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Conference Speakers: Day 3 (28th Oct)

Panel C: Feminist Redux

Inés Garcia

Inés García (she/her) is a Mexican writer, translator, and PhD candidate in English. Her research project, ‘Acts of Form: Self and Theory in Contemporary Writing’, looks at anecdotal theory and autotheory in contemporary women’s writing. She has been published in Poligrafías, Still Point and Post45.

Contact Information:
Twt: @InesMorita
IG: @ines.morita

“Citation Politics and Feminist Bricks in Dionne Brand’s Autotheoretical Novel Theory”

This paper reads citation politics as autotheoretical gestures in Canadian writer Dionne Brand’s latest novel Theory (2018). Featuring a Black, lesbian academic narrator in the flesh of ‘Teoria’, this novel challenges prevalent assumptions regarding the difference between fictional and theoretical discourses. Brand’s citational practice as footnotes in the novel equates her narrator with renowned Black studies and feminist theorists like Christina Sharpe and Leslie Sanders. This practice echoes Sarah Ahmed’s determination that citations can be ‘feminist bricks’ that counteract the white, male genealogy that has legitimised academic research. Brand’s citational practice in this novel fully inserts her in the autotheoretical arena, in which ‘personal experience informs the writers’ understanding of theory, which recursively informs the personal experience’ (Carmody 2021). It also legitimises the novel’s theoretical impulses by allowing Teoria to examine her constitution as a Black subject in different social spaces (e.g., her sexual-affective relationships and academia).

Xenia Mura Fink

Xenia Mura Fink is an artist and PhD candidate. Her practice encompasses works on paper, installations, and animation. Since 2017 she has been teaching drawing at various universities. In her artistic research, she explores the charged intersections of figuration, desire, and the gaze against the backdrop of feminist discourses. Mura Fink has published on the feminine within Adolf Loos’s architectural work and the capacity of drapery as a gendered phenomenon.

Contact Information:
IG: xeniafink

Self-Representation, the Gaze, Desire, and the Female Artist: A Personal Case Study

Deploying my drawing practice, this visual and performative presentation outlines arguments for a critique of objectification as a commonplace and unquestioned strategy within female and feminist self-representation. As an artist who creates images while analysing critically the ones surrounding her, I find myself in a double bind, facing the hegemonic neoliberal emphasis on the agency of the individual. The idea that any form of self-expression can be interpreted as a means of personal empowerment has permeated feminisms of the 21st century, complicating a criticism of this imaging in the artistic realm. I interweave theoretical and autobiographical explorations to query our desire for the image and our aspiration for visual pleasure, looking at everyday life, popular culture, and contemporary art.

Emily Moeck

Emily Moeck is a PhD candidate in English, Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee, where she teaches in both the English and Cinema Studies departments. Her work is interested in the intersection of the archive, narratology, and race and gender studies. Her work has appeared most recently in Consequence Magazine, Fugue, and New Letters, where she was nominated for the O. Henry Prize.

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[sic]: Archiveology as a Feminist Theory of Narrative in Practice

If we understand the project of historical archives as (re)composing the narrative of white hegemony, can we subvert this practice without, paradoxically, reinscribing hegemonic time? Building upon Catherine Russell’s ‘archiveology’ and Giulia Battaglia’s concept of an ‘anarchive’ that reactivates archival forms into collaborative spaces, I argue we must create a new way to engage with the archive that is non-linear and dialectic—that composes itself from within and outside of historic/hegemonic time—where the affect prompted by the associative personal and historical memories of the reader/spectator co-compose the work of pastness.
After theorizing these future narrative constructions, I’ll present a sample from my own ‘anarchive’ work-in-progress concerning American masculinity through the personal lens of being the granddaughter of John Wayne’s agent: [sic] interweaves archeological history, film criticism, and memoir as a means of engaging in a complex narratological dialogue with the American frontier narrative on topics of historiography, cultural memory, and heritage.

Isabella Shields

Isabella Shields is a writer and PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, where she also teaches Literary Studies. She is establishing director and curator of 16 Nicholson Street contemporary art gallery in Glasgow. Her work focuses on trauma theory, intermediality, and the dissolution of boundaries within culturally prominent systems of representation. Her work-in-progress novel ‘A Common Spring’ was developed into a radio play for Radiophrenia in November 2020.

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Refracting Queer Trauma: Autotheory as Haunted Mansion in Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House

As a chapter of my PhD on ethical representation and the praxis of identification in autotheory, this paper explores how Machado approaches autotheory as a traumatised and shifting form. Using tropes from memoir, fairy tales, and horror films to footnote and index experiences of abuse, Machado interrogates what nuanced and negative representation means for queer people, finding an archive to refract traumatic experiences through to investigate self-perception and self-representation. As a bisexual Latin American woman in America, Machado explores cultural alienation and how it affected her self-perception and expectations of how she should be treated, examining instructive culturally received ideals and navigating her socio-sexual relationship to them. In this undertaking Machado has developed a vulnerable, care-informed work that queers the forms she refers to as a means of instating a literary and cinematic history which recognises and responds to bodily and emotional unsafety with speculative frameworks to negotiate that recognition.

Panel D: Theory Incarnate

Judith Schreier

Between academia and fat activism, Judith Schreier loves to browse social media, dive into any kind of queer media, take care of her plants and sometimes to write poetry and short stories herself. In 2019, she organized the first queer zine festival, Squeezie, in Leipzig and now she is part of a new collective, qcoon, who tries to create a permanent queer community space in Leipzig.

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“The Size of My Body Is A Simple Fact”: Autotheoretical Approaches in Fat Life Writing

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat (2020) by well-known fat activist Aubrey Gordon is a provoking example of fat life writing. The US-American mediascape experienced a wave of publications of first-person narratives by people who write about their experience of embodying a fat body that no longer fit the frame of weight loss narratives. Gordon’s publication adopts a distinct and creative mixture of genre-bending patterns. Gordon’s narrative incorporates feminist autobiographical, historical, and journalistic delineations and (and thus) autotheoretical approaches as transformative responses, reactions, and resistances to social debates about weight and ultimately the much-contested binary of fact and fiction. Combining the concept of autotheory with an approach informed by fat studies allows for a critical engagement with the debates, the (re)negations, and the dismissal of life science/medical research. The fusion of autobiographical narratives into theoretical elaborations builds a cornerstone of contemporary fat life writing.

Rebecca Mackenzie

Novelist and improvisor. My most recent performance, Collider, was developed following field research at CERN where I collaborated with a CERN physicist to investigate collisions of body, text and primordial energy. My novel IN A LAND OF PAPER GODS was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize 2017 and was an Observer Fiction Highlight and a Red Magazine Book of the Year.

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Swimming with Submarines: Violence and Becoming on the Clyde

Six months into my year of swimming, I moved to the Clyde, to a point where three lochs meet. Daily, nuclear submarines pass up to the base. I’d watch them from my window until one February morning, I ran down in my red swimsuit, down into the water. From a position in between the waves, I examine the idea of becoming within a world of violence. Delivered through multiple modes; swimming diary, lecture, choreographic gesture, along with participatory exercises to release embodied knowledge, this performative paper questions how we might embrace our innate natality.

Hatty Nestor

Hatty Nestor is a researcher and writer. She has been writer-in-residence at the Jerwood Space in London (2017) and critic-in-residence at Studio Das Weisse Haus in Vienna (2019). Her writing appears in Frieze, The Times Literary Supplement, Granta, The White Review, and other publications. Both her poetry pamphlet The Aching Poem (Boise State Press), and Ethical Portraits (Zero Books), were published in 2021.

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The Performative “I”: On Della Pollock and Denise Riley’s Embodied I

How is performing the I within essay writing, a form of failure, which invites difference and collectivity into the singularity of ‘auto’? How can words have flesh, movement and performativity? What does it mean to utter I, as an expression of survival and revision?
This paper will address writing the “I” as a form of political embodiment, through theorists Della Pollack and Denise Riley. Pollock writes about how the “I” can be performative, inviting error, disorder and difference into scholarly writing. The singularity encouraged in academic discourse, the presumption that the “I” should be absent from it, for Pollock means that the written self might be alienated from the performance of multiple selves. Through feminist theories of embodiment, she seeks to collapse the divide between the physical self and the invisible “I” within writing. 

Maria Gil Ulldemolins

Maria Gil Ulldemolins is a postdoctoral researcher in the Architecture and Arts faculty in Hasselt University, Belgium. Her PhD thesis was an autotheretical study of collapsing figures. Her current research explores alternative and multiple interiorities; and non-linear, performative textual structures. She is one of the co-founders of Passage (, a research line and peer-reviewed journal for autotheoretical and other hybrid scholarly writing.

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Autotheory for Mountains: Land(e)scaping the First-Person Voice

Vivian Darroch-Lozowski’s Voice of Hearing, 1984, begins with a narrator-unicorn; wording “creatures who are-not”. As she “shimmers” onto the page, she quotes Barthes, Cixous, Lacan, Lispector, and many others.
Much later, in Irene Solà’s When I Sing, Mountains Dance, 2022, a mountain’s soliloquy is broken by quotation-like technical drawings of tectonic plates. In Notes on a novel (that I am not going to write), 2017, the artist publishes a digital environment that mixes a travel diary, annotations from different sources, candid photos, hand-drawn maps, and texts written by other invited artists.
Can autotheory’s “I” be ecstatic, de-centered from individual embodied subjectivity towards the choral multitude of a landscape? Can an “auto-” be an “allo-” without losing itself? This presentation proposes traversing autotheory’s by-now familiar territory (the meta structures, the intertextual/intermedia games, the performative referencing), to arrive somewhere else.

Performance Panel 2: Mouthing Autotheory

Rachel Lyon

Rachel Lyon is a writer and practice researcher based in Glasgow. Her recent PhD combined her deep interest in feminist theorisations of self with her love for Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), a woman often celebrated for her mystic theology, her ecstasies, and her political reach, but less often as a proto-feminist icon. Rachel’s research hopes to right that balance, revealing Catherine as a powerful writer whose unconventional reading of the self is deeply relevant to feminists today.

Imitation as Method: Becoming Catherine of Siena’s voice

This work investigates the potential of shared becoming through accessing shared voice with the 14th century Tuscan mystic saint, Catherine of Siena (1347-1380). The work re-imagines Catherine’s practice of imitatio Christi, through which she enters into shared bodily suffering with Christ in order to receive entry into the divine body and become a living vessel for the divine voice, as a secular feminist methodology, against conventional strategies for producing and disseminating knowledge.

Holding Catherine in my mouth/giving myself to be held in Catherine’s mouth, I investigate our communal coming into being in the present day through enacting imitatio as an embodied methodology against linear temporalisation, allowing Catherine-and-I as a multiplicitous, fragmentary speaking voice to enmesh medieval mystic theology and contemporary feminist theory through bodily incorporation within the space of our shared mouth.

Lesley Guy

Lesley Guy is an artist and writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She is currently working on her PhD project at Northumbria University titled: It’s Better to be An Us: Exploring agency and totality within an assemblage. Her work is concerned with the nature and quality of collaborative art practice, with a particular focus on friendship as a method or model for art making and world-building.

LG and RCP Continued in Fragments

My work takes the form of experimental writings and installations of objects created by a semi-fictional Researcher, cut off from her collaborators and attempting to bring the group together into awkward assemblages. Moments of difference, where we miscommunicate, reinterpret or second guess one another as aesthetic friends, are the generative frictions that drive the work into unknown territory. The Researcher interprets the collaborations she takes part in, interacting with theory and material as if they were playing a game.

For the Autotheory Conference I will present an experimental response to the presentation given by the artist Roy Claire Potter to the Contemporary Art Forum at Northumbria University in October 2021. On the night I wrote seventeen fragments in an overcrowded notebook. The performance will attempt a verbal consummation of an unrequited creative interaction between two artists. The reading will include improvisatory asides and commentaries; reactions that are premeditated and live.

Nerea Bello Sagarzazu

Nerea Bello is a Basque voice artist and txalaparta player based in Scotland. Her work is inspired by deep listening, by the unearthing of forgotten sounds and voices, sounds of our sonic relationship to landscape and voices that fearlessly express vulnerability and emotion, like the voice of keeners. Nerea is doing a practice PHD at the University of Glasgow exploring collaborative art as a tool for epistemic justice.

Contact Information:
Twt: @sagarzan
IG: @nere.bello

Txalaparta, Elkarhizketa/Txalaparta: A Dialogue

If the body carries wisdom as it moves through life, can the exchange of embodied experiences through collaborative artistic practice be a tool for decolonisation and epistemic justice? Can my own experience and that of my body as indigenous woman, migrant, multilingual artist, and activist assist in shifting hegemonic assessments of knowledge through auto-theory? Can the dialogical nature of txalaparta, a percussive device from the Basque Country assist us in finding spaces and methods that might answer these questions?
I will address these questions through a live txalaparta performance.

Samantha Talbot

Samantha Talbot/Sam Lou Talbot is a musician, performance artist, poet, and popular music academic. She is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Glasgow, and a Lecturer in Popular Music at Perth College, UHI. Her research pioneers an aesthetic and onto-epistemology of spontaneous song/writing and its formal, methodological, and conceptual entanglements.

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Some Notes on Fire: Performing Desire and Its Discontents

The Space Junk Manifesto documents a solo, improvised text/score which orbits spontaneous song/writing and its formal, methodological and conceptual entanglements. So far, it exists in its initial incarnation as a barely legible handwritten, stream-of-consciousness text (1) (to be handed around); as an audio recording (2), and as an experimental dance video (3). Intended to be re-imagined in different locations, the manifesto has also been toured in a camper van around the Isle of Skye, in a series of secret gigs in unfixed locations, existing only in its documented form. Each time the manifesto is repeated, it comes about again, through the mouth, or body, in an unpredictable fashion. In this 20-minute solo improvised performance, or ‘autotheoretical exposé’, I attempt to ‘mouth autotheory’ before a live audience, troubling the ontological status of the fixed material, whilst expanding the genre into musical, performative, and discursive terrain, followed by a brief Q&A.

Workshop 2:

Lauren Cooper

Lauren Cooper is a PhD Researcher and teaches in English and Comparative Literature. Her doctoral dissertation explores the socio-political interventions that autotheory makes, particularly in manifestos, zines and women’s memoirs. Lauren has hosted several workshops on her research, using journaling prompts and creative writing exercises as a way in to autotheory and has began creating her own zines.

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DIY Theory: Autotheoretical Zine-making Workshop

Researchers, artists, creatives and members of the public are invited to explore autotheoretical zines and engage in autotheoretical practices to create their own zine, in this 90-minute workshop.

Zines are DIY publications that often use personal experience and affective writing to explore a particular topic. Scholars have identified many categories of zines and Lauren’s research, upon which this workshop is based, poses autotheoretical zines as an additional category, one which straddles personal and political zines. Autotheoretical zines engage in cultural critique and theorising, through writing about personal experience, and they engage with other theoretical works and citational practices, accordant with existing definitions of autotheory. These zines render theory into everyday language, actions and experiences, making theory more meaningful and digestible to readers, reflecting autotheory’s ambition to bridge ‘High Theory’ and lived reality.

Workshop participants will learn more about autotheoretical zines and will have opportunity to explore examples before turning to creative practices.

Participants will be invited to:
– Engage with a work of theory in personal ways
– Respond to a series of writing prompts
– Mine prompt responses for zine content
– Create a mini-zine from autotheoretical practices and haptic zine techniques such as collage, marginalia and personal writing.

Instructions for Participants:
Please bring a photocopy of a theoretical text that resonates with you. Some works of theory will be available in the session, though the workshop will work best with your own chosen text.

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