I’m really bad at answering the question ‘so what do you research?’ because the answer is, genuinely, a whole bunch of stuff.  You might think Fifty Shades, Cliff Richard, Belle and Sebastian, The Sims, Doctor Who, The X Factor, religious documentaries, Twitter, Tumblr, LiveJournal, Facebook, Zoella, The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Pope, cancer charity selfie campaigns, celebrity reality shows and Neighbours aren’t the most obvious of bedfellows, but I’ve happily researched all of them (and more!).

My publications, presentations and teaching pages should give you some idea of the kinds of things I’ve done and am doing.  My key areas of interest are internet studies; soap and drama; fan studies; audience research; religion and the media and reality and factual television.  My PhD looked at religion on British factual TV.

At present, I’m working on several projects and trying to bring together my research activity on religion and TV, reality TV, fans and brands and soap opera tinto various books, articles and chapters.  Also in the pipeline (i.e. almost there) are two journal articles on YouTube celebrity with Kathryn Murphy and an entry on gender and fan studies for a forthcoming encyclopedia on gender and culture.

I co-edited two journal Special Issues, the December 2013 issue of Sexualities journal, on ‘Reading the Fifty Shades Phenomenon’ (with Sarah Harman and Bethan Jones) and the May 2015 edition of the International Journal of Cultural Studies (with Feona Atwood) on ‘transforming the makeover’.  I’m currently considering a couple more editing gigs, details TBC!

I am interested in supervising student work on areas including religion and the media, internet cultures, social media, media audiences, fan studies, gaming cultures, media representations of gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion, class or nationality, notions of Britishness, soap opera and drama, cult media, celebrity culture or factual television.


  1. Hi Ruth,
    My name is Rachel and I am a Year 11 student from Adelaide, Australia. For my Research Project this year I have decided to study how social media has affected adolescent fans since Beatlemania in the 1960’s. I am having some trouble trying to find secondary sources on adolescents’ use of social media for fan uses today, and I was wondering if you knew where I could find something talking about it.

    • Hi! Sounds like a great project. There are actually plenty of sources, it depends where you want to start! Which fandom(s)/platforms in particular? I can point you in specific directions if you email me.

      A number of people presented on 1 Direction at the Fan Studies Network conference and the Celebrity Studies conference – if you google you should be able to find programme details and the names of those people but let me know if you can’t. Google ‘Selected Papers in Internet Research’ too – this is where short papers for the annual Association of Internet Researchers conference get uploaded and there might be something useful there.

      I’ve done some stuff on older fans and social media and on Sims fans which you can get from my page.

      Plenty of older work on young fans too before social media: anything on scenes or subcultures is good.

      Check out Transformative Works and Cultures: and Participations: for open-access work.

      Henry Jenkins’ blog is also a good place to see a lot of fandom studies conversations.

      Hope that gets you started but do email me if you want more specific sources.

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