Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Coming Off Clean: Women's Sexual Autobiography in Contemporary Art and Literature

18th March, 10.30-6.00, Corpus Christi College Oxford (al-Jaber auditorium)

A one-day conference organised by The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) and the Women and the Humanities programme.

Organisers: Katherine Angel and Tim Whitmarsh

When women have expressed their own sexuality in public it has often spelled trouble in the eyes of mainstream society. In this conference, cultural practitioners and academics reflect on female sexual autobiography, untroubled by the trouble they may cause. 'Coming Off Clean' is a phrase taken from art critic Chris Kraus's ‘theoretical fiction' book, I Love Dick. In the book, Kraus is preoccupied with how the ‘I' of women writers and artists has tended to be pathologised, and cast as narcissistic, confessional, and totally at odds with the analytical. Why, she asks, do we distinguish between male artists as ‘poet-men, presenters of ideas' and ‘actress-women, presenters of themselves'? Why, she asks, ‘does everybody think that women are debasing themselves when we expose the conditions of our own debasement? Why do women always have to come off clean?'


ANNA KEMP (Queen Mary University of London): ‘Orlan: Universal Woman'
HELEN HESTER (Middlesex): ‘Pharmacopornographic Embodiments'
SHIRLEY JORDAN (Queen Mary University of London): ‘How to read Christine Angot'
ALEX DYMOCK (Reading) on Marie Calloway: ‘Automatonomy: Notes on Marie Calloway's What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life?'
OCTAVIA BRIGHT (UCL / writer) ‘Clean on the Dirty: Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin'
ALISON J. CARR (Sheffield Hallam / artist): ‘Closing remarks'

Abstracts can be viewed here.

Booking: Please contact Lucy Jackson ( The cost for the day will be £20 (£15 student / unwaged), to include lunch, tea/coffee and a glass of wine. The booking form can be downloaded here.


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