New year, new visiting scholar

Auckland TheoRel are delighted to welcome their first visiting scholar of the year, Jo Henderson-Merrygold, who has come all the way from the Sheffield Institute of Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) to work with us for five weeks. Jo is a PhD Student at SIIBS, and her visit has been generously funded by  the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH), as part of their doctoral training programme. In her PhD research, she is developing a strategy to read the Bible against established gender norms. In particular, she wants to challenge the way many readers assume that biblical characters are cisgendered – that their assigned (and assumed) gender remains consistent and fixed throughout their lives. She calls her approach a Hermeneutics of Cispicion.

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At Sheffield, Jo is co-director of Hidden Perspectives: Bringing the Bible out of the Closet. Hidden Perspectives showcases challenging voices and research which invite new perspectives on norms of gender, sex, sexuality, race and class. Recent events have included papers covering sex-work in Hong Kong, post-holocaust readings of gender norms, HIV and LGBT activism in Kenya, and a hugely successful ‘Orange is the New Bible’ symposium. Later in 2017 Hidden Perspectives will be organizing a showcase of student research from across the Faculty of Arts at Sheffield.

One of Jo’s main tasks while she is in Auckland is to work with Auckland’s Faculty of Arts staff and students to develop a ‘sister’ Hidden Perspectives programme here. Hidden Perspectives NZ: Bringing the Arts out of the Closet is a new venture organized by Rainbow Arts and Arts Equity that seeks to provide a platform for LGBTI+ student voices across the Faculty of Arts, and to foster a social and academic community where LGBTI+ Arts students can meet, share ideas, support each other, and get inspired by queer research and activism.

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Jo enjoying herself at Auckland Pride, 25 Feb 2017

Jo is delighted to be working with Hidden Perspectives New Zealand during the time she is here. She is organizing a new HPNZ website, has been meeting staff and students involved in HPNZ, and is currently busy getting our HPNZ promotional material ready for Orientation Week at the University. She will also be participating in a few HPNZ events while she is here, including our official launch (16 March) and her very own ‘My Queer Research’ seminar (17 March – details to come). Jo is so dedicated that she doesn’t even take weekends off, and spent last Saturday evening parading with University staff and students at Auckland’s annual Pride Parade. But we do give her a wee bit of time off, and she is having a great time exploring Auckland, enjoying our blue skies and warm sunny days (a bit of a change from the snow she left in the UK) and relishing the chorus of cicadas that provide the songscape in NZ at this time of year . Welcome Jo, and we hope you continue to enjoy your time in Auckland!

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Seminar: The Delilah Monologues

A reminder to everyone that there is another not-to-be-missed seminar coming up next week at Auckland Theology and Religious Studies. This is the last seminar of the semester in what has been a particularly fabulous series of presentations by our staff and PG students. So, next Friday, 12 June, I will be delivering ‘The Delilah Monologues’ to a (hopefully) rapt audience. This presentation/performance was premiered at Sheffield University’s SIIBS seminar series last year (and sponsored by Hidden Perspectives), so you could say it is a global phenomenon. And as extra incentive, there will be drinks and nibbles served thereafter. Hope to see you there.

The Delilah Monologues

Friday 12 June, 2-3pm, in Arts 1, Room 510

Drinks and nibbles afterwards!

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Henry Clive, Delilah (1949)

If Delilah could speak to us today, what would she say? How would this biblical character make sense of the multiple interpretive traditions and cultural retellings of Judges 16, which have portrayed her so frequently as a femme fatale par excellence – a fatal woman whose exotic feminine allure and lethal sexuality ultimately destroyed Samson, that most heroic Hebrew holy man? In ‘The Delilah Monologues’, I lend Delilah a voice, so that she can cast a queer eye over these retellings, and thus interrogate the very ‘straight’ ways in which they make sense of the multiple ambiguities surrounding her character within this biblical narrative.Focusing particularly on her sexuality, her gender, and her ethnicity, she will take you on a journey through a myriad of alternative performances for her persona, inviting you into the delightfully queer spaces that she may inhabit within this ancient story.