Conference on Phobias at University of Kent, UK May 2014

Fear and Loathing: Phobia in Literature and Culture

Centre for Gender, Sexuality and Writing

School of English

University of Kent


9th-10th May 2014 

Call for Papers

Focusing on the literary and historical representation of irrational emotions or phobias, Fear and Loathing seeks papers on topics and authors from any period, which aim to demonstrate the extent to which literary-historical study offers us unique insight into the cultural politics of emotions. Given the growth of both affect studies and historical enquiry into emotions over the past decade, Humanities scholarship has generated a rich and varied body of work on the representations and histories of emotions, sentiments, feelings and affects. This two-day international conference seeks to build upon this research and upon the relationship between the Humanities and the study of emotions more generally. Some key questions that we envisage animating the discussion at this conference include (1) how might we define phobia/fear/loathing within the context of the Humanities? (2) How have literary works been complicit with and/or reactive to dominant social phobias? (3) Can the archive be deployed to historicise feeling? (4) What role do the Humanities have in challenging contemporary phobias? We welcome proposals for individual papers and panels that address any of these core questions. Moreover, possible research topics for submission can include, but are by no means limited to:

Phobia & Academia

Archival Objects

Disability/Variability/ Disease

Bodies and Minds

Trans & Homophobia

Letters and Diaries




Human and Nonhuman Animals

The Monstrous

Borders and Territories  


Science and Technologies

Please send title and abstracts (300 words) for proposed papers and panels, along with a short biographical note (100 words) Deadline for submissions is 31st January 2014.

Conference organising committee: Dr Declan KavanaghDr Monica Mattfeld and Dr Sarah Horgan.


Micro-photography of individual snowflakes by Alexey Kljatov

this is amazing and crazy! 

(via tiarasofspanishmoss)

(via bidyke)


Are you an LGBTQ student enrolling in an undergrad or graduate program in the fall of 2014? Point Foundation is seeking the next generation of LGBTQ leaders. Apply for a scholarship today:


Are you an LGBTQ student enrolling in an undergrad or graduate program in the fall of 2014? Point Foundation is seeking the next generation of LGBTQ leaders. 

Apply for a scholarship today:


maybe instead of complaining “not all men are like that”

you should be saying “too many men are like that”

because when you say not all men are like that what you’re telling us is that you care more about your feelings than you do about our safety 

and that’s some shit right there

(via tiarasofspanishmoss)

Why Tom Daley’s sexuality is still important, even if it shouldn’t be.

Here’s a quick quiz:

Which of the following responses to someone coming out as queer [gay/lesbian/bi/trans] is homo/bi/trans/phobic?

  1. Ok, but why are you telling me?
  2. You can do whatever you want, but I just don’t know about it.
  3. You’re disgusting and sick
  4. I will love and support you whatever you chose to do, but my beliefs say you’re debased
  5. What about my grandchildren? 
  6. That’s fine dear [internally “OMG what are our relatives going to think?”]
  7. Enough already, there are queers everywhere, what’s the big deal?

Answer? All of the above. 

One of the things about disclosing your sexuality, or even, as in Daley’s case, speaking about who you’re dating without naming your sexuality, is that it is an experience that shouldn’t have to happen. In an ideal world. But it is still necessary, and this is something many straight people will never experience, and thus perhaps never understand. Most people assume you are straight, unless you have a stereotypical queer attribute. The burden of this unquestioned assumption is on queer people. And it’s not a nice experience.  However, the burden should be on straight people to show that they understand the difficulty of being in the closet, coming out, and that they are supportive: not to erase the difficulty by saying ‘well, gay people can get married now so what’s the big deal?’ I experienced (and continue to experience) many people’s silence in response to saying I was bisexual – which, even if they did care, feels like they don’t understand the difficulty coming out can be. Hundreds of years of society’s prejudice around homosexuality isn’t diluted immediately by gay marriage being passed, or the idea that ‘it’s ok to be gay now, so why are all these queer banging on about it?’. A law doesn’t automatically change people’s attitudes. Queers still get bullied at school [99% of LGBT teenagers hear homophobic language used in schools, and 84% find this distressing in some way], same-sex couples often don’t feel comfortable holding hands or kissing in public, and homophobic attacks still occur in the UK frequently [], families often still wish, secretly or not, that their children won’t be queer, and LGBT people still fear telling their loved ones that they aren’t straight. 

Therefore, a young famous sportsman discussing his dating preferences openly IS NEWS. There are only very few ‘out’ sports men and women, and this is not because there aren’t any! Daley’s video is therefore a hope giving display of honest bravery that is a real encouragement to young queers who are struggling to come to terms with their own sexualities. As Owen Jones says [link below], it was still illegal in 1980 to be homosexual, and sports stars were unable to speak freely about their sexualities. He goes onto say that Britain has changed over the last 20 years – and it’s amazing that many have responded with love and support. But this doesn’t mean coming out isn’t necessary. It just means its a little more acceptable.

There are two responses which need to be distinguished.

One says ‘This shouldn’t be news, but the reality is that it is, let’s talk about why’ and the other ‘This isn’t news, I wish people would talk about something else, Tom Daley’s sexuality is none of our business.’ 

The first attitude longs for an ideal and equal society where having to disclose one’s sexuality won’t any longer be necessary, because the ‘assumption’ will be that everyone is accepted. However, it is still necessaryand that this necessity is one of social justice. Daley himself recognises that he shouldn’t have to do a video to explain to his fans that he’s dating a man, but the reality of society is that he does, and has, therefore we must ask why. And it’s quite simple really: if someone feels it is necessary, to disclose their sexuality, to escape the pressure, fear and distress of ‘being in the closet’ – then who are we to say ‘you don’t need to do that?’ And the media storm proves that society isn’t at a stage where it isn’t news. But is this surprising when many in religious organisations still believe that it’s sinful? There is a direct correlation here between society and the religious attitudes. The second reason is that there is till a stigma attached to not being heterosexual, and coming out challenges the ‘heterosexual dogma’ of society. 

The second attitude affectively wants to brush questions of sexuality under the carpet, keep them private, and not admit that they are politically relevant. It’s a disavowal of the difficulties queer people face in everyday life by not having the privilege of being straight. Try walking down the street with someone of the same gender holding hands: see what type of response you get – try to put yourself in a queers shoes. 

But if Daley’s video helps one young queer not feel like they must self-harm today, stops another planning their suicide because they’ve seen it’s ok to be queer, or helps a teenager apologise to their queer friend after abandoning them when they came out, isn’t it worthwhile? Isn’t the desire to end discrimination, oppression, violence worth a media storm that sometimes gets the focus wrong? Is this really replacing ‘more important issues’ going on in the world? I think that hate crime, mental health, suicide and discrimination are pretty important issues really.
This is a chance to be an ally! Show your support, rather than thinking it’s irrelevant.

[And this isn’t even to mention the question of bisexuality that has been erased from the discussions of TOM DALEY IS GAY - but another day perhaps]. 

More reading for the interested…–and-the-reaction-to-tom-daleys-announcement-shows-were-getting-there-8977908.html



Liking blondes is a preference. Refusing to date anyone who is bisexual because you think we are all greedy or more likely to cheat isn’t a damn preference. It’s being a biphobic asshole.

if you’d be Perfectly Happy dating someone UNTIL you Find Out/(Suspect?) they are {Some Minority Group} then, really it is NOT a "preference"

(via nonmono-perspective)


Bisexual means “two genders” the same way Bismuth means “two colours”.


Bisexual means “two genders” the same way Bismuth means “two colours”.

kittensofmordor said: The only gay bookstore in the UK is in London, Kings cross. It's really nice and trans positiv.


omg look at this 90s looking website

Exploring Male Bisexuality

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