Queer Studies Research Lunch: trans masculinity in 1920s Berlin; and queer desire in Vita Sackville-West and ‘Portrait of a Marriage'

queer studies

Our research lunches provide a relaxed space for those who already engage with queer studies to discuss their work, and for those who are interested in queer studies to find out how it is being used and how they themselves might engage with it, without any requirement of prior preparation.

This week, Samson Dittrich (BA History) will be speaking about readings of masculinity upon the trans body, looking at how different voices (doctors, national newspapers, LGBTQ+ specific magazines and transmasculine people themselves) perceive masculinity in trans men and transmasculine people in 1920s Berlin. 

Holly Johnston (MSt English) will also give a talk, 'Framing Queer Desire: Vita Sackville-West and Portrait of a Marriage'. In 1962, Vita Sackville-West's son Nigel Nicolson discovers a manuscript locked inside a leather Gladstone bag and in a small turret-room in the Tower at Sissinghurst Castle. The manuscript, written by Sackville-West, is a confession of lesbian desire and a document of her affair with Violet Trefusis. Nicolson publishes the manuscript as part of Portrait of a Marriage, which intersperses Sackville-West's confession with biographical accounts of her marriage to Harold Nicolson. This paper examines how queer desire becomes contextualised within wider heterosexual paradigms.

Presentations will be followed by time for group discussion.

Lunch will be served from 12:20 and will include vegan and gluten-free options.

All are most welcome. The venue is fully accessible. Please do contact us if you have any specific requirements.

Image: JA Nicholls. nice to hold. Oil & acrylic on canvas. Used with permission of the artist.