In 1895, art collided with the judicial system as the trial of Oscar Wilde scandalised the press, succeeded by censorship against the likes of Radclyffe Hall and Federico García Lorca. At the same time, queerness became a political issue. Throughout the 1900s, governments codified and legislated sex work, same-sex relations, queer bodies and women’s reproductive rights. After the outbreak of war in 1914, there were global concerns that homosexuality was a disease, spreading through the dug-outs like tuberculosis. The New Woman sparked a wave of lesbian panic, as feminine ideals were cast aside in favour of driving, smoking and dancing. Political upheaval throughout the world saw queer rights used as a bargaining tool as new governments came to power.

In the same period however, LGBTQ+ citizens were establishing sites of resistance against social norms and state intervention. The Hirschfeld Institute was set up as a means of studying non-normative sexual behaviour and gender identity, pushing for the German government to legalise same-sex acts between men as they had in South America. Around the corner boy-bars flourished in Berlin, notoriously outrageous and cherished by figures of the silver screen. In Paris, Gertrude Stein and Natalie Clifford Barney set up influential salons, whilst The Rocky Twins made their debut performance as The Dolly Sisters. Across the pond, Gladys Bentley crooned about women, while the infamous ball scene began to lay its roots. Early queer theory rippled through both the arts and science. Myriad new terminology appeared, ‘cures’ for inversion came to light, Havelock Ellis published his theories of sexuality, sex reassignment was pioneered in Russia and Freud played analyst to many modernists. Writers and artists from Larsen to Forster to McKay to Bryher to Thurman to Tatsumi to Isherwood to Baker explored queer themes implicitly and explicitly within their work, many of which remain radical today.

Nevertheless, sexuality and modernity are not neatly packaged. Queerness is explored, troubled, empowered, frustrated, and intrumentalised by illness, class, nationality, race, work, disability, citzenship, gender, technology, language, age, religion and countless other forms of identity. One need only look to Bloomsbury, Cairo, Harlem, the Left Bank or Tokyo to be confronted by innumerable examples of these. Queer Modernism(s) II seeks to unpackage such identities through panel discussion, roundtables and seminars.

The conference invites discussion of the ways in which modernists negotiate the concept of queerness within their work, with particular attention to intersectional identities. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Friendships, Romances, Patronage
  • Camp
  • Life-writing and Biography
  • The Intersection of Sexuality and Race, Class, Gender and/or Disability
  • Psychology and Sexology
  • Early / Late / New Modernism(s)
  • Sapphisms
  • Pride
  • Queer Spaces / Sites of Resistance
  • Sex Work
  • Queer Culture
  • Religions and Spirituality
  • Femininities / Masculinities
  • Drag
  • Formal and Aesthetic Responses to Queerness
  • Kink
  • Civil Rights and Legal Standing
  • Ball Culture
  • The Death Drive and Pleasure Principle
  • Shame
  • Trans and Non-Binary Identities
  • Queer Historiographies / Queer Geographies / Queer Linguistics
  • Sexual Deviance and Inversion
  • Femme and Butch Presentation
  • Pornography
  • (B)identities
  • Rumours, Gossip and Slander
  • Ecologies

Individual papers should be fifteen minutes in length. To apply, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to queermodernism@gmail.com as well as a brief biography of no more than 200 words.

Panel presentations should be forty-five minutes in length. To apply, please send an abstract of no more than 800 words to queermodernism@gmail.com as well as a brief biography of no more than 200 words per person.

Submissions are open to all MA and PhD students, as well as ECRs and academics.