Bangor academic to chair research seminar with paper on sick and ugly bodies in and beyond Lady Gaga
The seminar ‘Gender and Sexual Health: Literary, Historical, and Cultural Comparisons’ will be held at the American Comparative Literature Association annual meeting this March 29th – April 1st at Brown University, USA . Mattia Marino, Tutor of Italian and European History at Bangor University’s School of Modern Languages and 2011 Visiting Fellow at the University of London’s Institute for Germanic and Romance Studies, will chair one session of this event, where he will present a groundbreaking paper on sick and ugly bodies in and beyond the Italian American pop performer Lady Gaga.
His research shows for the first time the links between images of sick and ugly bodies in recent European literature and American music videos. This follows up on his recent involvement in a project on Italian political cinema co-funded by the Australian and the British Arts and Humanities Research Councils. He organized the seminar at Brown University together with Prof. William Spurlin (Brunel University) and Tegan Zimmermann (University of Alberta). The seminar will feature papers ranging from safe sex comics and satanic body art, to Chinese folktales on sexual subversion.
His main findings are the new meaning of disgust as a way not to discriminate against, but rather to identify with different bodies, and the use of monstrous bodies as a tool of emancipation for the disabled, women, non-recognized families and sexualities, and ethnic minorities. Methods used include discourse and cultural analysis, in an interdisciplinary comparison of artworks through social theory and historical evidence.
Mattia Marino says: “This seminar shows ways to attach meaning to bodies which are morally and medically classified as unfit. Health and socio-political issues are amply explored.”
These findings run counter insisting attention paid to works like Lady Gaga's as unique or confined to popular culture, and the Italian American critic Camille Paglia's demeaning remarks about images of unattractive bodies in artworks. By contrast, his research shows a wider setting and frame to understand disgust in select French, Italian, and German novels and American music videos. Ordinary people identify a lot with Lady Gaga's appeal to diversity and his research shows historical, social, and literary links to engage with and widen understanding of her and other works featuring sick and ugly bodies.
Publication date: 22 February 2012