Katie Brady Barker

Katie Brady Barker

Department of Theology and Religion
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Resisting the strai(gh)t jacket: Queer-Straight theory and Biblical interpretation
Supervisor: Dr Deryn Guest
PhD Theology and Religion


Katie began her studies at The University of Birmingham in 2009, in Joint Hons. English Literature and Theology. In 2012 she began an MRes degree in Theology, under the supervision of Dr. Deryn Guest. In January 2014 she was upgraded through transfer of status panel to PhD, meaning she will complete her PhD in two years.

Her current research is an interdisciplinary study combining feminist and queer biblical hermeneutics, using methodology from the critical studies of masculinities, the anthropological studies of ancient near eastern culture, in a triangulation informed above all by queer theory. The idea for this research developed during time studying at the University of Birmingham for a BA in English Literature and Theology, whereby literary theories concerned with gender intertwined with contemporary biblical hermeneutics. Throughout her research degree, and after work on feminist and queer biblical studies, it became clear that both methodologies, while informing her research, had significant gaps which alone they could not deal with, notably in the study of the heterosexual as a visible gendered category and sexuality.

Katie argues that the straight or heterosexual be included in the queer milieu, and when applied to Biblical texts, which have been used to support a restrictive heteronormative identity, be queered. What would it mean for straights to engage in the queer debate on more than a theoretical level, and question the ideological functions of heteronormative regimes in both contemporary culture and in application to the Hebrew Bible? For a long time, heterosexuals have arguably had the political luxury of not having to confront their sexuality, in the same way as others (LGBTIA/Q), which are always contrasted with and defined against, the straight. Just as the Bible has been wielded as a tool of oppression against the LGBTIA/Q community, the norms of heterosexuality deriving from the Bible, have also imprisoned the straight, regulating their gendered behaviour. By subverting heterosexual norms deriving from the Hebrew Bible, straight identity is brought to the forefront of gendered biblical criticism, challenged, and long stranding assumptions turned on their head. While there have been recent studies on the straight subject in cultural studies and critical theory, notably Thomas’, Straight With a Twist (1999), there is no publication that deals with queer-straight biblical hermeneutics, making this research innovative and the first of its kind.

Having a largely interdisciplinary background focused around the theme of sexuality and gender, Katie has conducted extensive research in other areas in relation to gender and sexuality. These include Rape and Warfare, historical and contemporary; Rape and Consent; Thealogy and the Goddess; The History of Sexuality, notably in relation to sexology and subsequent novels of the time including Hall’s The Well of Loneliness; Early Modern Women’s Writing and New Age and Contemporary Spiritualities.