The CIRQUE research unit on BDSM is based at the University of L’Aquila. It aims at investigating the hermeneutic potential of this complex and diverse universe of sexual practices, all sharing a specific attention to performance, and to the transformation of power relationships into consensual play. At the same time, it intends to explore, through a comparative approach, representations of sadomasochism, fetishism, and other anti-normative sexual behaviours in literature, arts and the media, in order to map how BDSM may contribute to identify sexual and affective practices subverting the heteropatriarchal norm.