Smalltown Boys and Country Girls: Gender and Sexuality within the Rural Idyll

 28th May 2019 10:00 - 16:30

University of Lincoln, Sarah Swift Building room SSB0103

A call for papers for a one-day symposium on 28th May exploring emerging research into gender, sexuality and relationships within rural communities.

Call for papers and posters:

This one-day event seeks to draw together postgraduate and early career researchers interested in in topics related to gender, sexuality and relationships within rural communities. Proposals for 20-minute papers are invited on any aspect of the theme. The following is a list of indicative topics, but is by no means prescriptive or exhaustive:

  • Gender within the village pub, church, cricket club or other rural institutions
  • Dating and sex in the countryside
  • Rural masculinities, femininities and androgynies
  • Providing services for rural LGBTQI+ communities
  • Rural queer, trans and non-binary identities and experiences
  • Women’s experiences of rurality
  • The impact of the internet/social media
  • Gender and the rural economy
  • Rural domestic life
  • Intersections with age, race, disability, social class or faith

Submissions should include a 200-250 word outline of the paper and a brief biography of the presenter.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 22nd March 2019

We also invite submissions of posters featuring relevant research, to be displayed at the symposium

Please email submissions and enquires to Claire Markham at and Michael Toze at

Are you a Postgraduate or Early Career Researcher interested in topics related to gender, sexuality and relationships within rural communities.

Popular conceptualisations of the “rural idyll” often emphasise the importance of local tradition, both in terms of traditional rural institutions and activities – such as the pub, the church, and local sporting and social groups – and in terms of traditional values (Halfacree, 1995). This emphasis upon tradition can mean that rural communities are often also perceived to uphold conservative notions of gender, sexuality and family. However, despite the popular perception of an association between rurality and gender norms, academic analysis remains underdeveloped (Little, 2017).

Within queer studies, there has been a tendency to assume that LGBTQI+ populations will migrate away from the countryside in favour of metropolitan spaces. As a consequence, analysis of queer politics and queer lives has often focused upon urban populations, with relatively little discussion of rural experiences (Brown, 2012; Jones et al, 2013).

The nature of rural communities has changed in recent decades. Traditional institutions such as the pub and the church often face challenges around declining footfall. Some rural communities have seen an influx of more affluent commuters, ‘second homers’ and recent retirees, potentially displacing established village families. Other areas may experience problems of rural poverty, exacerbated by poor transport links and remoteness from services. At the same time, rurality can also be seen as allowing for closer community ties, while technology may offer new opportunities to overcome some of the challenges of geographic dispersal for young people, queer people and other rural populations looking to form relationships and develop community.

This regional symposium will bring together interdisciplinary scholars with an interest in topics related to gender, sexuality and relationships within rural communities.

Draft programme:

10.00 -  Arrival/registration over tea and coffee

10.30 – Welcome and introductions

10.40 – Key note 1 – Dr Laura Fenton, University of Manchester

11.40 – Session 1 (3 papers x 20 mins, 10 mins q and a)

12:50 – Lunch/networking (posters)

13.50 – Key note 2 – Dr Catherine Armstrong, Loughborough University

14.50 – Comfort break

15:00 – Session 2 (3 papers x 20 mins, 10 mins q and a)

16:10  - 16:30 – Concluding remarks and informal get together

Venue and directions

The event will take place at the University of Lincoln Sarah Swift building. This is a 5-10 minute flat walk from Lincoln central railway station. Exit the train station via the main exit and turn left. At the level crossing, turn left again (there is a wheelchair-accessible bridge if the barriers are down). Turn right at St Mark’s Street (junction with Tesco Express on the corner). Turn right into the small courtyard opposite Debenhams and the entrance to the Sarah Swift Building is immediately in front of you.

The event will be taking place in rooms SSB0102 and SSB0103, which are on the ground floor and have flat access. These can be found down the corridor to the right of the building entrance.

There are wheelchair-accessible visitor parking spaces immediately next to the Sarah Swift building: please contact the organisers as early as possible to ensure these are reserved for those who require them. It may be possible to arrange for other visitor parking on campus on request, but this cannot be guaranteed. The High Street and St Marks public pay and display car parks are both within 5 minutes’ walk of the venue.