Jonathan Dean’s recent academic book Rethinking Contemporary Feminist Politics analyses the state of contemporary feminism in the UK, and uses The F-Word as a case study. Catherine Redfern invited him to explain more about his findings
Hi Jonathan. Please can you summarise a bit about your academic background and how you came to write this book?
I’m a junior academic with a background in political theory, but have also taught sociology and gender studies. My book is based largely on research for my PhD, which I carried out in the politics department at the University of Essex from 2004-2007. However, it’s been reworked quite significantly as a book demands an altogether different style of writing to that required for a PhD thesis and of course, with the feminist scene changing so quickly, my PhD very soon became out of date! The book was mostly written during the first half of 2009, during which time I was lucky enough to have a one-year research post at the Gender Institute at the London School of Economics.
During 2009-2010 I’ve been back at Essex teaching political theory, and I’ve just been appointed to a lecturing post in political theory at the University of Leeds. This comes after a long and frankly difficult period of job hunting and unemployment. I suspect, though obviously can’t prove, that my decision to specialise in gender/feminism, rather than a more desirous area like security studies or political economy, may have worked against me! That said, temporary posts and periods of unemployment are becoming the norm for many academics, given the current higher education funding situation.
Whilst I’m at Leeds, I’ll be lecturing to undergraduate and post-graduate politics students, but I also intend to write an article about the current resurgence of feminism in the UK – bringing things up to date – and start a new research project which explores the different ways in which the radical politics of the late 1960s and early ’70s (including the gay liberation movement, feminism, the struggle for black emancipation, the student movement, etc) are represented in contemporary academic and popular writing.