In 2023, the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre will launch the Hunt-Simes Institute in Sexuality Studies (HISS@SSSHARC). Focused on the theme of ‘Queer Age / Queer Youth’, the Institute invites emerging researchers to think in two temporalities at once: retrospectively, with a deep understanding of past wrongs, and proleptically, in anticipation of a more just future.
Taking place from 20 Febraruary - 3 March 2023, the Institute will bring together PhD, postdoctoral, early-career and established researchers in sexuality studies to collectively engage the notion of a queer-led classroom designed for the provision of real-world graduate training that doesn’t presume exclusively academic outcomes.
The Institute is timed to coincide with Sydney Mardi Gras and the Sydney WorldPride Festival, which will see thousands of LGBTQI+ folk of all ages descend on Sydney.
HISS@SSSHARC will facilitate a queer cohort model of embodied learning and knowledge building. Drawing upon traditional subjects from the classroom, participants will engage in an experimental series of workshops led by internationally successful queer professionals.
Extra-curricular activities will include fieldtrips, school photographs and a formal – all Australian rites of passage that often strike fear into queer kids’ hearts. The Institute builds on the observation that all of us, young or old, established or emerging, have been school students at some time and might usefully revisit that experience in a queer-led context.
In the last thirty years, sexuality studies has not only consolidated as a field of inquiry but transformed the humanities and social sciences more broadly. Outside the academy, however, new culture wars rage around calls for social recognition and respect of gender diversity. More than ever, we need research-informed ways of talking about these developments and their relation to the history of sexuality and the rise of diversity as a cultural value.
Much of the cultural anxiety around queerness centres on youth. Approaching the topic of sexuality from the doubled perspective of youth and age provides some breathing space for more thoughtful approaches to sexual development and social aspiration across the long-term. Age here refers not just to ageing but also to the times, which seem to offer new rights in the form of marriage equality while other horizons of equality disappear in a landscape of fiscal and environmental crisis.
Trying to navigate the demands of the present while feeling historical? Welcome to queer middle age. Perhaps it’s time we set aside our theoretical baggage and re-engaged the perspective and energy of youth by maintaining an emphasis on creativity, collaboration and play.
HISS@SSSHARC is coordinated by SSSHARC Director Lee Wallace and ARC DECRA Fellow Dr Victoria Rawlings (Critical Education Studies, SSESW). Supported by a bequest from the late Dr Gary Simes (BA ’73, PhD ’79) – a linguistic historian, biographer and University of Sydney graduate – the Hunt-Simes Visiting Chair of Sexuality Studies enables international scholars to travel to Sydney to collaborate in the delivery of the Institute. In 2023, the teachers in our queer classroom will be:
PhD students, postdoctoral and early career researchers working in sexuality studies are invited to apply. We welcome applicants from all disciplinary backgrounds and engage a broad understanding of sexuality studies that includes LGBTQI studies, queer studies, trans studies and their cognate fields.
HISS@SSSHARC aims to select approximately 25 participants. There are no fees associated with the Institute. Partial grants-in-aid may be available to those travelling to Sydney from elsewhere. Successful applicants are expected to attend the entire two-week program, which will commence on Monday 20 February and end on Friday 3 March.
Applications open 1 September and close Friday 30 September. Successful applicants will be informed by the end of October 2022. Apply now.
Hero image: Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash.