Call For Papers

Looking at Femininity ‘Sympodcast’

Hosted by Josie Cray (Cardiff University) and Rosie Couch (Cardiff University)

Femininity is on display all around us. From magazine covers and advertising billboards, to art exhibitions and cinematic screens, gender and femininity are still being shaped by formulations of the gaze. In 1975, Laura Mulvey suggested that ‘in a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly’. This project seeks to continue the work of challenging and expanding on Mulvey’s theorisations, already set in motion by Mulvey herself, as well as other feminist theorists. Almost half a century since ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, and in light of changing technologies and the overt visibility of social media platforms, how much do our conceptions of gender and looking still echo Mulvey’s much cited words? Have shifting understandings and formulations of femininity changed ideas around the gaze? How might exploring intersections of oppression complicate ways of looking and being seen? Broadly, how have Mulvey’s ideas around the gaze – and woman’s ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’ – been complicated in literature, popular culture, visual art, and beyond?

Considering ‘woman’ and femininity as fluid categories, we are inviting abstracts for an upcoming ‘sympodcast’ series ‘Looking at Femininity’.  The Looking at Femininity Sympodcast is an inclusive space and where the terms ‘woman’ or ‘women’ are used we include transgender women. An alternative to live, online symposiums, the weekly sympodcast will consist of 15-minute papers that will be recorded and sent by speakers, before being edited and collated into a series of podcast episodes by the organisers. The title of the sympodcast is deliberately broad to make space for contributions across a range of disciplines. Responses could ‘look at’ women as the subject, discuss work that involves a feminine gaze, or critique existing ways of looking at femininity. We also welcome creative responses to the sympodcast theme, such as poetry or flash fiction. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Screen femininities (TV, film, animation, music videos, etc.)
  • Art and femininity (fashion, visual culture, exhibitions)
  • Femininity and media (social and print)
  • Femininity and sexuality 
  • Women writing femininity
  • Femininity and race  
  • Obscured or marginalised femininities
  • Hypervisible femininities

We envision that the sympodcast will allow audiences to listen to papers in their own time. While this format does mean that we will not hold live question and answer sessions, we will invite questions from listeners following the episode. These will then be passed on to speakers, with answers collated on a series of blog posts. Though this format will not produce the instantaneous dialogue that might take place during a ‘face-to-face’ symposium, the sympodcast is also, in part, a movement away from this immediacy. As our ways of living, working, and communicating have become increasingly technologically driven due the coronavirus pandemic, we welcome the space and time to consider questions, collate responses, and create something to which we can return.

Proposed papers should be no more than 15 minutes in length. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and a 250 word biography, along with any queries, to the organisers at by August 31st. You can also follow us on twitter @AtFemininity