Jo Henderson-Merrygold

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Email: J.Henderson-merrygold@sheffield.ac.uk

Jo Henderson-Merrygold
PhD Candidate
Co-Director of Hidden Perspectives
Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies & School of English Literature
University of Sheffield

Peronal Website
Twitter: @Jo_H_M
LinkedIn

Thesis Title: From Suspicion to Cispicion: Developing a Genderqueer Hermeneutics.
Research Themes: Hebrew Bible, Genesis, queer theory, trans theory, Bible in contemporary society, LGBT+ studies

Biography

Jo returned to Higher Education in 2011 following a successful career working in community development and project management roles for various charities. She completed a BA(Hons) First Class and a MA with distinction in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds. While at Leeds, she also undertook Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship (UGRLS), supervised by Mel Prideaux, for which she won the RSA/Edward Boyle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research. Jo’s scholarship research focussed on the role of the Bible in contemporary society; a theme which drew her to SIIBS. Her current research also builds on her interest in the application of queer and gender theory to the way we read texts from the Hebrew Bible, especially in the construction of gender in contemporary society. This work builds on her MA dissertation, ‘Reading Jacob Genderqueerly: ‘patriarchal’ sex and gender performativity beyond the binary;’ a character she is revisiting in light of emerging trans and genderqueer theory.

Since arriving at Sheffield, Jo has been actively involved in SIIBS research, teaching, and public engagement. She co-directs Hidden Perspectives: Bringing the Bible out of the Closet and recently undertook the role of visiting researcher at the University of Auckland to support them in launching their Hidden Perspectives project in the Faculty of Arts. She also co-founded the Orange is the New Bible project, and hosted a research symposium in February 2016, which was shortlisted for the Sheffield Union Best Event Academic Award. Jo, a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, has guest lectured on queer theory, the Bible and television, and religious studies fieldwork, and has been graduate teaching assistant for Understanding the Old Testament, and LGBT+ Studies. She also co-supervises a Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) project, and managed two interns working on Hidden Perspectives in the UK and New Zealand from the English MA programme and serves as a PhD mentor and SIIBS student representative. Jo is committed to public research engagement, taking part in The Image Speaks 2017 exhibition, writing for The Conversation, and hosting widening participation events. Both inside and outside university Jo is a prolific knitter, and can generally be found with a ball or yarn or two and plenty of works in progress.

Hidden Perspectives in the UK and New Zealand from the English MA programme and serves as a PhD mentor and SIIBS student representative. Jo is committed to public research engagement, taking part in The Image Speaks 2017 exhibition, writing for The Conversation, and hosting widening participation events. Both inside and outside university Jo is a prolific knitter, and can generally be found with a ball or yarn or two and plenty of works in progress.

Research

Jo’s PhD is AHRC funded through WRoCAH, and her project uses and adapts queer theory and gender studies in order to propose a new hermeneutic for reading biblical narratives against an assumption that all characters are cisgender. That means the character is understood to have been only and always a single and fixed gender from their birth; it is the antonym of transgender. This is a hugely resonant and important piece of research as conservative discourses and discussions still make use of the Bible in rejecting trans or genderqueer lived experiences. Therefore, taking queer biblical studies away from a focus solely on sex and sexuality, this research asks readers to consider the ways we infer gender on to characters, and then reflect those back into contemporary life. The project has contemporary significance in light of the way discourses of gender and sex continue to rely on biblical imagery for their authority and validation. By confronting these associations, and offering an alternative which can offer potential liberation for those who don’t identify in line with fixed, narrow expectations of gender and sex. This project draws on the work of feminist and queer hermeneuts who highlighted the limitations of earlier reading strategies and invited critical consideration of which norms and structures remain unacknowledged in biblical scholarship.

Publications

Papers and Publications

2018 My Queer Research: Hidden Perspectives on Trans and Genderqueer Biblical Characters. Hidden Perspectives on LGBT History Month. University of Sheffield. February (TBC). (forthcoming)
2017 Through a Cispicious Lens: Genderqueering feminist biblical studies. European Association of Biblical Studies and Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting. 7-11 August. Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. 8 August. (forthcoming)
____ Wearing Biblical Heteronormativity. Talking Bodies, 19-22 April. University of Chester. 21 April.
2016 Developing a Hermeneutics of Cis-picion. Religion, Gender and Sexualities One-Day Conference. Aston University. 1 July.
____ Reading Jacob Genderqueerly: ‘patriarchal sex and gender performativity beyond the binary.’ Sheffield Institute of Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies Seminar, University of Sheffield. 7 March.
____ Reading Jacob Genderqueerly: ‘patriarchal sex and gender performativity beyond the binary.’ Society of Old Testament Studies: Winter Meeting. 4-6 January. Durham University. 5 January.
2015 Jacob, Esau, and Genderfuck in Genesis. Biblical Studies Conference. University of Leeds. 24 April.
____ Going on a Bible Hunt: A public object of religion and culture in Leeds. British Conference of Undergraduate Research. 20-21 April. University of Winchester. 20 April.
____ Our Students as Undergraduate Researcher and Leadership Scholars Workshop. Chair: N. Martin Clement. Student Education Conference 4. University of Leeds. 9 January.
2014 Prideaux, M. with J. Merrygold. Products of Student Learning: Community Religions Project @ Leeds. British Association for the Study of Religion (BASR) Annual Conference, Milton Keynes. 3-5 September. (poster and exhibition)
____ Going on a Bible Hunt: Religion in Leeds City Centre. and
____ Adams, S., E. Alexander, J. Merrygold et al. Work In Progress Poster Presentation: Religious Mapping of Chapeltown. Undergraduate Research Experience conference. University of Leeds. 9 February.
____ Prideaux, M. with J. Merrygold. Students as Experts Workshop. Student Education Conference 3. University of Leeds. 10 January.
2013 Prideaux, M. with J. Merrygold. What the Community Religions Project can tell us about the study of religious diversity in the UK. Critical Approaches to Religious Diversity Workshop. Aarhus University. 24 May.
____ Making Research Accessible: Designing the Community Religions Project Website. Paper and poster presentation. Undergraduate Research Experience Conference. 19 February.

Peer Reviewed Articles

2014 Prideaux, M., with J. Merrygold. What the Community Religions Project can tell us about the Study of Religious Diversity in the UK. DISKUS. 16 (3), pp.34-46.

Currently in preparation are journal articles on Lot’s wife in reception history, Genesis matriarchs in Orange is the New Bible, cisnormativity and the Bible, Genderqueering Jacob, and the Bible as an object of culture and religion in Leeds.

Other publications

2018 Queering the Christian Discourse of Gender Violence. In Blyth, C., E. Colgan, and K. Edwards (eds.). Gender Violence, Rape Culture, and Religion: Christian Perspectives. London: Palgrave MacMillan. (forthcoming)
2018 “GRAYBILL, RHIANNON, Are We Not Men? Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. xii + 187.” In Journal for the Study of the Study of the Old Testament. (forthcoming)
2017 “Lot’s Wife (Literature).” In Swindell, A. et al (eds). Encyclopedia on the Bible and its Reception. Berlin: De Gruyter. (forthcoming)
2017 Jo Henderson-Merrygold, review of Teresa J. Hornsby and Deryn Guest, Transgender, Intersex, and Biblical Interpretation, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org].
2016 “MEREDITH, CHRISTOPHER, Journeys in the Songscape: Space and the Song of Songs (Hebrew Bible Monographs, 53: Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013), pp. xii = 202” in Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 40 (5): 110-111
2014 Adams, S., E. Alexander, J. Merrygold, et al. Religious Mapping of Chapeltown: The complexity of community and identity in Chapeltown. Leeds: University of Leeds Community Religions Project (online).
2006 Ingham, H., J. Merrygold, L. Purcell, and S. Rudge (eds.). Reading the Bible: Approaching and Understanding Scripture. Birmingham: Student Christian Movement.
2006 Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Bible. In Ingham et al (eds.) Reading the Bible: Approaching and Understanding Scripture. Birmingham: Student Christian Movement.

Online Scholarship

2017 Tim Farron, the Bible and Queerness. History Matters: History brought alive by the University of Sheffield. 27 July.
2017 What do you believe in, Tim Farron? The Queerness. 21 June.
2017 Representation, self-disclosure and the role of the teacher in the study of religion. Religion in Public. 1 March.
2017 Hidden Perspectives Turns the World Upside Down. Hidden Perspectives. 23 February.
2016 How biblical double standards killed Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. The Conversation. 11 November.
2016 The Church’s Damning Edicts on Sexuality Challenges What it Means to be Human. William Temple Foundation. 9 September.
2016 Orange is the New Black can teach us a lot about religion. The Conversation. 17 June.
2016 4 More Seasons?! Orange is the New Bible. 27 April.
2016 Skerratt, L. and J. Merrygold. 7 Ways the Bible is like Orange is the New Black. Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies. 19 February.
2014 Re-reading the Bible in Public Life. William Temple Foundation. 29 October.

Invited Talks and Panels

2017 My Queer Research – Jo Henderson-Merrygold. Hidden Perspectives. University of Auckland, New Zealand. 17 March.
____ Hidden Perspectives and the Cispicious Bible. Auckland Rainbow Community Church. Auckland, New Zealand. 14 March.
2016 Religion, Identity, and Social Change (RISC) Panel member, ThinkCreate, University of Sheffield. 2 February.
2014 Living with the ‘Call the Midwife’ nuns. Manchester Rotary Breakfast Charter Night. Manchester. 31 October.
____ 35 Years of the Community Religions Project: Revisiting the Archives. First Prize Paper. Edward Boyle Bequest Lecture. RSA Yorkshire. York. 22 March.
2013 Professional Voices: Third Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility Panel chair. EXPO 13: Careers Showcase. Faculties of Arts and Performance, Visual Arts, and Communication. University of Leeds. 13 November.
2012 Professional Voices: Third Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility Panel member. EXPO 12: Careers Showcase. Faculties of Arts and Performance, Visual Arts, and Communication. University of Leeds. 14 November.
Public Engagement
2017 ‘Meet Jacob…’ The Image Speaks 2017: Collaborative Exhibition. Communication your PhD through photography. Jessop West Building. University of Sheffield. From 24 April.
2016 Genderqueering Sarah: Developing a hermeneutics of cis-picion. Festival of Arts and Humanities Showcase, Winter Gardens, Sheffield. 21 May.
____ Interview with Andy Crane about Orange is the New Bible. BBC Radio Sheffield Sunday Programme. 7 February.
2014 Adams, S., E. Alexander, J. Merrygold et al. Religious Mapping of Chapeltown Public Showcase. Roscoe Methodist Church, Leeds. 5 May.

Public Engagement

2017 ‘Meet Jacob…’ The Image Speaks 2017: Collaborative Exhibition. Communication your PhD through photography. Jessop West Building. University of Sheffield. From 24 April.
2016 Genderqueering Sarah: Developing a hermeneutics of cis-picion. Festival of Arts and Humanities Showcase, Winter Gardens, Sheffield. 21 May.
____ Interview with Andy Crane about Orange is the New Bible. BBC Radio Sheffield Sunday Programme. 7 February.
2014 Adams, S., E. Alexander, J. Merrygold et al. Religious Mapping of Chapeltown Public Showcase. Roscoe Methodist Church, Leeds. 5 May.

Teaching and Supervision

Graduate Teaching Assistant:

• Understanding the Old Testament (REL101)
• LGBT+ Studies (IPA 1010/2010)

Guest Lecturer:

• Bible and Popular Culture (REL114): Lucifer: Biblical Imagery and Ideological Criticism
• Gender, Religion and the Bible (REL276): Introduction to Queer Theory and Queer(y)ing the Bible
• LGBT+ Studies (IPA1010/2010): Introduction to Queer Theory and Out at Work panel discussion member
• Religion in Britain Today (REL1013): Religious Studies Fieldwork

Supervision:

• Second supervisor, with Hugh Pyper
Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) 2017: Catherine Kennedy
“Investigating andro- and hetero-centrism in Godly Play”
• MA Placement Supervisor: Hidden Perspectives UK and New Zealand
Language and Literature in the Workplace (EGH6025) and Work Placement with Research Essay (EGH623): Rachel Davies and Melanie Smiley

Jo became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (fHEA) in 2016, and was nominated for the Best Postgraduate who Teaches at the 2017 Sheffield Union Academic Awards. She also mentors PhD students and applicants for WRoCAH.

At the University of Leeds Jo was a student discussion group leader for Religion in Modern Britain (THEO1140), taught website development and social media as part of her work on the British Muslim Experiences of the Hajj and Community Religions Projects, and knitting and crochet for the Stitch’n Bitch society. In her previous career she delivered a wide range of training covering careers, community development, project management, team building and relationships, chaplaincy, religion on campus, and equality and diversity.

Academic Roles:

2017 Visiting Researcher, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland Project: Hidden Perspectives: Bringing the Arts and Humanities out of the closet
2016-present Co-director, Hidden Perspectives, University of Sheffield.

Research events hosted include:

• Hidden Perspectives on LGBT History Month, a series of public engagement activities including film night, reading group and research presentation, February 2018 (forthcoming)
• Hidden Perspectives World AIDS Day seminar: Daniel Nield (University of Chester). 4 December 2017 (forthcoming)
• Hidden Perspectives on Pop Culture: Celebrating Hidden Perspectives in Sheffield and Auckland. November 2017 (forthcoming)
• Hidden Perspectives Presents… World AIDS Day: Same Love: Kenyan Courage and Creativity for Same Sex Rights, Adriaan Van Klinken (University of Leeds). 5 December 2016.
• Hidden Perspectives Presents… Nancy Tan and Nechama Hadari. 10 May 2016.

2015-2017 Co-director, Orange is the New Bible Project, University of Sheffield:
• Orange is the New Bible Symposium, 19 February 2016.

2015-2017 Digital Monographs Series Editor, Community Religions Project, University of Leeds

2014-2015 Project assistant, Community Religions Project, University of Leeds.

2013-2015 Website Manager, British Muslim Experiences of the Hajj, University of Leeds

2014 Graduate Intern, Leeds Creative Labs. Leeds Creative and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds.

Project: Creating Digital Impact.

Awards and Prizes

Project: Religion, Theology and the Bible - All I Learned (about the Bible), I Learned from Telly. January 2017.

Widening Participation Funding, Faculty of Arts, University of Sheffield. £550.

Finalist: Orange is the New Bible Symposium. Best Event award. Sheffield Union Academic Awards. May 2016

Project: Orange is the New Bible symposium. February 2016.

WRoCAH, Student Led Forum (with L. Skerratt – King’s College London, & C. Hamilton – University of Leeds). £2000.

University of Sheffield, Arts and Humanities PGR Forum. £250

AHRC funding: University of Sheffield WRoCAH Doctoral Studentship; 2015-2018. Additionally, Jo has received awards of £4300 from WRoCAH for her Researcher Employability Project as Visiting Researcher at the University of Auckland, and to cover conference attendance.

Postgraduate Conference Fund. School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science. University of Leeds. July 2015.

Conference: Society of Old Testament Studies Summer Meeting, Edinburgh: £150.

Alumni Footsteps Fund and LeedsforLife award, University of Leeds. April 2015.

Conference: British Conference of Undergraduate Research (undisclosed sum: all fees).

AHRC funding: WRoCAH Research Preparation Masters Studentship; University of Leeds. July 2014.

Leslie Barnard Prize in Theology and Religious Studies award for best BA dissertation in Theology and Religious Studies. University of Leeds. July 2014.

Zion Old British School Prize for best overall performance in the final year of the BA Theology and/or Religious Studies. University of Leeds. July 2014.

1st Prize. RSA/Edward Boyle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research. RSA and University of Leeds. March 2014.

LeedsforLife Foundation Project Award, University of Leeds. November 2013. £400.

Friends (Single Honours) Prize for best marks in Theology and Religious Studies at Level 2. University of Leeds. July 2013.

Special Commendation. Adult Learner Award. University of Leeds. May 2013.

Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship (Faculty of Arts), University of Leeds. 2012-2014.

Project: 35 Years of the Community Religions Project: Revisiting the Archives. £6000 + £1000 conference and research funding.

Finalist. Participation Award. University of Leeds Partnership Awards. March 2012.

Professional Memberships

• Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Associate Member. Religion, Gender and Sexualities Stream: Centre for Critical Inquiry Into Society and Culture (CCISC), Aston University.

• Society of Biblical Literature

• International Association for the study of Religion and Gender

• European Association of Biblical Studies

• Society of Old Testament Studies

• Open@TUOS LGBT+ and Allies Network, University of Sheffield