Kay Harrison

Kay Harrison

PhD Candidate
Arts, Design & Architecture
School of the Arts & Media

Supervisors: Brigitta Olubas, Christopher Kremmer

Kay Harrison is a writer who works across features, branding and digital. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, Overland, Brittle Star, Star Observer, Seizure, and other publications. Her work has been selected for the QWC/Hachette Australia Manuscript Development Program, a Varuna Fellowship, and shortlisted for the Richell Prize, and other awards.

I'm a creative practice PhD candidate in SAM. My project, Sexy motherfuckers: writing the queer body in the burbs, asks how queer representations in Australian female and non-binary authorship since 1980 reimagine the female body. The critical need to expand gendered narratives beyond heteronormative constraints drives both creative practice and dissertation.

The creative practice – a novel about queer thirty-somethings in the turbulent Rudd/Gillard years – challenges heteronormative success narratives and queers the ‘female’ body through disease and m/otherhood. The dissertation, following queer feminist studies scholar Gayatri Gopinath, stages “collisions and encounters” between four critically under-read novels to “perform new histories” of the body in space (Australian suburbia) and time.

The project draws on contemporary queer and feminist theories to trace the ‘female’ body through Australia’s literary suburbs: notably Gopinath’s analysis of aesthetic practices as a means to ‘care for’ the past; Sam McBean’s location of queer (anti-teleological and anti-generational) temporalities in feminism; and Jack Halberstam’s “shadow feminisms” that engage failure to de/camp the “punishing norms that discipline behaviour and manage human development”.

Both dissertation and creative practice operate as speech acts in the face of entrenched systemic sequestration, promoting the continued uncloseting of the ‘female’ and ‘other’. An act of queer curation, with caretaking at its core, they prioritise “the regional, the personal, the affective, the everyday”.