Home > Research > Researchers > Fiona Summers

Fiona Summers

Formerly at Lancaster University

Fiona Summers

Current Teaching


I convene SOCL 913: Gender, Sex and Bodies and co-convene SOCL 919: Research Projects in Practice, with akshay khanna.


I am convenor and lecturer for the Part 2 course Gender, Sexuality and Society (SOCL 208) with Lucy Suchman (second term). I also teach on the Part 1 Sociology course SOCL 101: Introduction to Sociology and on the second year course SOCL 201: Sociological Research Skills and Techniques

I previously taught on the Part 1 and Part 2 Major programmes in the Department of Media, Film and Cultural Studies and in the past have convened Part 1 Women's Studies (WS 101) and Sociology 314 Contemporary Feminist Theory. In addition I have taught on The Representation of Women in Film (SOC 331), Gender, Sexuality and Visual Representation (WS 203) and the MA course Feminist Cultural Theory and Practice (WS 403). I have been teaching at Lancaster since 2000.

Research Interests

My research interests are in visuality, feminist theory, phenomenology, spectatorship and the relation between representation and identity.

I am currently writing on photography and am organising a research seminar on Photography: Medium and Method with Rebecca Coleman (Department of Media, Film and Cultural Studies). Further information on this research event can be found here:http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/sociology/event/3289/

In my Ph.D thesis (2006), entitled Unanticipated Space: embodied encounters in contemporary visual culture, I examined different ways of articulating the relationship between viewing subjects and viewed objects in order to reconceptualise encounters between viewers and images as they take place in the context of changing gallery installation and exhibition arrangements. The project stages an encounter between a reconceptualisation of how contemporary art media engages with audiences in ways that are considered to be more intimate, proximate and immersive, and theories of vision which are able to account for a relationship between viewing subject and viewed object that is based on connection, or affinity, rather than separation. I engage critically with a number of different encounters with the image - both moving and still - in order to explore conceptualisations of embodied, shifting and intersubjective relationship between viewer and image. The thesis examines ways in which artists using mediums of film, video and photography foreground experiences of spectatorship for the viewer, that differ to those associated with mainstream media, demonstrating a range of possibilities for encountering audio-visual media and the experience of viewing video installation. I suggest that what brings together video installation art's differing addresses to the viewer is a self-conscious resistance to a notion of audience passivity and strategies to reduce the degree of separation between image and viewer that is associated with the consumption of mainstream media. The main fields of research the thesis draws on are film theory, phenomenology, performativity, feminist theory, video art theory and history, as well as work on interactivity, film spectatorship and gallery display. This theoretical discussion is developed through close textual analysis of instances of art installation, photography and video by Cindy Sherman, Cathy Sisler, Sam Taylor-Wood and Willie Doherty, which further animate questions within the project around surveillance, practices of representation and identity.

My PhD research was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through a Postgraduate Award.

Additional Information


Summers, Fiona (2010) 'Movement as a strategy to destabilise normativity: Cathy Sisler's Aberrant Motion' in Feminist Theory, Vol. 11(1): 25-40.

Summers, Fiona (2010, forthcoming) 'On Photography', in Heywood, Ian and Sandywell, Barry (eds)Handbook of Visual Culture, Oxford: Berg