Annual Lecture Series

Each year, Assuming Gender invites an external academic to present a lecture at Cardiff University on a gender-related topic from their own research. First held in 2009, the Assuming Gender Annual Lecture Series has proudly welcomed speakers including Professor Sara Ahmed from Goldsmiths, Professor Mandy Merck of Royal Holloway, Professor Rachel Bowlby of University College London, Professor Maureen McNeil from Lancaster University, Professor Maggie Humm of the University of East London, and most recently, Professor Nicola Humble of the University of Roehampton.

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture 2016

This year, we are delighted to welcome Professor Diana Wallace (University of South Wales) for our annual lecture, which will be on 'Female Gothic Histories' on 6 December 2016.

If the term ‘historical fiction’ is a kind of oxymoron which yokes together supposedly antithetical opposites (‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, ‘history’ and ‘literature’), then adding ‘Gothic’ into the mix complicates it further. This lecture will explore a tradition of Gothic historical fictions which stretches from Sophia Lee in the eighteenth century to Sarah Waters in the twenty-first century. Conscious that women have often been left out of traditional historical narratives, such female writers have turned to Gothic historical fiction as a mode of writing which can both reinsert women into history and symbolise their exclusion.

Diana Wallace is Professor of English Literature at the University of South Wales. Her teaching and research focus on women’s writing, particularly historical fiction, Modernism  and the Gothic. Her publications include Female Gothic Histories: Gender, History and the Gothic (University of Wales Press, 2013), The Woman’s Historical Novel: British Women Writers, 1900-2000 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and Sisters and Rivals in British Women’s Fiction, 1914-39 (Macmillan, 2000). 

The lecture begins at 18.30 in room 0.31, John Percival Building, and is preceded by a wine reception at 17.30 in room 2.47. This event is open to the public and free of charge.

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture 2015

Catherine Belsey to deliver this year’s Assuming Gender Public Lecture
Catherine Belsey, 'Women in White'. Poster Design: Rhys Tranter
Design: Rhys Tranter

On 2 December 2015, Professor Catherine Belsey will be delivering this year’s Assuming Gender Public Lecture at Cardiff University. The talk, which is entitled ‘Women in White’, will explore the connections between ghosts, storytelling, and gender history. Through a discussion of ghost stories, fiction, and cultural history, the event will focus on the gender politics of apparitions.

Professor Catherine Belsey is an entertaining, provocative and engaging speaker. Her most recent book is Romeo and Juliet: Language and Writing (Bloomsbury, 2014). She is also the author of Critical Practice (1980, 2002), Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (2002), and a number of other works [Read More].

The Assuming Gender Public Lecture is an annual event that is open to the public free of charge. This year, it will be held at Cardiff University’s John Percival Building. The main event begins in Room 2.01 at 5.15pm, and is preceded by a wine reception with refreshments from 4pm.

Facebook Event Page:

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture 2014

Professor Nicola Humble (University of Roehampton), 'The Literature of Food'
Design: Rhys Tranter

Please join us on Wednesday 10 December 2014 for the sixth Assuming Gender Annual Lecture. Professor Nicola Humble of the University of Roehampton will be speaking on The Literature of Good. The talk will take place at 5.15pm, in the John Percival Building of Cardiff University. It is preceded by a free wine reception from 4pm, and afterwards you can join us for a meal at Mezza Luna on City Road. (If you would like to attend the meal, please email Catherine Han at by the 8 December.)

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture 2013

Please join us on Wednesday, 4 December, for the fifth Assuming Gender Annual Lecture. Prof Maggie Humm of UEL will be speaking on Virginia Woolf, Art, Gender, and Politics. The talk will take place at 5.15 in the John Percival building, room 2.01. This event is free and open to all!

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture 2012

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture
12th December, 5.15pm, Rm 2.01 Humanities Building Cardiff University

Professor Maureen McNeil (Lancaster University)
The Right Stuff and Immodest Witnessing: Gendering lives in and through the new genetics and genomics

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture 2011

Design: Rhys Tranter. Click to download poster (PDF)
'A Child of One's Own: Parental Stories'
An Assuming Gender Guest lecture by Professor Rachel Bowlby (University College London)

Wednesday 14 December 2011, 5.15pm
Lecture Theatre 2.01, Humanities Building, Cardiff University, Colum Drive
All welcome
Funded by the University Graduate College and ENCAP

We are delighted to announce that the 2011 Assuming Gender Annual lecture will be given by Professor Rachel Bowlby (University College London), and is entitled 'A Child of One's Own: Parental Stories'.

Rachel Bowlby is Northcliffe Professor of English at UCL. Her books include Just Looking (1985), Still Crazy After All These Years: Women, Writing and Psychoanalysis (1992), Shopping with Freud (1993), Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping (2000), and, most recently, Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedy and Modern Identities (2007). She has edited Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and two volumes of Woolf’s critical writings, and is also the author of Feminist Destinations and Further Essays on Virginia Woolf (1997). She has translated a number of books by contemporary French philosophers, including Derrida’s Of Hospitality (2000) and Paper Machine (2005). She currently holds a two-year Leverhulme Major Research Award.

Please note that the lecture will begin at 5.15pm.
All welcome.

Parenthood is a neglected topic in comparison with other elemental attachments (the passions of childhood or erotic love). But recent radical changes in typical family forms and in procreative possibilities (new reproductive technologies) expose the mutability and multiplicity of ‘parentalities’, creating new kinds of parental story and new questions about parenthood. Why do people want (or not want) to be parents? How has the ‘choice’ enabled by contraception changed the meaning of parenthood? Today, the positive choice to seek and have a child as a matter of personal fulfillment is accepted as valid for men as well as women, individuals as well as couples. But there are also antecedents to the contemporary orientation, sometimes in classical texts where the parental story has up till now been sidelined. This lecture will look at one example of this phenomenon, Dickens’s Great Expectations.

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture 2010

Prof Mandy Merck (Royal Holloway): ‘The Question of Caster Semenya: Gender and the Level Playing Field’

Assuming Gender and the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory are proud to announce that Professor Mandy Merck will be giving this year's annual lecture on Wednesday December 1st. She will be speaking on the issues of sex and gender that were raised by what she calls 'the question of Caster Semenya' from 5.15pm in 2.01 Humanities Building.

Please join us for drinks and nibbles beforehand in 2.28.

Mandy Merck is Professor of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her latest book is Further Adventures of The Dialectic of Sex: Critical Essays on Shulamith Firestone (Palgrave).

Others include:
Hollywood’s American Tragedies (Berg); America First: Naming the Nation in US Film (Routledge); The Art of Tracey Emin (Thames&Hudson); In Your Face: Nine Sexual Studies (NYU Press); After Diana (Verso); Coming Out of Feminism? (Blackwell’s) and Perversions: Deviant Readings (Virago)

Assuming Gender Annual Lecture 2009

Prof Sara Ahmed (Goldsmiths)

This paper offers a feminist critique of happiness. It proceeds by suspending belief that happiness is a good thing, or that happiness is what we want, as beliefs that are central to the intellectual history of happiness. The paper suggests that feminist histories might offer an alternative history of happiness. It shows how happiness is what makes some things into goods (happy objects are those that are anticipated to cause happiness), and introduces the concept of "conditional happiness," when one person¹s happiness is made conditional upon another's, to explore how, for some, happiness means following other people¹s goods. The paper considers feminist consciousness as a consciousness of unhappiness, of what is lost or is given up by following the paths of happiness. Such consciousness does not necessarily involve a form of self-consciousness but a worldly consciousness in which unhappiness disturbs the familiar. The paper reflects specifically on Black feminist consciousness as a consciousness of what does not get noticed when happiness provides a horizon of experience.