Dr Sarah Cefai

Staff details

Position Lecturer in Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Studies
Email s.cefai (@gold.ac.uk)
Dr Sarah Cefai

I am a feminist cultural studies scholar with a particular interest in affect studies vis-à-vis the academic and social epistemologies of feminism, queer theory and cultural studies. Within these epistemologies, my passion for academic study is motivated by questions of culture and social justice, and the possibilities of theory understood as an affective pursuit. I joined the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies in 2019, having taught previously in universities in the UK and Australia. I am currently working on two projects that investigate how processes of cultural politics, affective social forms, and the ordinary aesthetic textures of everyday life, assemble.

(1) Exit Wounds of Feminist Theory is a short form gathering of conceptual stories examining the ontologies of attachment that underpin feminist knowledge. If the exit wound is the mess made by the object as it leaves the body, Exit Wounds proposes that this is the story of the feminist subject, the story of the philosophy of femininity in the feminist poststructuralist moment, the story of exile from the feminist academy, and the story of the betrayal of Women’s Studies by Gender Studies. Exit Wounds takes up the challenge of thinking with and working upon these textures of feminism’s affective folds and residues, not only to see what is there as a proposition for feminist knowledge, but to consider how feminist theory survives its own consequences.

(2) Humiliation is a study of how humiliation has become a preeminent affective structure at home, work and play. Drawing on philosophy, sociology, and theory in media and cultural studies, my work on humiliation excavates the various social, cultural, technological and embodied dimensions of humiliation’s form and force within the everyday. Analysing examples of the cultural specificity of the mediation of humiliation that range from the TV workplace drama to the racialisation of debt within algorithmic capitalism, this work shows how humiliation shapes and is shaped by genre, social stratification, the ethical and moral imperatives of social belonging, and the media and communications data revolution in feeling. The first stage of my enquiry into humiliation can be found in New Media and Society (in press).

Image credit: Julien Martinez Leclerc / LCC



BA Media and Communications (programme convenor)

Contemporary Feminist Media Cultures (convenor)

Introduction to Media and Communications Theory (seminar leader)

Culture and Cultural Studies (seminar leader)

TV and After; Doing Cultural Studies; Gender, Affect and the Body; Moving Image and Spectatorship (contributing lecturer)

Areas of supervision

Sarah welcomes applications from prospective PhD candidates who are interested in developing projects in the following areas:

  • Affect studies
  • Cultural studies
  • Feminist and queer theory in the context of media cultures
  • Intimacy



Cefai, Sarah. 2019. Humiliation's Media Cultures: On the Power of the Social to Oblige Us. New Media & Society, ISSN 1461-4448

Cefai, Sarah. 2018. The Humiliation of 'Sex with Optimism': Fieldnotes from Tinder. Capacious: Journal for Emerging Affect Inquiry, 1(3), pp. 104-122.

Cefai, Sarah. 2018. Mediating affect in John Pilger’s Utopia: ‘the good life’ as a structure of whiteness. Cultural Studies, 32(1), pp. 126-148. ISSN 0950-2386

Cefai, Sarah and Couldry, Nick. 2017. Mediating the Presence of Others: Reconceptualising Co-Presence as Mediated Intimacy. European Journal of Cultural Studies, ISSN 1367-5494

Cefai, Sarah. 2017. Introduction: Mediating Affect. Cultural Studies, 32(1), pp. 1-17. ISSN 0950-2386

Cefai, Sarah. 2015. Policing Aboriginality in Aboriginal policing: cultural labour and policing policy. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2015(1), pp. 12-29. ISSN 0729-4352

Cefai, Sarah. 2015. Love’s lesbian refrain of feeling: “Bette and Tina” and the subversion of heterosexual affect. Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge(28),

Cefai, Sarah. 2014. The Lesbian Intimate: Capacities for Feeling in Convergent Media Contexts. Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, 11(1), pp. 237-253. ISSN 1749-8716

Cefai, Sarah. 2013. Cartographies of Belonging: The Marketisation of Desire through Media, Practice and Place. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 21(5), pp. 582-588. ISSN 0966-369X

Cefai, Sarah. 2013. Getting Emotional After Sex: Tendencies in Queer Studies. Somatechnics, 3(1), pp. 190-206. ISSN 2044-0138

Cefai, Sarah. 2011. Unhappy Families. Cultural Studies Review, 17(1), pp. 339-348. ISSN 1446-8123

Cefai, Sarah and Elena, Indelicato Maria. 2010. No Such Thing as Standard Beauty: Intersectionality and Embodied Feeling on America's Next Top Model. Outskirts: Feminisms Along the Edge, 24, ISSN 1445-0445

Cefai, Sarah. 2010. Up Close and Personal, But Not Close Enough. Cultural Studies Review, 16(1), pp. 273-278. ISSN 1446-8123

Cefai, Sarah. Feeling and the Production of Lesbian Space in The L Word. Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 21(5), pp. 650-665.

Book Section

Cefai, Sarah. 2020. Contemporary Feminist Media Cultures. In: Karen Ross, ed. The International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.

Cefai, Sarah. 2015. The Critical Feelings of Audre Lorde, from the Standpoint of an Academic Minor. In: Stella Bolaki and Sabine Broeck, eds. Audre Lorde's Transnational Legacies. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, pp. 193-206. ISBN 9781625341396

Cefai, Sarah. 2004. Navigating Silences, Disavowing Femininity and the Construction of Lesbian Identities. In: , ed. Geography and Gender Reconsidered. Women and Geography Study Group, pp. 108-117.

Conference or Workshop Item

Cefai, Sarah. 2011. 'The Racialisation of Feeling in the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal Australia: Anger and Aboriginal Contact with the Law'. In: Directions and Intersections: Proceedings of the 2011 Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association and Indigenous Studies Research Network Joint Conference. Surfers Paradise, Australia 7-9 December 2011.


Cefai, Sarah and Couldry, Nick. 2016. Analysing 'Media Lives': Time, Change and Dynamics of Media Literacy. Documentation. London School of Economics, London.