In November 2019, I was the keynote speaker at Kylie: The Symposium, a two-day international conference, held at Maynooth University (Ireland), dedicated to all things Minogue (or ‘the actual Kylie’ as my students once termed her).
Talks across the conference covered analyses of Kylie’s image
and branding; her music; her status as a cancer survivor; different phases of
her career; her ageing and more. Not
only was it an interdisciplinary conference, it also attracted some Kylie fans
and industry professionals, and was great fun with some really interesting papers.
My own talk, ‘The Golden Girl-Next-Door: Transmedia celebrations of Kylie’s 50th birthday’ looked at the way her 50th birthday celebration (at the centre of which was the launch of Golden) became an event that played out across a wide range of media interviews and retrospectives spanning numerous magazines, newspapers, TV and radio shows as well as online articles and social media.
I looked at it in relation to both other media anniversaries (e.g. Doctor Who and Coronation Street’s 50th, Neighbours’ 30th) and media representations of other established stars (e.g. Madonna, Dannii, Jennifer Aniston), as well as exploring aspects of Kylie’s enduring ‘star image’ and brand.
I think there is likely to be a special issue or similar coming out from the conference and hopefully I’ll have something written to share in the near future, but in the meantime, my slides will be available from my Academia page.
This week I’ve been at the second biennial Celebrity Studies conference at Royal Holloway. It’s been a great event with a really rich mixture of disciplines represented and a lot of Australians to make up for missing a couple of days’ worth of Neighbours. There was a strong showing from PhD and MA students, which was really exciting to see, as well as esteemed prof superstars (much fanboying and fangirling and fan-whatever-the-non-binary-equivalent-is-ing over Richard Dyer occurred) and those of us who sit somewhere inbetween. Those of you who follow me on Twitter are no doubt already sick of hearing about it #sorrynotsorry.
There was a crazy choice of panels and so much I didn’t get to see but I’m hoping people will publish and/or upload things soon. As someone who runs a Celebrity Culture module there were so many things to consider and implement into my teaching from a conference that encompassed everything from literary and historical celebrity, to animal celebs, to politics to the ubiquitous Kardashians – mentioned in more papers than anyone could count. That we shared the venue with other conferences, including a Holocaust Studies one, and a university open day, added a delicious twist.
My own paper was on celebrity reality TV formats and you can find the slides here. But once I hunt them down, I’ll share links to some of my favourites from the event – I’ve really enjoyed hearing a fantastic articulation of the way Tumblr gifs are used as narrative soundbites, some lovely material about teen views of celebrity that made me desperate for MOAR, an interesting take on novelists and ‘hoaxes’, a whip through the world of animal celebrity and loads more. What would have been nice would have been more interview work with celebrities and their ‘intermediaries’ themselves (there was some of this but not enough) and more work on Asia and Africa… among other things. However, it feels a little churlish to see there being lack in a programme that was so fun.
On the middle night we were treated to mini-docs on celebrity from MA documentary students which gave an excellent example of how to embed theory, practice and research together and how host university students can be involved in conferences (the MA students also did a wonderful job stewarding) and gave me loads of ideas to take back to my own department.
Oh, and Royal Holloway orders the BEST biscuits (strawberry and cream! Salted caramel! Passion Fruit and White Chocolate!) – SHU catering, GET ON IT.
Tomorrow night I’m hosting a reader’s group at the Site Gallery in Sheffield as part of Helen Benigson‘s Weightless Utopias residency. Helen’s an artist, performer and rapper and the installation she’s involved in is an interactive piece blending digital art, performance and discussion around issues of body image, weight, gender etc.
As part of this, we’re going to look at these themes in the latest Cosmopolitan magazine – both online and in print – at a reading group tomorrow night. If you’d like to come, entry is free, but you’ll need to book. It starts 5.30pm and should run for about an hour.