Viral Masculinities

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
University of Exeter

VIRAL MASCULINITIESThe University of Exeter1–2 September 2020 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

Professor Tim Dean (University of Illinois)

Professor John Mercer (Birmingham City University)

Professor Susanna Paasonen (University of Turku)

 CALL FOR PAPERS We’re living in viral times; ours is a time of contagion. As Tony Sampson writes in his book Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks, “the networked infrastructures of late capitalism are interwoven with the universal logic of the epidemic” (Sampson 2011, 1–2). Deeply connected to contemporary biopolitics and modes of digital sociability, virality also underpins news forms of wealth creation and accumulation sustained by 21st-century media, whilst at the same time (paradoxically, perhaps) presenting a political threat through the risk it carries of “contagious overspills” that may undo borders, nation states, institutions, ontologies and subjectivities (2). Defined by Sampson as “contagious relationality” (3), in the age of memes, “fake news,” hacking, epidemics, ecological crisis, global migration flows, antiretroviral drugs, YouTube and Pornhub, virality is at the centre of contemporary forms of both control and liberation (5–6). Whilst, on the one hand, it sustains the logics of 21st-century biopolitics (antiretrovirals, hygiene, cyber security, ID and age-verification systems, etc.), on the other, it has the capacity to disrupt subjectivities and social assemblages, a capacity that resides in its ability to facilitate unforeseen flows of desire and affect (chemsex parties organised through Grindr and facilitated by Uber, biohacking, citizen journalism, Wikileaks, Anonymous, the “Arab Spring,” the “Yellow Vest Movement,” etc.). If our time is a game of push and pull fuelled on all sides by contagious forms of relationality, what then for masculinities? If our understandings of masculinity are “inherently relational” (Connell 2005, 68), what happens to them in a context of “contagious relationality” (Sampson 2011, 3)? If “gender is a way in which social practice is ordered” (Connell 2005, 71), what has been the impact on masculinities of a social order both coded and disrupted through viral means? Within that context, we invite proposals for individual papers, creative/performative presentations, and pre-constituted panels addressing masculinities in relation to the material, technological and conceptual aspects of virality and its epistemological, ontological, ethical and/or (bio)political dimensions.

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Masculinities in the age of antiretrovirals (PEP, PrEP, TasP)
  • Masculinities and the “thirdworldisation” of the AIDS crisis
  • Masculinities and online sexual sociability
  • Masculinities and/in online porn (including amateur porn)
  • Radical/ised masculinities
  • “Alt-Right” and NRx masculinities from 4Chan and reddit to broadcast media
  • Masculinities, borders, and migratory flows
  • Fitness apps and quantified masculinities
  • Masculinities, #NotAllMen and #MeToo


Please send a 300-word abstract and short bio (max 50 words) for each paper to Dr João Florêncio at the Exeter Masculinities Research Unit ( by the 31st of January, 2020.

All questions should also be directed to

Notification of acceptances by the 1st of March,  2020.

 After the conference, a selection of participants will be invited to contribute their papers to an edited volume.