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The Queer Art of Feeling: Sensation, Emotion and the Body in Queer Cultures

2–3 May 2019
University of Cambridge, UK
with a keynote lecture by Sara Ahmed

Call for Papers

Deadline for submissions: Wednesday 5 December, 12 noon

Since the earliest works of queer theory, scholars have placed the body at the centre of queer experience, and especially the performative constitution of identity. But in the last decade, influenced by phenomenology, approaches to queer culture have looked to the body as a site of queer knowledge production more broadly, combining ways of thinking, sensing and feeling. Affect studies, trans theory, new materialism, embodiment theory and cognitive approaches to the humanities have revolutionised our understanding of queer experience and perception, togetherness and community, art and creativity. 

The political power, even the essence, of queerness has often been located in its disruptive and destabilising relationship with dominant ways of thinking and social norms. Yet from the ‘anti-social thesis’ to recent discussions of ‘queer theory without antinormativity’, debates in queer studies challenge us to understand queer belonging to and orientation within societies also in embodied, interconnected terms. At once within and outside wider cultures and norms, queer bodies become a site of uniquely contested lived experiences, and of peculiar creativity in shaping and re-creating our selves, communities and worlds.

This conference explores the potential of the arts to represent, explore, challenge and create modes of queer lived, felt and embodied experience. Taking ‘feeling’ in all its meanings – touch, hapticity, sensation, emotion, a hunch or gut reaction, as well as tentativeness when ‘feeling one’s way’ – the conference will explore the complex relationships to culture and society that are at stake in queer artworks and queer experience.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers, or alternative forms of presentation or performance, on the subject of the queer art of feeling. Papers are welcomed from across disciplines – including, but not limited to, literature,
film, and the visual and performing arts – and from scholars at all career stages. Topics might include:

  • the politics or ethics of representing queer bodies
  • the role of the body, emotions or sensation in queer forms of perception or cognition
  • interactions between body, mind and representation
  • theoretical questions around embodiment in queer phenomenology, new materialism, trans theory,
  • cognitive theory, or other movements
  • the relationship between the arts and queer experiences that are embedded in a certain time and/or place
  • the emotions of queer exclusion and belonging, both positive and negative
  • feelings of marginality and oppression within queer communities themselves
  • the place of the body or the emotions in queer activism

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to by the deadline of 12 noon on Wednesday 5 December 2018. We also welcome proposals for panels of three speakers, in which case please submit an abstract for the panel, and details of each speaker’s paper (max 750 words).

A small number of travel grants may be available for postgraduate, early-career, part-time and independent scholars. Please indicate in your proposal if you would like to be considered for one of these awards.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with queries at:

This conference is generously sponsored by the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS), London.

Geoffrey Maguire (Cambridge)
Fraser Riddell (Oxford)
Tom Smith (St Andrews)

Welcome to Q+

lgbtQ+@​cam is an initiative launched in 2018 to promote interdisciplinary research, outreach and network building related to queer, trans and sexuality studies at the University of Cambridge.

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This programme is proudly supported by Clifford Chance.

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