School of History, Classics & Archaeology

LGBTQ+ History Month: Professor Laura Doan

Historicizing the unnatural clarifies its operations as both like and unlike the abnormal, a paradox best unraveled by exploring the innovative interventions of two prominent figures: the composer and writer Gerald Berners and the garden designer and writer, Vita Sackville-West.  We will see that, in the modern west, creative individuals such as these were actively engaged in theorizing the nature of sexuality in ways that resisted sexological arguments organized around normalization.  A handful of artists and writers like Berners and Sackville-West redefined the unnatural as good and marvellous rather than as dangerous or abject, transforming unnaturalness into a site of wonder, radiance, and beauty. 

Professor Laura Doan

Professor Laura Doan

Laura Doan is Emeritus Professor of Cultural History and Sexuality Studies at the University of Manchester.  She is author of Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality and Women's Experience of Modern War (Chicago 2013) and Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture (Columbia 2001).  With Lucy Bland, she has edited Sexology Uncensored: The Documents of Sexual Science and Sexology in Culture: Labelling Bodies and Desires (Chicago 1998).  Her new book project (Bees and Birds: An Unnatural History of Modern Sexuality) explores the epistemological consequences of the lingering traces of an earlier discursive system—the natural and unnatural—in the Age of Normality.  Laura Doan is Emeritus Professor of Cultural History and Sexuality Studies at the University of Manchester.  She is author of Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality and Women's Experience of Modern War (Chicago 2013) and Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture (Columbia 2001).  With Lucy Bland, she has edited Sexology Uncensored: The Documents of Sexual Science and Sexology in Culture: Labelling Bodies and Desires (Chicago 1998).  Her new book project (Bees and Birds: An Unnatural History of Modern Sexuality) explores the epistemological consequences of the lingering traces of an earlier discursive system—the natural and unnatural—in the Age of Normality.  

A man paints a picture of a white horse which stands in an elaborate room
Feb 28 2024 -

LGBTQ+ History Month: Professor Laura Doan

The School's 2024 LGBTQ+ History Month event will be a lecture by Professor Laura Doan - 'Designs on nature: Reinventing the unnatural'.

Appleton Tower, The University of Edinburgh, Lecture Theatre 1, 11 Crichton Street Edinburgh EH8 9LE