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Karen Throsby's Homepage


I am also supervising PhD's on a variety of topics around my core research themes of gender, technology and the body, including disability and sexuality, transgender, food policy and healthy eating advice, and genetic disorders and reproductive decision-making. I have also contributed to PhD supervisory / upgrade panels internationally on IVF and on obesity surgery. I welcome applications from prospective PhD students particularly in the areas of reproductive technology, the medical / surgical management of obesity and in the sporting body, but also more broadly in the fields of gender, technology and the body.


Research Interests

Reproductive Technologies

My PhD, completed in 2002 at the LSE Gender Institute, was a study of people's experiences of IVF failure. This was subsequently published as the book When IVF Fails: Feminism, Infertility and the Negotiation of Normality (Palgrave, 2004). As an extension of this work on IVF, I have also written (with Celia Roberts) on the topic of the donation of eggs for stem cell research, and this remains an ongoing area of interest for me.


In 2005, I began research another profoundly gendered technology of the body - obesity surgery. in 2005-6 I interviewed men and women who had either undergone surgery or who were waiting to do so, and in 2008-9, as part of an ESRC research grant, I conducted ethnographic research at an obesity surgery clinic, observing consultations and conducting interviews. This research has been published in journals, and presented at to a wide range of audiences, including patient groups, academics and fat activists.


My research and teaching are closely informed by my commitment to feminism, and I see gender as a core axis of identity and experience. I also aim to work methodologically in a way compatible with feminist values. I have a long-standing relationship with the Feminist and Women's Studies Association, sitting on the Executive Committee from 2002-2008, and organising, and subsequently acting as external judge for the annual student essay competition. I also co-edited a book with Dr Flora Alexander in 2008 entitled Gender and Interpersonal Violence: Language, Action and Representation, based on papers presented at the 2005 FWSA Annual Conference, held in Aberdeen, on the theme of "Gender and Violence". I am also a member of the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender at Warwick University.

endurance sport

More recently, I have been working on a project entitled Becoming a Channel Swimmer: identity and embodiment in an extreme sporting sub-culture. This research was funded by the ESRC from April 2010 to September 2012, but also involves auto-ethnographic research dating back to 2008. The project aims to explore the very particular bodily work and practices involved in becoming (or trying to become) a Channel swimmer, but also aims to use those experiences as a lens through which to investigate what those experiences can tell us more generally about the sporting body, and what counts as a fit body (and a body that fits) in contemporary society. In particular, I'm pursuing these questions in the light of the contemporary "war on obesity" and the London 2012 Olympics and its legacy. The research draws auto-ethnographically on my own experiences of training to swim the Channel (which I completed in September 2010), but also involves extensive interviews with prospective and accomplished swimmers, as well as boat pilots, coaches, family members, crew, official observers etc. I'm also drawing on electronic resources such as blogs and personal website, and published accounts and media reporting. This research is a new departure for me in that it involves my own bodily experiences very directly. I have also set up a project website (another new departure for me) which is intended as a resource for swimmers, a point of recruitment for research participants, and a source for the dissemination of research findings and outputs. In addition to the website, as part of the research, I also keep a blog of my own training, have made a short film of my Channel swim, and regularly update on Twitter. I am currently writing a monograph from this research called Immersion.




You can access a full publication list here

Dr Karen Throsby
B1.37 (Social Studies)
Department of Sociology
Unversity of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

024 76575129
k dot throsby at warwick dot ac dot uk

Office hours:

My office hours are: Tuesdays, 1.30-3.30, and Thursdays, 11-12 in B1.37 (Social Studies). You can sign up for appointments using the sheet on the door, or drop in during those hours if I have no other appointments.

To find B1.37, stand with your back to Ramphal looking across Library Road. There's a path just off to the right going under a footbridge. Enter the building to the right of the path, directly under the footbridge. Follow the corridor along until you reach the stairs; climb the stairs and turn left at the top. Then just follow the corridor round until you come to me. Easy.


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