Edwin Coomasaru - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Edwin Coomasaru

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Edwin Coomasaru

Research Forum Administrative Assistant; PhD student

Contested Bodies: Gender, Sexuality and the Legacies of the ‘Troubles’ in Visual Culture
Supervised by Prof. Mignon Nixon
Funded by CHASE/AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

My research is a feminist-pacifist-queer studies analysis of recent artistic representations of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ (1969-98), including work by Steve McQueen, Maeve Murphy, Malcolm Craig Gilbert, Willie Doherty, Ursula Burke, Stuart Griffiths, Mariah Garnett, Mary McIntyre and Rita Duffy. The project considers how hegemonic constructions of gender were propagated by Republican, Loyalist and British forces at the beginning of the conflict in order to cultivate a militaristic climate: notions of soldierly self-sacrificial men, defenders of their (female) nation and its women, whose domestic-bound duty involved mothering future fighters. My work examines how such conservative ideals were shattered by the very consequences of the conflict: men suffered trauma and bodily damage, women became activists and paramilitaries. My study questions whether these shifts in gendered norms contributed to bringing the ‘Troubles’ to an end, and what this might mean for thinking about the relationship between masculinity and war.

Education

  • PhD Candidate, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2014-present)
  • History of Art MA, University College London (2012-13, Distinction)
    • Dissertation on the representation of Northern Irish masculinities in Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008).
  • English and Art History BA, University of Sussex (2009-12, First Class Honours, Art History Prize)
    • Dissertation on Irish masculinity between 1916-39 in the work of Seán Keating, Sean O’Faolain and Flann O’Brien.

Teaching

  • MA Core Methodology Course (Autumn 2017), The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • MA Core Methodology Course (Autumn 2015), The Courtauld Institute of Art.
  • Art and Politics, 1979-Present (Autumn 2015), University of Sussex.
  • Art after 1945 (Autumn 2015), University of Sussex.

Research interests

  • Northern Ireland
  • Britain
  • Gender
  • War
  • Nationalism
  • Imperialism
  • Sexuality
  • Queer studies
  • Pacifism
  • Feminism
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Post-conflict
  • Contemporary art

Other academic activity

  • Adobe InDesign training, Media Training Ltd (2018)
  • Admin Assistant, The Sackler Research Forum (2017-present)
  • Co-founder, Gender, Sexuality and Violence Research Network (2016-present)
  • Curatorial Placement, Ulster Museum (2016)
  • Oral History training, British Library (2015)
  • Public Speaking training, City Academy (2015)
  • Student Advisory Group, CHASE (2014-2015)
  • Curatorial Trainee, Brighton Photo Fringe (2014)
  • Director, International New Media Gallery (2012-present)

Recent publications

Articles

Conference papers

  • ‘Is the Museum of London Fatberg a Metaphor for Brexit?’, ResFest, The Courtauld Institute of Art (25/4/2018).
  • ‘The Sexual Politics of ‘Peace’: Heterosexuality and Masculinity in Dudi Appleton’s The Most Fertile Man in Ireland (1999)’, Agreement 20, Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester (7/4/2018).
  • ‘Gendering the 2017 UK General Election: Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Digital Culture’, Association for Art History 2018, The Courtauld Institute of Art / King’s College London (5/4/2018).
  • ‘Handmaidens to Feminist Fists: Unruly Arms and Maeve Murphy’s Silent Grace (2001)’, Irish Prisons: Perspectives on the History and Representation of Irish Forms of Containment, Crumlin Road Goal, Belfast (27/10/2017).
  • ‘The Politics of Semen and the Northern Irish Peace Process: Dudi Appleton’s The Most Fertile Man in Ireland (1999) and Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008)’, Fluid Physicalities, Birkbeck, University of London (10/3/2017).
  • ‘Untameable Beasts: Gendered Representations of Nonhumans and the Northern Irish Peace Process’, Art and the Environment in Britain, 1700 to Today, Rennes 2 University (3/3/2017).
  • ‘Containment and Contagion: Re-thinking Trump’s Wall/Wound’, Masculinity in the Time of Trump: A Feminist Response to Wounding and Victimhood, The Courtauld Institute of Art (26/1/2017).
  • ‘Uncontrollable Intimacies: Masculinity, Masturbation and the Erotics of Violence in Northern Ireland’, Precarious Subjects, Trinity College Dublin (10/6/2016).
  • ”Democratising’ Curating: Speed, Sexuality, Selfies’, 22nd International Symposium on Electronic Art, City University of Hong Kong (18/5/2016).
  • ‘Bursting Bodies, Shattering Selves: Northern Irish (Post-)Conflict Masculinities in Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008)’, Art and Conflict, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (1/5/2015).

Interviews

Documentary Film

Editorial work

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