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Performing Periods: Challenging Menstrual Normativity through Art Practice

Hughes, B (2020) Performing Periods: Challenging Menstrual Normativity through Art Practice. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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This practice-led research explores the visual culture of menstruation from an interdisciplinary perspective rooted in art practice and autoethnographic reflection. The thesis aims to interrogate notions of menstrual normativity in anglophone culture, centring on, but not limited to art in the Global North. These notions are informed and reinforced through everyday beliefs, medical authority, advertising and representations of menstruation in art. With reference to art historical, sociological, political / cultural context and my own art and curatorial practice, I propose that menstrual art can be a powerful medium to re-frame academic, medical and everyday discussions about menstruation by revealing varied experiences of menstruation. The practical element of this work employs an interdisciplinary queered practice-led research approach to explore and critique themes including subjectivity, agency, ritual and performance in embodied experience, essentialist conceptions of gender, and the intersection of medical knowledge with everyday life. The art practice discussed in Volume One, and documented in Volume Two, develops artistic methods to critically examine the everyday embodied experience of menstruating through performative works which combine everyday practices with the feminist tradition of self-examination. Works in poetry and sound explore ritual and repetition encountered through medical advice, considering how these now common sites of medical authority form part of the everyday experience of medicine. In linking research to practice explicitly throughout the thesis, this research contributes unique insights to the fields of practice-led research, art and cultural studies, critical menstruation studies and the critical medical humanities. Through considering the role of online medical advice in shaping contemporary attitudes towards menstruation this research aims to expand the site of clinical encounter, as conceptualised in the critical medical humanities, to include everyday and individual engagement with medical authority and ideas in the online sphere. Through thematic analysis of multiple case studies this thesis presents a ‘queering’ of historic and contemporary menstrual art since 1970, and of contemporary menstrual norms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: menstruation; menstrual normativity; nonbinary; body art; queered practice-led research
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Humanities & Social Science
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2020 11:45
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2022 13:56
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00013709
Supervisors: Hassan, N, Fallows, C and Lincoln, S
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13709
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