Celebrity Studies Conference 2014


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.

Things I want to see more papers on next year

hollyoaksIn an attempt to add content to my blog I was going to post some links to academic articles on Christmas (particularly Media Studies related things).  But apparently there’s not much out there, adding to the growing list of things I would like to see more papers on in order to inform my teaching/research or just satisfy my random curiosities but don’t have time to write myself, thank you very much (if you write on these I will love you, or if you know of stuff, please post in comments – some of these topics have a few articles and chapters that I’ve come across, but none are exactly saturating the academic market):

  • Christmas, especially Christmas specials or singles or that kind of thing.
  • Hollyoaks
  • Susan Boyle
  • Whatsapp and/or snapchat
  • British TV game shows of the 21st Century that are not reality TV or Millionaire
  • BBCs Three and Four, ITVs two, three and four
  • Yours magazine
  • Spotted communities
  • Made in Chelsea
  • Great British… programmes (Bake Off, Sewing Bee, Menu etc)
  • The i newspaper
  • Comic Relief/Sport Relief and/or Children in Need
  • The Simpsons: Tapped Out
  • Whether or not the hashtags used in product ads get any traffic that isn’t a) sarcastic b) generated by the company and its employees/marketers

Thanks in advance!  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Fifty Shades special issue

home_coverI co-edited (with Sarah Harman and Bethan Jones) the current special issue of Sexualities journal (December 2013, 16 (8)) which is all about the Fifty Shades phenomenon.

My own paper is a co-authored piece with Clarissa Smith looking at audience responses to the books, whilst Sarah and Bethan look at snark responses.  We’ve also got contributions from the likes of Meg Barker, Alex Dymock, Feona Attwood and Caroline Walters, IQ Hunter, Deborah Whitehead, Angie Tsaros and Amber Martin.  It’s open access until March, so go and read!