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Ms Emma McCabe

Ms Emma McCabePhD Candidate
Having completed my first two degrees at the University of Stirling, I re-joined Stirling’s Religion Programme as a PhD student in 2020, co-supervised by the University of Glasgow. My research lies in the interstices of religion, literature, and philosophy, with specific interests in hermeneutics, the history of sexuality, negation, and postmodern apophatic theory.

My current project combines these elements and aims to construct a historically indebted, trans-inclusive feminism. My supervisory team includes Dr Andrew Hass, Dr Angus Vine (Stirling), and Professor Heather Walton (Glasgow).

Research and Teaching Interests

My PhD aims to provide a historical and trans-inclusive approach to gender, as informed by Renaissance scholarship, negative theology, and postmodern apophatic theory. It will directly critique feminisms that exclude gender non-conforming narratives, and which assume that transgender people base their “very existence on the idea that there is an ‘essence’ of gender” (Jeffreys, 2014).

16th/17th-century theories of sexual difference will be explored through the lens of more recent theorists, like Judith Butler (1993; 1997; 2004) and Catherine Keller (2009, 2017), to investigate how the notion of absence helped to shape interpretations of the female body. By concentrating on early modern gynaecology and the early modern theatre, my research will aim to show how these scientific and performative spheres came together to determine how gender was, and might still be, understood. In drawing out the tropes of absence and inversion from these spheres, it will also show how the female body comes to parallel an embodied negative theology, which, in the words of Luce Irigaray, “neither open nor closed…allows her continually to become something else” (1974).


ApophaticismEarly Modern GynaecologyHistory of SexualityQueer TheoryRenaissance Theatre