Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Booze, Curry and Hidden Perspectives: Interview with Chris Meredith

8 Comments

Chris Meredith will give a talk on ‘Public Toilets and Gay Turtles: Notes on Sexual Cosmology’ at our 1 June festival. Here Chris gives us an insight into his research, his thoughts on gold sparkly Bibles and his social plans for the evening (to which there seems to be an open invitation – see you there!).

Chris’s latest book is Journeys in the Songscape: Space and the Song of Songs (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013).

So, Chris, public toilets and gay turtles, eh? Is that your usual research area? Give us a summary of the kind of thing you do.Chris Meredith

Ha! It all comes back to that old adage: write what you know; misspelled (if gloriously well-illustrated) graffiti. Basically, my research is interested in poetics, literary theory and cultural criticism. I like putting biblical texts in peculiar situations—usually literary rather than ablutional—in order to think again about what we think we know. So, I’ve written on how Eddie Izzard appropriates the Bible through discussions about poo (you heard me; it’s to do with Julia Kristeva), and on the connection between Vajazzling and the Song of Songs (it’s all about bodily performativity), and on the instability of biblical gender roles. But I also write a lot about spatial theory, about how the patterning of our worlds (real and imagined) mediates power. My next book will be on Sodom and the way it’s been used to institute ‘sexual cosmologies’ in modernist thought. In other words, the Bible’s quite a spatial text and I’m doing my best to explore it in good literary company—one cubicle at a time.

Why did you get involved in the Hidden Perspectives project? 

The Booze. And the crowd. Oh. And Dominic’s cabaret. Ohhh. And the fact that many people see LGBTQ communities and the Bible as mutually exclusive. Oh. And because lots of discussions about the Bible and LGBTQ issues tend to dance to the tune of, or around the noise made by, a prevailing social and religious orthodoxy. It’ll nice to turn the volume down. And did I mention the booze?

How will you ‘bring the Bible out of the closet’ at the festival on 1 June?  

It’s bound in leather with sparkly gold pages, darling; I think it’s one step ahead of you.

Okay, Okay…this time without resorting to cheap (and ultimately unhelpful) stereotypes. Take two. Ahem. By suggesting that the very language of in/out (and of ‘orientation’ and of ‘opposite’ sexes) is related to the ways in which the Bible often deals with sexual activity by establishing spaces that codify it. I’m going after the closet itself.

Why do you think Hidden Perspectives is important? 

For two reasons. One, uno, Ein, i: Because work on biblical literature is more vibrant, experimental, and interesting than lots of people might think, and it’s good to showcase it. And two, dos, Zwei, ii: because the insight, interest, knowledge and integrity of thought on such issues is greater among the LGBTQ community than lots of people give it credit for being—and I want as much exposure to that as I can get.

What are you up to next? 

Well I’m going to have a curry, I think. And then watch a film. Anyone fancy popping over?

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Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

8 thoughts on “Booze, Curry and Hidden Perspectives: Interview with Chris Meredith

  1. Big smile on my face after reading this! that does it, I’ll be there 1st June 🙂

  2. Yay, Caroline! See you there. Mine’s a peshwari naan. *gets the beers in*

  3. Small smile on my face after reading this as I will not be there 1st June 😦

  4. Hi Chris (if I may!),

    this looks wonderful! I love the way how you juxtapose Song of Songs with everyday words like “vajazzling”. It really brings the Bible to life and to the person on the street or in the bar. Ironic really, because it was the ancient streets and b(aza)ars where it originated…among the people! And I’m so glad you’ve mentioned that Song of Songs is about gender roles because it shows that Christians can embrace one another in love, including erotic love. We aren’t all prudes!

    Hope to meet you soon!

    Nancy P (USA – but not like George W. Bush!)

    • Naaaaw, Nancy. You’re too kind. Glad I piqued your interest. Looking forward to meeting you on June 1st. We’ll have a little rendition of The Star Spangled Banner together…

  5. Dr Meredith (if I may),

    I found your research program to be quite inspiring, and went on to read your participant profile, which, again, was wonderful.

    In particular, I was thrilled to see you have an interest in “the cultural history of masturbation and the biblical Onan”. For I, too, have had a long-time (professional) interest in the “dangerous supplement”, which is as widely shunned in public as it is practiced in private. And while, in my many compositions of biblically-themed erotic clop-fic, I cannot claim to have indulged as extensively as or with the prolixity of St. Jacques of blessed memory, I would like to claim that, at the very least, I can hold my own.

    In the seven-part clop-fic novella I am currently composing, I hope you will be pleased, and perhaps even honored, that it is based on a young adjunct professor at a small community college in Missouri, whose mind often wanders into sexual fantasies concerning other members of the faculty with whom he works. His onanistic fantasies transform his body into the well-endowed pony, Braeburn of Appleloosa. After extravagant equine sexual fantasies, he only just manages to change back into his human form before staff or students walk into his office. And he can only effect this reverse transformation by unloading his “little ponies”.

    I wish you all the best with your own writing. I think I need a short break, now.

  6. Well, Aloysius. I don’t know what to say! Sounds fascinating…I’m not as familiar with clopfic as with St Jaques of Blessed Memory, but no doubt he would have been proud. I will certainly never look at a pair of jodhpurs in quite the same way again. Glad you enjoyed the post…

  7. Hi Chris (again, I hope you don’t mind!)

    I was so excited that you responded and I was soooo inspired by the table of contents of your book that I’ve written a little poem based on Song of Songs, spatiality and Aloysius’ delightful novella-in-the-making. I hope you like it. I try to leave the meaning open for everyone.

    ‘Sus-y’

    O you children of Zion!
    By the hinds, does and roes of the field, I adjure thee!
    Will this stallion de-similerize this mare among Pharoah’s mighty chariots (or vice-versa)?
    Will this wild gazelle part the trembling second phalanx and tarsus?
    Will this steed – no longer a foal! – take this bag of myrrh between these hind legs?
    Will he command Solomon’s equine troop?
    Will my little sus-y whinny down this naïve but willing mane?
    Or was the donkey-headed Christ’s sacrifice in vain?

    Really looking forward to meeting you on June 1!

    Nance xx

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