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Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities

Key People

There are over 50 Durham University staff involved in the Centre. It is run by two Directors and a steering group, which is draws on the interdisciplinary expertise of staff at Durham. Members of the steering group are from the faculties of Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences & Health.


Professor Maggie O'Neill, School of Applied Social Sciences 

Professor Maggie O'Neill holds a Chair in Criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences. She brings extensive experience of working in inter-disciplinary contexts with expertise in critical and cultural criminology. Research activity and outcomes include the development of theory; a focus upon innovative biographical, cultural and participatory research methodologies; and the production of praxis - knowledge which addresses and intervenes in public policy. Her research activity has been instrumental in moving forward debates, dialogue and scholarship in three substantive areas: prostitution and the commercial sex industry (since 1990); forced migration and the asylum-migration nexus (since 1999); innovative participatory, performative and visual methodologies (since 1990).

Dr Mark McCormack, School of Applied Social Sciences

Dr Mark McCormack is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Applied Social Sciences. His research has empirically documented the erosion of homophobia in educational and sporting settings, and examined the impact this has on the social dynamics of these settings. His research explores how decreasing homophobia has resulted in an expansion of gendered behaviours and seuxal identities for young people. He has also discussed the changing nature of homosexually-themed language, and stressed the importance to recognise generational differences in how such language is understood; particularly for teachers and other practitioners. He also researchers the improvement in life experiences of sexual minorities, with a focus on bisexual men in British and American metropolitan cultures. 

Steering Group

Dr Sylvie Gambaudo, Department of Philosophy 

Sylvie Gambaudo is a member of the Philosophy department. She has an undying passion for the study of gender and for what feminist theories bring to an understanding of experience. Her research aims to present critical arguments on gender and feminist theories, and applications of theories of gender to new experiences that are traditionally regarded as unintelligible. Her published work aims to bring to light novel understandings of those neglected experiences. In 2011, she created and coordinated the inter-disciplinary Gender Research Network, which gathered participants from all departments of the three faculties, as well as members of the community. The network was very successful and became the Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities in 2013. She is now its deputy director and a member of its steering committee. She is also an enthusiastic member of the Diversity and Inclusion Group (DIG) in the department of Philosophy. The group divides its work between addressing bias in teaching practices, and proposing workshops to understand the mechanics of bias, climate and exclusion in philosophy and beyond.


Professor Lucille Cairns, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Professor Lucille Cairns is the sole author of five monographs, as well as of numerous articles/ chapters on male and female homosexuality in French literature and film, on French women's writing generally, and on French Jewish women's writing in particular. She is sole editor of Gay and Lesbian Cultures in France (2002). She has been editor of Stirling French Publications (1997-2005), and specialist reader for many academic journals. She was President of AUPHF (Association of University Professors and Heads of French) from 2007- 2010, and is currently the national representative for French studies on the Executive Committee of UCML (University Council of Modern Languages). She has been advisor on a number of senior promotions in UK universities, external panel member for the Independent Evaluation of Teaching in the French Department, University of Sheffield (2006), and external member of the panel for the review of the School of Modern Languages, University of Bristol (2009). In 2009, she was made a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French government.

Dr Susan Frenk, St Aidan's College

Dr Susan Frenk is a member of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society and Politics, Deputy Head (Recruitment & Allocations) in the Colleges Office and Principal of St Aidan's College. Her research interests are: 20th and 21st century Spanish and Latin-American culture and Women's voices in literary and social history.

Professor Simon James, Department of English Studies

Professor Simon James' research interests are largely in the literary culture of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century periods, especially late Victorian and Edwardian fiction. His current research include an essay on Marie Corelli and the Fin-de-Siecle, a monograph on the male bond in fin-de-siècle literature, and an interdisciplinary project on time, memory and consciousness in Dickens. I was a Christopherson/Knott Fellow at the IAS in Michaelmas 2010.

Professor Mark Learmonth, Business School

Mark Learmonth is Professor of Organization Studies at Durham University Business School. He has a longstanding interest in “critical” approaches to management – including an emphasis on gender relations within organizations, and the central role of masculinist language in reinforcing dysfunctional forms of managerial control. Current research includes the representation of women’s work in Disney animated film (with Martyn Griffin) and recently published work includes a feminist analysis of laboratory life and a queer theory reading of leadership.

Dr Simon Forrest

Simon is Head of School in the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health. In his early career he taught in secondary and further education before occupying advisory and management positions in health promotion targeting young people. The focus of this work, on HIV/Aids prevention and sexual health promotion has underpinned his academic career. He has worked on a number of studies and evaluations focusing on various aspects of young people’s sexual attitudes and lifestyles. He was a Research Fellow in the Department of Sexually Transmitted Diseases at University College London and worked on the RIPPLE study – a RCT assessing the impact of peer-led sex education targeting young people and continues to research and write about gender, sexuality and sexual health with a specific interest in the experiences of and interventions with boys and young men. He also contributes to a variety of national and international expert groups, advisory committees and conferences as well supporting from the Board one of the world’s most effective charitable information providers around HIV/Aids – AVERT and the Boys Development Project. Simon chairs the UK’s national network of Behavioural and Social Scientists Teaching in medicine (BeSST).

Dr Stacey Pope

Stacey's research has incorporated areas such as the sociology of football and rugby union; comparative research in sports fandom and issues of gender, place and social class; the meaning and importance of sport for women; and the formative experiences of females across different generations and the role of the family in shaping sporting involvement. Her research interests are interdisciplinary in nature, incorporating sociology, physical education, socio-historical perspectives on sport, and leisure studies. Stacey has recently been awarded an AHRC Early Career/Future Leaders grant for the project, Female sport fandom in the North East, and will be working with colleagues in British Columbia and Strathclyde.

Prof. Catherine Alexander

Catherine has carried out fieldwork in Turkey, Kazakhstan and Britain on changing relations between state, market and the third sector, the built environment, migration, waste and technology. Her recent period of fieldwork explored how formerly elite closed ‘nuclear’ towns in Kazakhstan were trying to re-connect to broader economies. Catherine is currently Dean of Equality and Diversity at Durham.

Mark McCormack on... homophobia

"The new equalities legislation in the UK compels schools to promote inclusion and diversity with respect to sexual orientation. The equalities agenda provides the perfect opportunity to engage students about sexuality in ways that will enable them to learn about the complexity and pleasure of sexual desire, orientation and identity. Academics, activists and teachers need to be proactive in bringing about this change."

Shape. Inform. Influence.