Dr Sarah Cefai

Staff details

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

Dr Sarah Cefai joined the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies in 2019. Sarah is a Lecturer in Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Studies, specialising in affect studies vis-à-vis the critical and social epistemologies of feminism, queer theory and cultural studies. Prior to Goldsmiths, Sarah taught at the London College of Communication (UAL) (2017-18), the University of Surrey (2016-17) and the London School of Economics (2014-16). Sarah’s research concerns the relations between cultural politics, affective social forms, and the ordinary aesthetic textures of everyday life. Sarah is a neurodiverse scholar.

Sarah’s current research projects investigate separately and in relation the affective structures of cultural feminism and humiliation. Drawing on the experience of being an intermittent student and teacher of feminist theory over the course of 20 years, Sarah’s first manuscript Exit Wounds of Feminist Theory will be a short-form enquiry into the pedagogy of attachment that underlies feminist theory. Taking up the metaphor of the exit wound—the mess made by the object leaving the body—Exit Wounds reconsiders formative questions of feminist epistemology via a transversal exposition of the conceptual and affective forms of feminist thinking-feeling that accrue in specific cultural sites. Exit Wounds folds the outside of feminism’s affective residues into an account of feminism’s various lived embodiments and temporalities.

Sarah’s first monograph in preparation seeks to explain how humiliation has become a preeminent affective structure at home, work and play. Drawing on philosophy, social science, media and cultural studies, Humiliation excavates the various social, cultural, technological and embodied dimensions of humiliation’s form and force within the everyday. Analysing examples that range from the TV crime drama series to digital media feminisms, 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. Sarah's initial work on humiliation is forthcoming in New Media & Society.

Image credit: Julien Martinez Leclerc / LCC


Sarah contributes to the MA Gender, Media & Culture core module ‘Gender, Affect and the Body’. She also supervises dissertations on a range of MA programmes in Media, Communications and Cultural Studies.

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. 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. 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.