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).
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?