Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

Professor Ruth Holliday

Professor of Gender and Culture

I have been working at the Centre for Gender Studies since 2002, first as Director of Studies and then as Director until March 2011. I was made Professor in February 2008.

Before Gender Studies, I worked in Cultural Studies, Sociology, Business Studies, and, initially, electronics so interdisciplinarity is a key feature of my academic career!

Research Interests

My research interests are primarily located in contemporary cultural theories of gender, sexuality, class, the body and popular culture.

In particular, I am interested in the social and cultural uses of aesthetics and currently apply these themes to two substantive areas - 'elective' cosmetic surgery and material culture (especially kitsch).

In the past I have also carried out research on identities and sexualities, using visual methods (video diaries) to capture identity performances. This work focused on 'the body' as a site of identity, a mode of experience and as a conceptual category. I have also worked in the area of organisation studies, focusing on the ways in which gender, the body and representations offer us insights into the problems and challenges of organisational life.


I currently convene the following courses.

  • Theorising Gender
  • Researching Gender

And contribute to the following:

  • Contested Bodies
  • Gender and Popular Culture
  • Sociological Analysis of Contemporary Society (SACS)
  • Central Problems in Sociology

PhD Supervision

I am happy to supervise PhD students across a range of topics related to gender and the body, sexualities, popular culture, and material culture.

I have supervised students in the following areas:

  • Men and eating disorders
  • Feminist consciousness raising groups
  • Gender relations in the processes of migration from Zimbabwe
  • The myth of the ‘elective’ caesarian
  • Gender and ‘everyday environmentalism
  • National identity and gender in Thailand
  • Transgender politics and aesthetics
  • Gender Identity and Cosmetic Surgery
  • Women in Nigerian film
  • Gendering lifestyle TV
  • Astronauts and the masculine subject
  • Men and pornography
  • Sexual harassment of nurses in Pakistan
  • Breast cancer in Egypt
  • Women in the military

Key Publications

Authored Books
  • Holliday, R and Potts, T(2012) Kitsch! Cultural Politics and Taste, Manchester University Press.
  • Bell, D.; Binnie, J.; Holliday, R.; Longhurst, R.; Peace, R. (2001) Pleasure Zones: Bodies, cities spaces, Syracuse University Press.
  • Holliday, R. (1995) Investigating Small Firms: Nice work? Routledge.
Edited Books
  • Holliday, R. & Hassard, J (eds) (2001) Contested Bodies, Routledge.
  • Holliday, R.; Hassard, J.; Willmott, H. (eds) (2000) Body and Organization, Sage.
Recent Articles and Book Chapters
  • Darren Langdridge, Paul Flowers, Brendan Gough and Ruth Holliday (2013) ‘On the biomedicalisation of the penis: the commodification of function and aesthetics’, International Journal of Men’s Health, 12 (2) forthcoming.
  • Ruth Holliday, David Bell, Kate Hardy, Emily Hunter, Meredith Jones, Elspeth Probyn and Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor, ‘Beautiful Face, Beautiful Place: Relational Geographies and Gender in Cosmetic Surgery Tourism Websites, Gender, Place and Culture, forthcoming 2013)
  • Ruth Holliday and Joanna Elfving-Hwang, Gender, Globalization and Aesthetic Surgery in South Korea, Body and Society, 2012 June 2012 18: 58-81. For full article please click here
  • David Bell, Ruth Holliday, Meredith Jones, Elspeth Probyn and Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor, ‘Bikinis and Bandages: An Itinerary for Cosmetic Surgery Tourism’, Tourist Studies 11 (2), 2011, 137-153. For full article please click here
  • Ruth Holliday and Allie Cairnie, 'Man made plastic: an alternative account of aesthetic surgery', Journal of Consumer Culture 7 (1), 2007, 57-78. For full article please click here
  • Ruth Holliday, ‘Gender and popular culture’, in Diane Richardson and Vicki Robinson (eds), Introducing Gender and Women’s Studies, Palgrave, 2007.
  • Ruth Holliday and Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor, 'Aesthetic surgery as false beauty', Feminist Theory 7 (2), 2006, 179-195. For full article please click here
  • Ruth Holliday, 'Home truths', in David Bell and Joanne Hollows (eds), Ordinary Lifestyles, Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 2005.
  • Ruth Holliday, 'Filming the closet: the role of video diaries in researching sexualities', American Behavioral Scientist 47 (12), 2004, 1597-1616. (Reprinted in Gregory Stanczak (ed), Visual Research Methods: Image, Society, and Representation, Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2006).
  • Ruth Holliday, 'Reflecting the self', in Caroline Knowles and Paul Sweetman (eds), Picturing the Social Landscape, London: Routledge, 2004.
  • Ruth Holliday, 'We've been framed: visualizing methodologies', Sociological Review 48 (4), 2001, 503-521.
  • David Bell and Ruth Holliday, 'Naked as nature intended', Body and Society 6 (3-4), 2000, 127-140. (Reprinted in Phil Macnaghten and John Urry (eds), Bodies of Nature, London: Sage, 2001; tranlated into Czech 'Nahy od Pnrody', Socialni Studia, vol 2, pp129-141, 2005). For full article please click here
  • Ruth Holliday, 'The comfort of identity', Sexualities 2 (4), 1999, 475-491. (Reprinted in Malcolm Barnard (ed), Fashion Theory, London, Routledge, 2007). For full article please click here
Grants Secured

With Elspeth Probyn, David Bell, Meredith Jones, Jackie Sanchez Taylor, ‘Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone: Aesthetic Surgery Tourism in the UK and Australia’, ESRC - £542k FEC, March 2011 – PI.  RES-062-23-2796

AHRC Collaborative Research Training Grant (with Gabriele Griffin) Research Training in Humanities Women’s and Gender Studies, £9840, Oct, 2007 – Co-I.

With Kathy Davis, Meredith Jones, Cressida Heyes, Elspeth Probyn and Beverley Skeggs, ‘Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone’, Submitted to Leeds Fund for International Collaborations - £6k, Feb 2007 - PI.

'Providing Excellence in research methods for Gender Studies' University of Leeds Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund - £1000, December 2006.

‘Building Capacity in Visual Research’ ESRC – £79,000, November 2006 - Co-I.

‘Public Performances Private Lives: Identity at Work Rest and Play’, ESRC, Award - £49,700, No. R000236657. Completed June 1999 - PI.

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