Centre for Studies in Literature

Body Politics

Research being undertaken by the Body Politics cluster offers a wide range of approaches towards and understandings of literal and metaphorical bodies from the sixteenth century to the present day.  Cultural constructions of the body in relation to identity, gender, sexuality, race, crime, law, food/consumption and celebrity are key strengths in the research of this cluster, along with queer theory, the relationship between time and the body, body and mind/soul/spirituality, corporeality and incorporeality, natural and supernatural phenomena, and the metaphorical bodies of the nation and the body politic. Our research engages with literary, medical, legal, pictorial, sculptural, photographic and performance material, and how these different media and discourses influence and engage with each other. Researchers within this cluster enjoy some excellent connections with local museums and galleries.

As well as attending academic events nationally and internationally, cluster members are actively involved in organising conferences and symposia at Portsmouth University. Upcoming and recent conferences include: Bloody Passions: Extreme Emotion on Early Modern Literature and Culture (October 2015) exploring the relationship between medical, philosophical and social discourses surrounding the body and emotion in early modern period; Julia Margaret Cameron: A Bicentenary Conference (July 2015) exploring Cameron’s interdisciplinary significance and ideas of celebrity; Celebrity Encounters: Transatlantic Fame in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America (July 2014), which engaged with the issue of celebrity bodies and considered geographically located notions of identity, race, gender and class; and Early Modern Exclusions (September 2010) which debated the construction of social bodies through exclusion.

The cluster also supports a thriving postgraduate community, at Masters level through the MA in Literature, Culture and Identity, and MRes students working on ‘Representations of Anne Boleyn’ and 'Black celebrity in Victorian culture', and in PhD research on 'Julia Margaret Cameron and the Archives of Fantasy: Traces of the Victorian Imagination in Post-Victorian Fiction', ‘Dressing the Double: Sartorial Twinning in Neo-Victorian Fiction’ and ‘Contemporary US Masculinity’.

Members: Dr Charlotte Boyce, Dr Ben Davies, Dr Jessica Dyson (cluster leader), Dr Páraic Finnerty, Dr Laurel ForsterDr Christopher Pittard, Dr Rosie Paice, Dr Bronwen Price, Dr Helen RingrowDr Elodie Rousselot, Dr Bethany SimmondsDr Diane Warren.

Doctoral students: Lucy CookLisa FelsteadDebbie Parker KinchSara Zadrozny