Hunt-Simes Institute in Sexuality Studies

Reimagining the Queer Classroom
The Institute brings together emerging and established researchers in sexuality studies to collectively engage the notion of a queer-led classroom.
2023 HISS

Image: Cherine Fahd

The Hunt-Simes Institute in Sexuality Studies (HISS@SSSHARC) aims to bring emerging and established researchers together to connect and collaborate on topics within queer theory, LGBTQIA+ studies, and their cognate fields. HISS@SSSHARC will centre around a queer-led classroom 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. 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.

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The Hunt-Simes Institute in Sexuality Studies is not like other specialist intensives, many of which are theory-intensive. HISS is modelled on the generalist classroom rather than the expert seminar. It emphasises the beginner’s mind and collective embodied learning. Across HISS 2023, the HISS faculty and students learned a lot about cohort building. In HISS 2024, we want to continue to reflect on that process under the theme of Queer Relationality.

Queer Relationality

Many of us work on relationality in one form or another. The 2024 HISS Faculty, for instance, have significant expertise in thinking about queer relationality in regard to sex, to others, to kinship, to history, to media, to genre, to games, to artificial intelligence, to methods, to space, to institutions, and to diversity. Many of our foundational experiences of these and other forms of relationality can be traced to school settings. The global rise of the marriage equality movement has recentred discussion of queer relationality in what many consider irrevocably heteronormative terms. By situating relationality in the context of schooling, learning and pedagogy, we hope to bring out new understandings of queer attachment, friendship, community, affect and thriving, which seems particularly important given the current clampdown on LGBTQI+ inclusive education in many jurisdictions.

How will we explore this together?

As in 2023, the 2024 HISS faculty will lead two-hour workshops loosely linked to their research expertise. Everyone – including all the faculty members – will participate in these workshops which are framed as revisitings of classroom subjects of the kind we all used to learn before we became divided by disciplinary specialism. HISS participants can expect to attend classes in Art, Science, Music, Media, English, Geography, and P.E.. Fieldtrips will also be arranged, as well as school photographs. There will be a formal (the Australian version of a prom) to mark the end of school. We also understand that most school learning occurs outside 

HISS 2024 will be co-directed by Lee Wallace and Victoria Rawlings. The international teaching cohort represents the full breadth of sexuality studies and a full range of career stages. Our confirmed contributors are:

Dr Tyler Bradway (English, SUNY, Cortland), works on queer narrative theory and reading practices. They have recently co-edited Queer Kinship: Race, Sex, Belonging, Form (Duke 2022).

Associate Professor Adam Greteman (Art Education, SAIC), also participated in the delivery of HISS 2023. Adam has written on liking and queer thriving in education settings. He is a key investigator in a project on intergenerational dialogue between queer seniors and queer youth that has recently received funding from the Spencer Foundation.

Dr Xavier Ho (Interaction Design, Monash University) is an emerging leader in queer game studies. Xavier contributed HISS 2023 and was the creative force behind the “45” light mural and Pride at Play, an exhibition showcasing 23 queer games from around the Asia Pacific region, both of which featured in Pride Amplified in association with WorldPride Sydney.

Professor Yuko Itatsu (Information Studies, University of Tokyo) has a current interdisciplinary project on Artificial Intelligence and diversity.

Professor Pamela Lannutti, directs the Centre for Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University. Pamela is an expert on queer relationship maintenance, resilience and sustainability, as well as family communication and estrangement.

Dr Sam Stiegler (Education, Wesleyan University) contributed to HISS in 2023 and his first book will come out during HISS 2025. Sam’s is an expert on qualitative research methodologies in the queer, trans and non-binary youth space.

Dr Martín Torres is a cultural geographer with an expertise in trans experience of urban spaces. Martin is currently Deputy Director, Gender and Diversity, in the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism. University of Chile.

Professor Amy Villarejo (Film, Television and Digital Media, UCLA) has published widely in cinema, television and media studies. She is the author of Lesbian Rule: Cultural Criticism and the Value of Desire and Ethereal Queer: Television, Historicity, Desire.

Dr Indigo Willing (Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University) has just published her first book in the emerging field of skateboard studies. As a consultant, Indigo has led projects on diversity, equity, and inclusion development for Skate Australia (2022) and conducted scoping research on anti-Asian racism and strategies to challenge it for the Australian Human Rights Commission (2023).

HISS is funded through the generous bequests of Dr Gary Simes and Norman Haire. Dr Gary Simes (BA ’73, PhD ’79) was a linguistic historian, bibliographer and University of

Sydney graduate—the Hunt-Simes Chair of Sexuality Studies bequest enables a number of visiting fellowships per year. Norman Haire, an sex education reformer, left a bequest to the University of Sydney to provide financial assistance to Honours, Masters by Research, PhD students and academics who are undertaking research in Sexology. 

We have defined Sexology as the interdisciplinary study of human sexualities, including human sexual interests, behaviours, identities, expectations and experiences. Sexology encompasses research into human sexualities using tools from a range of fields including biology, criminology, empirical cultural, feminist and queer studies, medicine, psychology and sociology.