It is April already!
Here is a brief overview of what you will find in this issue. Travel and accommodation information for the CMCS 2016 conference in Barcelona is now available. Prior to the conference, a celebrity studies workshop in Portsmouth U.K. might be of interest to many members. A reminder that the deadline for Sex and Sexualities in Popular Culture: Feminist Perspectives 2016 is approaching. CMCS board member Dr Anita Krajnc is in news again, which has been an ongoing inspiration for scholars, media professionals, and activists. More details on these and other conferences, workshops and media updates can be found below.
Please feel free to share this newsletter with colleagues and students in your department. If you wish to submit material for the next edition, please email the content to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for new publications announcements coming up in the next editions.
Have a great month ahead!
Dr Louis Massey
Advisory Board Member & Communication Manager,
Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS)
The Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) is an international organization and research network that helps coordinating academic research and media commentaries on celebrity culture. CMCS carries a pedagogical philosophy that inspires integration of research and media skills training in academic and public discourses of fame. The centre believes in intellectual, aesthetic, and ethical values of bridging gaps in higher education and media. With this view, CMCS helps coordinating research, publications, creative productions, and media commentaries to restore artistic and ethical acts for social change.
Conferences and Workshops
From Dr Celia Lam
CMCS 2016 BCN Conference #BGCS16 – Travel and Accommodation
We are very excited about the upcoming Bridging Gaps conference in Barcelona.
To help you plan your travel and accommodation we would like to direct your attention to our Venue, Travel and Accommodation page found at the below link.
Here you will find directions for traveling to the conference venue, instructions for booking at the Four Points Sheraton and alternative accommodation options.
The Four Points has limited availability so we recommend you get your booking in soon.
We will be in touch regarding the conference program and further guidelines shortly.
From Dr Rachel Smillie
Workshop: Celebrity, Prestige and the Cultural Field
10am-4pm, 8th June 2016
Venue: University of Portsmouth
Room 2.14, Dennis Sciama Building
Free admission. Please register at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/workshop-celebrity-prestige-and-the-cultural-field-tickets-23050252927
This workshop will focus on relational aspects of celebrity culture with reference to debates about field analysis, cultural value (and valuelessness), DIY celebrity and spoiled identity, shame and disgust, autonomy and heteronomy, classed and gendered representations, good and bad taste, privilege in an era of austerity, boundary crossings and successful/unsuccessful attempts to carry prestige from one cultural field to another.
Chris Rojek (City University)
‘Spoiled celebrity identity and social media: the Belle Gibson case’
The paper will examine the rise of DIY celebrity. It will focus on the case of Belle Gibson. Gibson is an Australian life style guru whose web site detailing her struggle with cancer, gained worldwide interest. Gibson’s advice on holistic treatment and self help directly rejected medical authority. She claimed to use natural methods to cope with her cancer. The success of her self medicated treatment was applauded by the media as an outstanding case of courage and common sense. Gibson was voted Australian business woman of the year and Penguin books published her self help recipes, which became a best seller. However, upon critical investigation it turned out that Gibson was lying. She never had cancer. Her web site, she argued, is something that we have to ‘learn to live with’, because her reality is different to our reality. The paper uses the Gibson scandal to consider wider issues of DIY celebrity and spoiled identity.
David Giles (University of Winchester)
Cultural fields, media and celebrities: Boundary crossings and legitimation
We are all familiar with the attempt of celebrities to ‘dabble’ in other cultural fields (actors making musical recordings, TV personalities authoring books). Much of the time these individuals encounter derision or even hostility, and abandon any further attempts to excel in a different sphere of activity. Here I consider this kind of activity as boundary crossing between cultural fields. These boundaries take on particular significance when an individual with high capital in one field attempts to enter a different field. Sometimes this is negotiated with little difficulty, because the fields are close neighbours with (many) similar rules of exchange (e.g. theatre and cinema). At other times the boundary crossing is fraught with difficulty, either because the fields are incompatible, or because the individual’s own capital does not convert successfully. Celebrity capital is said to be a valuable resource that enables, for example, individuals from the entertainment world to enter politics. Driessens (2013) defines celebrity capital as ‘recognition by other agents in a social field’ that arises from the ‘recognizability’ earned through media presence. However, the rules of exchange do not always allow that capital to be easily converted, especially where ‘media meta-capital’ (Couldry, 2003) influences the ‘exchange rate’. One area where we can see this happening is in the broad fields of classical and popular music (Giles, 2015), where critical media reviews can offset the commercial success of a boundary crossing. In this talk I will explore recent developments in the culture of celebrity, notably the rise of online celebrities such as YouTubers, many of whom have published books in the last year or two. To what extent does their sphere of activity constitute a cultural field, and what kind of celebrity capital do they accumulate through this activity? How convertible is it? I will argue that the notion of cultural field is closely bound up with the notion of medium: both are equally difficult to define, particularly in the digital era. Finally, how does celebrity fit into this picture?
Kim Allen (University of Leeds)
‘Ordinary Royals’: authenticating celebrity and justifying privilege in an age of austerity
Concentrating on the mediation of the Kate (Duchess of Cambridge) and Prince Harry, this paper will examine how Royal celebrity functions within the current moment of austerity Britain. Understanding austerity as having a distinct discursive, aesthetic and moral register (Bramall 2013; Jensen and Tyler 2012; Allen et al. 2015), the paper will identify how themes and tropes of ordinariness, thrift, hard work, social mobility and nostalgia play out in the mediation of Harry and Kate. It will explore how these two Royals come to figure in ways that serve to legitimate and justify the immense wealth and privilege of the institution of the Royal Family in the context of growing inequality and declining social mobility (Dorling 2014). To do this, the paper will draw on data collected as part of an ESRC-funded qualitative study of celebrity culture and young people’s classed and gendered aspirations. Specifically it will use textual analysis of the media representation of Harry and Kate along with data from interviews with 148 young people (aged 14-17) to illuminate both celebrity and austerity as spaces of contestation and struggle. By unpicking what symbolic work these figures do in neoliberal austerity Britain, the paper seeks to extend and update earlier analysis of the Royal Family (Billig 1992; Couldry 2001).
Hannah Yelin (Oxford Brookes University)
‘White Trash’ Celebrity: Shame and Display
This paper interrogates the construction of the figure of the ‘white trash’ celebrity through the star images of American reality TV star Paris Hilton and British reality star Jade Goody, as constructed in their memoirs (as ‘official’, highly controlled media) and their wider reception (discourses which lie beyond their control). This paper argues that the nature of contemporary celebrity media exposure, with its subjects’ lives on display, provides a basis for the gendered classing of its female stars as ‘white trash,’ regardless of their socioeconomic background. I will show how these women transgress (and in so doing highlight the existence of) celebrity’s codes of idealised white femininity: a whiteness which retains the privilege of an unmarked category until such celebrities fall short of its ideals of purity and restraint and are thus deemed to be, and denigrated as, ‘White Trash’.
For further information, please contact:
Dr Simon Stewart
Dr Rachel Smillie
This workshop is part of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science funded project: ‘Celebrities, Fans and Muses’.
From Andrea Marshall
Sex and Sexualities in Popular Culture: Feminist Perspectives 2016
Call for Papers for a 1-day postgraduate symposium hosted by the Digital Cultures Research Centre
Abstract deadline: April 15th, 2016
Conference date and location: September 3rd, 2016, Digital Cultures Research Centre, The Watershed, Bristol
Eligibility: Postgraduate students (MA/MSc onwards) and creative practitioners
Send abstracts to: email@example.com
Keynote speaker: Cheryl Morgan
The second annual Sex and Sexualities in Popular Culture: Feminist Perspectives symposium is returning to the Bristol Watershed in September 2016. Following an exciting inaugural symposium in 2015, this year’s event will continue our tradition of offering a safe, inclusive space for postgraduate students and creative practitioners to meet peers, share work and learn from each other.
We are delighted to welcome Cheryl Morgan as the keynote speaker for PopSex16. Cheryl is a Hugo award-winning science fiction critic and publisher. She is the owner of Wizard’s Tower Press and the Wizard’s Tower Books ebook store. Previously she edited the Hugo Award winning magazine, Emerald City (Best Fanzine, 2004). She also won a Hugo for Best Fan Writer in 2009. She is a Co-Chair of Out Stories Bristol and lectures regularly on both trans history and science fiction and fantasy literature.
We continue to be interested in how representations of sex and sexualities in popular culture shape feminist – and anti-feminist – issues and discourses. Since our 2015 event, we have seen both the box office success and backlash against films such as Mad Max Fury Road (noted for strong feminist themes and female leads in a traditionally male-dominated franchise) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which upset “Men’s Rights Activists” through its failure to feature a straight, white, male hero). MRAs have also made abortive attempts to organise away from the keyboard. Eddie Redmayne, the cisgender male actor cast as the lead in The Danish Girl, has drawn criticism for his claims that the movie has brought trans issues to the mainstream. Fanfiction has received even more mainstream coverage with speculation that pressure from fans may move Disney to make one of the leads in the latest Star Wars trilogy canonically gay. And of course many aspects of sex and sexualities remain silenced and unrepresented in popular culture. We welcome, among others, proposals which examine these trends and take the (mis/under)representations of sex and sexualities in popular culture as a starting point to theorise the links between popular culture and real-world feminist issues and activism.
We aim to create a space safe for experimentation – both with new ideas and with presentation formats. We therefore encourage a range of submissions, including workshops, discussions, pecha kucha, as well as the traditional 20-minute paper format.
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
- Representations of women’s desire and sexualities in popular culture
- Non-cis- and heteronormative sexualities in popular culture, especially beyond “gay and lesbian”
- Representations of sex work
- Infertility and sexual dysfunction
- Sexual intersections, including race, disability, religion, class and socioeconomic status, gender, etc.
- Sex and sexualities in gaming
- Sexual pleasure in popular culture
- Invisibility: (a)sexualities unrepresented
- Sex, sexualities and social media
- Sex and sexualities in fan and transformative work.
Please submit a 300-word abstract and a 100-word bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15th, 2016.
Digital Cultures Research Centre
University of the West of England, Bristol
Advisory board member, media spokesperson & founder of the growing international The Save Movement Dr Anita Krajnc has been featured on CTV News and Toronto’s breaking news CP 24 for her outstanding contributions to non-human animals. View and share her featured interview here: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/woman-charged-for-giving-water-to-pigs-saves-goat-from-slaughter-1.2838189#_gus&_gucid=&_gup=