Declan Kavanagh

Episode 126,  Nov 26, 2021, 05:46 PM

My guest this week is Declan Kavanagh, Senior Lecturer in 18th Century Studies in the School of English at the University of Kent. Declan’s specialism is in the area of poetry and political pamphlets from the period and how they address questions of masculinity, nationhood, gender, sexuality and disability. 

We talk about surviving lockdown and how it impacted on Declan personally, and about how he became interested in the history of arrangements of power around gayness, queerness and transness.

Declan talks about the rage but never any sense of shame over his sexuality, and he is not sure that as much ground has been won in recent decades as the legislative success of, say, same-sex marriage might suggest. There is, for example, still transphobia, and there are questions over whether feminism speaks for trans women.

He reflects on the toxic and restrictive notions of gender which are impacting on people and how, although trans people are everywhere, media representations to this end are not always helpful. We talk about Section 28 and the notion of queerness as being in flux.

Declan remembers watching breakfast TV as a child with the Spice Girls being interviewed, and we learn that he used to be into heavy metal and The Smiths. We also hear Declan’s reaction to me mentioning that Cilla Black supported the Tories, and he gives us his thoughts on cancel culture and why he thinks Morrissey is a racist and how we shouldn’t be afraid to call out racism.

Declan discusses how nostalgia comes from a sense of loss and uncriticality which is dangerous. The culture wars, he says, are about nostalgia, and he recalls people he knows who are stuck in their past. He says he has always been inclined to look towards the future.

Towards the end of the interview Declan reflects on what it felt like to be four, and we learn about friendships from over the years, and how he survived his schooldays, as well as why he is okay with people misrepresenting him.

Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Declan Kavanagh and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.