Lisa Downing is an author and academic, who is currently Professor of French Discourses of Sexuality at the University of Birmingham, UK.
Lisa’s writing is deliberately at odds with the ideas of disciplinary limitation and narrow specialization. In all of her books and articles, she brings together a sensitivity to language, acquired during her background training in literary theory, an indefatigable critical interest in questions of social power and cultural codes of “normality” and “abnormality”, and a close attention to historical context.
Her publications treat challenging topics such as sexual perversion (her doctoral thesis, which became her first book, was about necrophilia), the ethics of explicit sexual and violent spectacle, and the gendered figure of the murderer in modern Western society. She is particularly interested in the ideas of philosopher Michel Foucault (having written a popular introduction to his work for Cambridge University Press in 2008 and having recently edited a new collection, also for CUP, entitled After Foucault, 2018), and in the intersections between various strands of feminism and queer theory.
Lisa’s 2015 book Fuckology: Critical Essays on John Money’s Diagnostic Concepts (co-authored with Iain Morland and Nikki Sullivan) offers a theoretically varied and innovative account of the controversial US sexologist’s work, ideas, and legacy. She has recently finished writing a major monograph entitled Selfish Women, which will appear next year. You can read about Lisa’s early research for the book here and here.
In addition to publishing academic research, Lisa engages in broadcasting and public engagement. She writes opinion pieces for magazines and newspapers including, most recently, the Times Higher Education, and contributes to non-academic publications. She has occasionally been known to write fiction, and she blogs when time permits at Sex Critical. To relax, Lisa takes photographs of landscapes, the coast, and animals. Her photographs can be viewed at her online gallery here.