TaPRA 2023, Bodies and Performance Working Group: Critical Hunk and Babe Studies II: Babes and Hunks in Performance

Deadline: Tuesday 11 April 2023

Bodies and Performance Working Group
Critical Hunk and Babe Studies II: Babes and Hunks in Performance
TaPRA 2023, 30 August – 1 September, The University of Leeds

Critical Hunk and Babe Studies returns… and we’ve been bulking and buffing! Following our working group event in which we shared our bits (of stuff), we invite you to a beefed-up, manicured and contoured conference experience with curves in all the right (and deliciously wrong) places.

We ask you to re-imagine with us the critical and cultural significance of hunks and babes. In so doing, we offer a saucy wink to: adrienne maree brown; Legacy Russell; Patrick Johnson; She-Hulk; Sarah Gorman; Marilyn Monroe; Jack Halberstam; Aria. S. Halliday; Amelia Jones; Travis Alabanza; José Esteban Muñoz; Pamela Anderson; Mme Bourgeoise Noire; Arnold Schwarzenegger; Kolar Venkatesh Iyer; Broderick Chow; She-Ra; Rachel Hahn; Tom of Finland; Bettie Page; Eugen Sandow; Niall Richardson; Mae West; Rebecca Schneider; Nicki Minaj; Midgitte Bardot; Sigourney Weaver; He-Man; Uri McMillan; Sin Wai Kin; Paul B. Preciado; ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar; Linda Hamilton; Barbie; Ken; the lycra-ed, leg-warmered, sweating, pumping, oiled, permed, and crimped 1980s (we invite you all to stretch and flex this teaser list even further). We are also inspired by Kareem Khubchandani’s framing of a Critical Aunty Studies, which asks ‘How can thinking with aunty offer forms, structures, and aesthetics to make sense of lived conditions and to create alternative sociopolitical ecologies?’ (2022: 223). Following these alternative socio-political ecologies, we posit that the concept, role, label or quality of babeness and hunkness can offer a heightening of gender expression that is profoundly transgressive, even as it appears to reinforce a status quo. However, we also acknowledge that a positioning of hunkness and babeness is not necessarily dependent on a self-aware burlesquing of identity–indeed, these roles might be argued to be inherently sincere and unironic states of being.

During this event, we are keen to explore how Critical Hunk and Babe Studies might re-examine the potential of hunks and babes to shed new light on matters of gender, sexuality, race, age, disability and class through the lens of hunkness and babeness in cultural production. How might a Critical Hunk and Babe Studies, or hunks and babes themselves, work to unmake the fixed and restrictive assumptions which prop (and pump) them up? This feels particularly urgent in a time in which the boundaries of gender and sexuality are being regressively policed and punished. Possible areas for consideration or exploration around the hunk or babe might include, but are not limited to:

  • The critical / radical / transgressive potential of the babe or hunk
  • Hyper femininities and masculinities
  • Drag practices and states
  • Artists/ individuals exploring states of babeness and hunkness
  • (Re)positioning historical figures as hunks and babes
  • Historical shifts in perception around the hunk and babe
  • Queering the hunk and the babe
  • Disability activism and the hunk and the babe
  • Racialised and orientalist characteristics of hunk/babe dichotomy
  • Class-based framings of the hunk and the babe
  • Positioning of the hunk or babe as a consumed product and/or resistance to being consumed
  • Babes and hunks who enable or disrupt one another’s babe and hunkness
  • Support and rivalry between hunks and babes
  • Babe or hunk as insider or outsider within a community
  • Ageing positioning or defying infantilism
  • Disrupting expectations/ behaviours associated with those roles
  • ‘Hunk of junk’, hunk of meat, Babe/Baby/ Baby Doll/bae/boo – terminology associated with hunks and babes
  • Voices and tones associated with the hunk and babe
  • ‘Don’t call me babe’ – rejection, reclamation, self-reclamation of the labels, ‘hunk’ and ‘babe’
  • Self-construction as a hunk or babe
  • Animal naming associated with hunks and babes – fox /foxy, chick, stud, stallion etc
  • Hair, shaving, waxing, smoothness
  • Materials (leather, denim etc), costumes, props, textures, kinks associated with the babe and hunk
  • Revealing, concealing, objectification, fetishisation of parts of the body
  • The muscularity/ exercise underpinning the hunk / babe
  • The labours / surgeries involved in developing babeness/hunkness
  • Embracing frivolity, lightness, lack of seriousness, pleasure and delight
  • Embodied choreographies (daily activities or theatrical) of the hunk or babe
  • Geographies and spaces associated with the hunk or babe (Houses, Cabarets, Balls, Gym, Boudoir)

We invite diverse modes of sharing research, including, but not limited to, provocations, practice demonstrations, performative presentations, formal papers, etc. Please indicate your preference of format clearly in your proposal, with a specific breakdown of any technical requirements. We will endeavour to accommodate all requests, but please be aware that we are working within finite resources and we may need to suggest alternative formats. Come join us in this deeply pleasurable and delightful exploration where we can all experience ourselves as hunks and babes of the bodymind. We welcome responses from all disciplinary perspectives and kinks.

Conference structure

The 2023 annual TaPRA conference at the University of Leeds will be a hybrid event, facilitating participation by online delegates alongside those attending in-person.

Since our conference in 2021, we have been able to experience many benefits of online conferencing, such as increased opportunity for international presenters, lower financial costs to participate, greater accessibility for those with caring responsibilities etc. The 2023 conference at Leeds aims to retain the wider opportunities for engagement that online platforms offer, whilst also creating a space for in-person engagement and social interaction.

In the event of a cancellation of in-person conference activities due to, for instance, COVID restrictions, the event would run entirely online and all registered in person delegates would be offered the opportunity to attend as online delegates, with the difference between in-person and online registration fees refunded.

Process for submitting a proposal

Please email abstracts (no more than 300 words in length), and an additional few sentences of biographical information to the Working Group Convenors at bodiesandperf@tapra.org by 23.59 on 11 April 2023.

IMPORTANT: Please indicate at the point of submission if you intend to attend the conference in person or online. This information is vital so that the conference organisers can effectively plan the infrastructure for the event and Working Group Convenors can schedule panel sessions effectively.

You should also indicate if you have any specific requirements relating to space or AV technology as part of this submission.

Please note: You may only submit a proposal to one working group (or else the PaR Gallery) for this conference, proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered. You can, however, include an optional second choice of Working Group (this can also include the TaPRA Gallery, where appropriate). If we are unable to accept your proposal, we will then pass it on to your second choice for consideration. Your proposal will not be less likely to be accepted by our Working Group if you indicate a second choice.


Working Group Convenors will inform you whether or not your proposal has been accepted as quickly as possible and by no later than 3 May 2023. Convenors will offer brief summary feedback to all proposals that could not be accommodated. ​​Please note that putting together a full draft schedule for the conference is a complex process, particularly as all sessions will need to be accessible to delegates attending in person and online. Therefore, your patience while this process is ongoing, and prompt responses to acceptances, are much appreciated. Convenors will have completed their draft schedules by the end of May 2023.

Conference costs

The early bird registration fee will be:

£220 standard in person attendance
£120 concession in person attendance
£88 standard online attendance
£48 online concession online attendance

Prices will increase to the following after 23 June 2023:
£250 standard in person attendance
£150 concession in person attendance
£100 online attendance
£60 online concession attendance

All of the above conference fees include TaPRA membership for one year (£35 standard / £17 concession) starting 30 August 2023.

​On-campus ​conference accommodation will cost £58 per night.

Please note: All presenters must be registered for the conference by 14 July 2023; this includes those presenting online.

If you have registered for in person attendance and find yourself unable to attend you will be able to access the conference as an online delegate but will not be eligible for a refund.

Concession definition: Concession rates apply to all postgraduate researchers, unwaged, unaffiliated, and retired researchers, and staff on contracts of either less than 0.6FTE or else fixed for less than 12 months. These categories apply to the attendee’s circumstances on the first day of the conference.


These financial awards support presenters who are postgraduate researchers or unaffiliated/contingent faculty. One award is available for each working group (14 total). Awards can support individuals or teams (i.e., co-presenters). The awards cover:
  • Conference fee waiver;
  • One-year TaPRA membership; and
  • Access to a discretionary fund (maximum £300 per award*) to cover expenses and access costs, such as: travel; accommodation; sustenance; digital access; childcare etc.

These awards are highly competitive and we encourage everyone who is able to secure institutional support where possible. Applications for bursaries must be made at the same time you submit your proposal to the Working Group. This must be within the same document as your abstract/bio.

If applying for a bursary, please include the following:

  • Whether you are applying as a postgraduate or unaffiliated/contingent faculty member;
  • Whether you are applying for an individual or joint award*;
  • A statement of up to 100 words explaining why you are applying for the bursary; and
  • An outline of any expenses/access needs for which you would like to apply to the discretionary fund – including details of expected costs.
Application criteria:
  • Quality and strength of the submitted abstract; and
  • Strategic case made by the WG convenors outlining the significance of the applicant’s contribution to the WG sessions (connection to advertised theme, methodological approach, expected outcomes).

Conveners in each working group will consider applications according to the criteria above and will nominate one application to put forward for a bursary. Final decisions about awards, including requests for expenses and access costs, will be made by the TaPRA Executive Committee by 12 May. Notifications will be issued shortly thereafter.

* The discretionary fund of £300 is available per award, whether the application is to support an individual or a team. I.e., an award made to a team of two presenters means they have access to £300 between them, not each.

TaPRA at the University of Leeds

TaPRA 2023 will be held at the University of Leeds, 30 August – 1 September. The conference will take place on the university campus, with working group sessions and keynote talks held in the Michael Sadler Building, named after a notable figure in the history of modern art in Britain. The main plenary will take place in live streaming enabled Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, with additional sessions taking place in breakout rooms across the grade II listed, art deco Parkinson building. Performances will make use of a variety of dedicated performance spaces including the Workshop Theatre, Banham Theatre and stage@leeds.

The conference dinner will be held in The Refectory, a beautiful contemporary venue at the heart of the main campus famous for its musical history. The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Bob Marley have all graced this venue with their presence and perhaps one of the most famous live recordings ever made, The Who Live at Leeds, was recorded here.

On campus accommodation is available during the conference at our flagship residence, Storm Jameson Court. Offering a 24 hour reception and access to a large social space this is an ideal place to stay. Guests of Storm Jameson are also able to make use of the on campus gym and pool facilities at the recently renovated Edge Gym.

Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for a TaPRA event. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Participation. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the event venue.

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