Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Mark Pendleton Lecture: Thinking Queer about the Life of James Kirkup: Poet, Conscientious Objector and Japanophile

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To accompany the LGBT photo exhibit by Hidden Perspectives Project held on Monday 23 February, there will be a lecture by Mark Pendleton (University of Sheffield); Thinking Queer about the Life of James Kirkup: Poet, Conscientious Objector and Japanophile.

Mark Pendleton (University of Sheffield)

Mark Pendleton (University of Sheffield)

The lecture will take place on 23 February, 6pm in Jessop West Social Space, G03, at The University of Sheffield.

Forty years ago this year, the poet and translator James Kirkup (1918-2009) spent an academic year as a Writing Fellow here at the University of Sheffield, part of a short sojourn back to the UK that broke up thirty-odd years of living in Japan from 1958 to the early 1990s. A couple of years later, Kirkup published a poem in Gay News imagining the sexual desire of a centurion for the dying Jesus, which was the subject of a blasphemous libel case brought by the notorious ‘family values’ conservative Mary Whitehouse.

Before becoming a somewhat unwilling poster boy for 1970s debates between a newly confident British gay community and those defending what they saw as a threat to their family values, Kirkup was a teenage sex worker, a wartime conscientious objector, and a poet and translator with a long-term interest in Japan. Throughout his life, he published multiple autobiographies, poetry collections, multiple plays, several books on Japan and a novel. He fell in love and had affairs with men and women and, perhaps most notably, himself.

In this lecture, Mark will explore Kirkup’s life and writings with the aim of ‘thinking queer’ (to use Matt Houlbrook’s term) about the past.

Mark Pendleton is a social and cultural historian and Lecturer in Japanese Studies in the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield. His recent publications include the edited collection After Homosexual: The Legacies of Gay Liberation (UWA Publishing, 2013) and chapters in the Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia and Death Tourism: Disaster Sites as Recreational Landscape (both 2014). He is also an editor of History Workshop Journal and History Workshop Online.

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Author: Hidden Perspectives

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

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