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Live in or near Norwich? Or planning to visit Norwich sometime in February? Let me tempt you with a cornucopia of events talking place there to mark LGBT History Month.

Photo of Norwich Market, that I took myself.

Image via Wikipedia

Last year Norwich was the only city outside London to provide at least one event (sometimes more than one) on every day in February, and this year looks like this achievement will be repeated, or even improved on. The programme is still in development and listings are being regularly updated on the Norwich Pride web site. The University of East Anglia, where I work, is offering six talks that month, including one by yours truly – details follow.

Every talk will take place in the Lecture Theatre in the Thomas Paine Study Centre. UEA, as it is known for short, provides information on how to get to our campus. The Thomas Paine Centre is next to our Medical School (M2 on the campus map you can access from that page). Buses stop just outside and there is good disabled access into the Lecture Theatre.

Each talk starts at 7pm. Admission is free and you do not need to book in advance – just turn up. Details of talks and dates are below – hope to see you at some of them. Normal blogging will resume in a week or two…

Wednesday, February 2
Exploring Gender Roles, Stereotypes, and Bullying within Sport and Physical Education

Dr Rock Braithwaite (School of Education and Lifelong Learning)

This interactive presentation examines the gender ideologies and connections to movement based environments. Activity and discussion will focus on the ways in which prevailing gender ideologies constrain achievement in sport and physical education contexts. Potential solutions are explored to establish gender equity.

Wednesday, February 9
Silence and Signs: Sexualities in Hollywood Cinema

Professor Yvonne Tasker (School of Film and Television Studies)

The Hollywood production code which shaped representation within the studio era of Hollywood cinema prohibited explicit references to lesbian and gay sexualities. The resulting silence produced a repressive cinema no doubt, but filmmakers found different ways of signalling nonconformist sexual identities. The collapse of the production code itself rested in part on filmmakers who tested the limits of what could be said and shown, yet today many filmmakers continue to exploit the codes and conventions through which earlier Hollywood films spoke silently of lesbian and gay desires. In this illustrated talk Yvonne Tasker explores the move from silence to speech in American cinema’s representation of lesbian and gay sexualities. The lecture looks at studio era films such as Rebecca (1940), key transitional films such as The Children’s Hour (1961) alongside more recent movies such as Far From Heaven (2002) and Mulholland Drive (2001) which rework the signs – but not the silence – of earlier American cinema.

Monday, February 14
What is Hate Speech?

Dr Alexander Brown (School of Politics, Social and International Studies)

A talk on the philosophical dimension of what hate speech is, why prohibitions are morally justified, and which kinds of groups merit protection. This will include discussion of recent changes to UK law expanding hate speech provisions to include LGBT persons. Alexander has a research interest in hate speech prohibitions, having previously published on the subject and being in the process of writing a book on the topic for Routledge.

Wednesday, February 16
How Gay is your Car?

Dr Catharina Landstrom (School of Environmental Sciences)

This presentation examines the connections between cars, gender and sexuality in late 20th century popular culture.

In spite of efforts by lesbians (and other pioneering women) in the early 20th century the car quickly became a technology dominated by men. Although cars became everyday objects of use by both women and men in the Western world after the Second World War they retained an association with masculinity. Car expertise was constructed as a male domain and to show an interest in cars was a way of performing masculinity. Towards the end of the century the masculinity of cars and car culture had become so firmly established that is was possible to use cars to express sexual identity.

Looking at how cars were linked to gender and sexuality in four TV series produced in the 1990s and 2000s Catharina discusses the ways in which connections with different cars in specific ways become signs of sexual identity. She pays particularly attention to how this possibility was exploited in TV series portraying lesbians and gay men in positive ways.

Monday, February 21
Freaks or Sinners: How 20th century culture saw transgender people
Natasha Curson (Centre for Staff and Educational Development)

Stories of gender variance are as old as human culture – examples can be found in early myth and religion and in historical records as far back as Roman times. The development of medical intervention in the twentieth century, both surgical and hormonal, allowed more people to consider transitioning between gender states that were thought, by many people, to be fixed and unchangeable. News media started to write about transgender people. The medical profession, law-makers and religious leaders became interested as this hidden community started to become more visible. And novelists, film-makers and other artists began to depict trans characters in their work.

What was it like as a transgender child growing up in the later part of the twentieth century, trying to make sense of an internal feeling of gender conflict and looking for information and role models? Almost all the accounts you would encounter were judgemental, depicting trans people as weird, “fakes” or “deceivers”, or living on the fringes of society and barely worthy of decent treatment. Natasha Curson takes you on a personal journey, drawing on her own experience of growing up trans in a time of huge social and political change.

Wednesday, February 23
Queer as Pulp: LGBT Pulp Fiction, Then and Now

Dr BJ Epstein (School of Literature and Creative Writing)

LGBT people weren’t always an acceptable topic in serious literature, but they did feature in pulp fiction to a certain extent. In this talk, B.J. Epstein will look at LGBT pulp fiction from the 1950s and 1960s and will compare it to modern LGBT paperback romances. Who appeared most often in LGBT pulp fiction – Ls, Gs, Bs, or Ts? Who appears most often in modern romances? How are LGBT people portrayed in these books and how has this changed over time?

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