Healing Disruption: Symposium

Dr Maziyar Ghiabi has announced the proceedings of a two-day symposium titled ‘Healing Disruption: Histories of Intoxication and ‘Addiction’. The symposium is to be held on 26th-27th January, 2023 at Reed Hall, Exeter University, UK. For more details please email m.ghiabi@exeter.ac.uk.

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Points Interview: Individuation and drinking culture among young people with Henry Yeomans and Laura Fenton

Today’s post features an interview with Henry Yeomans, a Professor of Criminology at the University of Leeds and Laura Fenton, a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield. Their work focuses around contemporary alcohol culture and regulation in Europe.

The two, along with the University of Kent’s Adam Burgess, recently authored the article “‘More options…less time’ in the ‘Hustle Culture’ of ‘Generation Sensible’: Individualization and Drinking Decline Among 21st Century Young Adults,” which appeared in the British Journal of Sociology. Find out more about their work in this interview.

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Gay and Alcoholic: A Lost Autobiography

Robert Hutton’s Of Those Alone (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1958) may be the earliest memoir of a gay alcoholic writer.

I came upon the book’s existence serendipitously, while browsing the papers of Marty Mann at Syracuse University. Mann was the first woman to achieve sustained sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous and the founder of the National Council on Alcoholism in 1940. In a letter, Hutton thanked Mann for her help and revealed that he had portrayed her, thinly disguised, in his autobiography — as a character named Temeraire (an anagram of Mann’s nickname, Mart).

During the 1920s, when Hutton encountered Mann in London, she “was apt, when in her cups, to become belligerent and would have taken on and probably defeated Joe Louis.” When sober, by contrast, “she was a sagacious and amusing companion with a raffish insight into other people’s foibles.” Hutton also divulges that Temeraire “prefers women to men,” as did Mann herself, though she fiercely shielded her private life from public scrutiny.

Of Those Alone was written in the wake of the Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (1957) — familiarly known as the Wolfenden Report — which recommended that such acts, conducted in private between consulting adults, should no longer be proscribed or prosecuted. There was enormous controversy about these findings, and they did not take effect for a decade.

Published during the long interim, Of Those Alone decried the ignorance and intolerance of the British public. “The average individual,” states the dust jacket, “is baffled by something which appears to him to be both unnatural and vicious, and the tendency is for society to ostracise the offender.” The book, described as a “social document” as well as an “enthralling” human story, poses an issue for every “intelligent reader”: how much was the author a victim of “an outmoded and unimaginative legal ethical system, and how much was he himself to blame for the disasters which came upon him?” Hutton also takes up the prior question: whence homosexuality itself? Congenital or acquired? Destined by Nature or created by Nurture? Or both?

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Drinking Studies Showcase: Women and Online Alcohol Recovery Groups

This is the latest instalment to the Drinking Studies Showcase feature. Back in June, 2022, the ‘Women and Alcohol’ and ‘Sobriety, Abstinence and Moderation‘ DSN clusters hosted a joint lunchtime seminar. Dr Sally Sanger and Claire Davey provided short talks about their research on online alcohol recovery and sobriety groups. It’s a pleasure to be able to share the (edited) recording with you all.

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Drinking Studies Showcase: ‘Bright Lights’

Editor’s Note: This post is part of our new feature: Drinking Studies Showcase, where we spotlight the work of those within the Drinking Studies Network.

Laura Fenton, Claire Markham and Samantha Wilkinson answer my questions about their recently-published chapter ‘Bright Lights, No City: Investigating Young People’s Suburban and Rural Drinkscapes’ within edited volume “Youth Beyond the City” (Eds. David Farrugia and Signe Ravn).

For any readers interested in themes of youth culture, drinking practices, drinking spaces and places, and rural/urban cultures, this one’s for you.

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