Wednesday, 27 February 2019


Professor Laura Doan - Queering the Natural: Lord Berners and His Circle

Professor Laura Doan: Queering the Natural: Lord Berners and His Circle

Date: Wednesday 27th February 2018

Time: 5.30pm – 6.45pm

Location: LT3 Geoffrey Manton

Tickets: Free – available on Eventbrite at 

This lecture is part of the History Research Centre’s Seminar Series at Manchester Metropolitan University, and is part of LGBT History Month 2019. There will be a wine reception after the lecture.

The HRC Seminar Series showcases the latest historical work by featuring research papers from members of the History Research Centre (HRC) at Manchester Met, as well as invited speakers from other institutions. It offers a varied selection of papers each year, covering many different thematic and interdisciplinary approaches and all periods, from the ancient up to the contemporary. Seminars are generally held fortnightly, and are interspersed with three public lectures throughout the year, including for Black History Month and LGBT History Month. The seminar series is convened by Dr Andrew Crome, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History, and Dr Craig Griffiths, Lecturer in Modern History.

Queering the Natural: Lord Berners and His Circle

One result of the dominance of normality in the modern age is that we have lost touch with the distinctive calibrations and complexities of an earlier discursive system: the natural. In this paper, I argue we gain a different perspective on a figure such as Lord Berners (1883-1950), often referred to as England’s last eccentric. By stepping outside the logic of normality (with its structuring of the sexual as homo or hetero) we gain a different perspective on the queer disturbances of the natural world.


Laura Doan is Professor of Cultural History in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester. Professor Doan is an internationally leading historian of gender and sexuality, focusing especially on sexology, lesbian studies and women’s experience of war. Her book Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality, and Women's Experience of Modern War (University of Chicago Press, 2013) is widely regarded as one of the most influential interventions in the history of sexuality for decades, bringing queer theoretical and historical work into sustained and profitable dialogue.

Professor Doan’s most recent work has reconsidered the relationship between queer history and queer memory through the case study of Alan Turing, who helped break the German Enigma code in World War Two before being prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1952. She has also recently published on the marital advice material produced by Marie Stopes, focusing on Stopes’ ‘production of the normal’. This builds on Doan’s earlier work investigating Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness (1928), which resulted in her first book, Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern British Lesbian Culture (Columbia University Press, 2001).

In 2017, Professor Doan was historical advisor to the pathbreaking exhibition at the Tate Britain, Queer British Art, 1861-1967 (curated by Clare Barlow).

Link for her book:

Link for the exhibition:

Event contact Craig Griffiths ·

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