Volume 1, Issue 1Welcome to the first issue of Assuming Gender, an online academic journal dedicated to exploring contemporary issues of gender and sexuality. The beginning of the twenty-first century has prompted a proliferation of new debates, negotiating and redefining interpretations of identity and agency for our cultural and historical moment. Assuming Gender will embrace and extend these debates by evaluating and critiquing present understandings of gender and sexuality within contemporary society.
Since its inception as an academic conference held at Gregynog Hall, University of Wales in 2008, Assuming Gender has evolved into an electronic journal, annual lecture and seminar series. We are committed to a sustained critical engagement with recent theoretical movements, thereby implementing a productive new space for discussion and debate.
The Assuming Gender project is founded upon a keen multi-disciplinary ethic. We advance the most relevant, cutting-edge research developments across a broad spectrum of academic fields, including feminist thought, queer theory, literary criticism, sociology and critical theory. As each subsequent issue is published we will bring these various disciplines into proximity, progressing a space for discussion through historical investigation, critical analysis and cultural critique. In essence, the scope of the venture is to expand upon and complicate notions of gender and sexuality in a spirit of enthusiasm and collaboration.
This diversity in disciplinary approaches and historical periods is evident throughout our first issue. Chris Weedon examines the emergence of forms of ‘third wave’ feminism and their relationship to ‘postfeminism’, stressing the importance of mutual awareness to contemporary debate. Jonathan Perez explores the politicization of the New York urban landscapes, where the act of cruising subverts and rewrites the minority subject in bourgeois capitalist territories. Sasha Garwood analyses Elizabeth I’s manipulation of food intake and gendered rhetoric to resist possessive masculine accounts of the stately female body. Catherine Phelps surveys patriarchal themes in traditional detective narratives, and reads Alison Taylor’s Simeon’s Bride as a complex reappraisal of female identity in genre fiction. Two essays enlist critical theory to probe contemporary trends in popular culture. Engaging psychoanalytic theory, Jennifer Dawn Whitney considers posthuman representations of femininity, and studies their effects on desire and gender identity. Finally, Jeremy Fernando presents a poststructuralist evaluation of the nature/nurture debate, interrogating popular cultural assumptions of gender and biology.
As part of our remit to critically evaluate ongoing debates in this field, we have and will continue to include reviews of important new books. In this issue, we are reviewing, Beyond Barbie & Mortal Kombat edited by Yasmin Kafai et al (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008), Men of War: Masculinity and the First World War in Britain by Jessica Meyer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), and Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities by Del LaGrace Volcano and Ulrika Dahl (Serpent's Tail, 2008).
We hope you enjoy this issue,
The Editorial Team
Jennifer Dawn Whitney
David Andrew Griffiths