Seeing Fans, edited by Lucy Bennett and Paul Booth, is available now from Bloomsbury Academic (at extortionate monies, so beg your library). I have a chapter in this collection looking at the representation of mature female fans of male singers (e.g. Rod Stuart, Daniel O’Donnell) are betrayed in local and national newspapers. The collection itself is great-a real mixture of academic and industry insights into how fans are portrayed in different contexts.
A few weeks ago, I presented a paper at the celebrity studies conference in Amsterdam, written with Kathryn Murphy, one of my research students. In this paper we looked at newspaper representations of YouTube star Zoella. You can access the slides here. We are also presenting at the YouTube conference in Middlesex in September looking at how mainstream media are portraying YouTube stars.
I’ve also got an article available in Celebrity Studies on the ‘fame cycle’ and celebrity reality television, and this summer I’m completing work on ethics in fan studies and safe spaces in higher education as well as continuing work on gaming audiences and their relationship to corporations.
The Selfie Researchers Network has been running for just over a year, and members of it have just contributed to a special section, edited by Nancy Baym and Terri Senft, in the latest issue of the International Journal of Communication (vol 9). Articles look at funeral selfies, selfies in different cultures, selfies and politics and much more. My own contribution (written with Shane Tilton) compares the #nomakeupselfie and #thumbsupforstephen selfie campaigns and explores how they were portrayed very differently in wider media – but don’t just read ours, there’s a whole heap of interesting stuff in the issue – and it’s all open access!
The current issue of the International Journal of Cultural Studies (May 2015: 18 (3)) is the one that Feona Attwood and I guest-edited on Moments of Transformation – it’s been available for a while via OnlineFirst but now it’s out ‘for real’. The collection comprises a range of short and long pieces on different ways of thinking about aspects of makeover and transformation, from the changing taglines of social media sites to the use of YouTube by trans* vloggers.
My own paper looks at the trend of the mid-late 00s and early 10s to combine reality TV makeover formats and religious/spiritual programming – the likes of The Monastery, Make Me a Muslim etc.
Contributors include the likes of Matt Hills, Tania Lewis, Meredith Jones and Jean Burgess and we think it’s a nice mixture of topics and approaches. Sadly it’s not open access but hopefully you can find ways and means… 😉
I have now closed the Sims 4 pre-release survey with around 800 completions and will be working my way through the data in advance of the Fan Studies Network conference in September where I’ll present some of the preliminary findings. Now The Sims 4 is out (in most of the world anyway…) the post-release survey is live. I’d love as many people as possible to complete it – whether or not you have TS4, and whether or not you completed the earlier survey.
There will be two types of questions – a set for those who have played TS4 and a set for those who haven’t. The survey will be live until the end of October. If you are planning on getting it before then, please can you wait until you have played before completing it? But if you have already played or you know you won’t be getting it before the end of October, go right ahead!
As before, it’s entirely anonymous (and this survey is a bit shorter too). Results from the pre-release survey are likely to be available late September after the conference and I’ll keep people posted about the results of this one.
Neighbours Cluedo from Art of Neighbours
I’ve got chapters/papers in a couple of publications that were released in the past few days. Bethan Jones and Wickham Clayton recently edited a special issue of Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media about transmedia board games. I have a wee piece about The Art of Neighbours in there, but the range of articles is really great – not just cult/fantasy stuff but it features things like Charlie Chaplin, Battleship and the Wizard of Oz. It was a great project to be involved in and I know a few things are being written on board games at the moment so I look forward to seeing where this burgeoning field goes…
I’ve also got a chapter in The Ashgate Research Companion to Fan Cultures (edited by Linda Duits, Joost de Bruin and Stijn Reijnders) about the research I did on Cliff Richard and Belle and Sebastian fans in the early 2000s and early 2010s. The book covers a wide range of topics, eras and methodologies and I can’t wait to read it.
And, as I suspect I’m getting a bit of traffic from Sims fans at the moment, just an update on the Sims 4 research – my pre-release survey will be live until Monday if you still want to complete it. The post-release survey should be up within a week of the game’s release (it hasn’t been written yet as I want to adapt questions to what’s known to be in the game after it comes out, not just the pre-release news/rumours/trailers etc). I know a lot of people have said in the pre-release that they’re not buying it, but I hope those people will still fill in the post-release survey. The survey will essentially take two ‘tracks’ – one for those who’ve purchased it and one for those who haven’t (yet) and the findings will be compared to the pre-release data. Almost 800 surveys have been completed. Some of the raw data will be made available late September when I present a paper at the Fan Studies Network conference on it, but it’ll take a while to process everything (especially all the qualitative comments). Number and nature of the publications based on it TBC but I’m also committed to some non-Sims and non-fan studies papers in 14/15 (plus creating new modules for SHU) so I will have to write those first!
As most of you know, I have been doing research with Sims fans for a couple of years now and a while back held a survey about their web use. Some of those findings are in a paper I presented at the Internet Research conference last year (slides here, short paper here), some aspects were mentioned in a paper I co-authored in Participations journal. I have also written an article using these findings which will be published in the journal Transformative Works and Cultures next year and have another 2-3 articles in progress.
Given the release of Sims 4, I wanted to use this opportunity to gather player opinions on the new game, both before and after its release, and so I’m asking anyone who is a Sims player to fill in two short(ish) anonymous surveys relating to the game. The pre-release survey is now live and I would appreciate you recirculating the link so I can get as many people as possible to complete it (I had around 1.5K responses last time – thanks all!): http://pinto.hallam.shu.ac.uk/limesurvey/index.php/298684/lang-en
The second survey will be posted after the game is released (probably within the first week rather than on the day of release as I’ll need to discover what its features actually are so I can create appropriate questions). I’ll post reminders when it goes live, but the address is: http://pinto.hallam.shu.ac.uk/limesurvey/index.php/549839/lang-en Please note, this survey and its follow-up are entirely anonymous.
If you want any more details, you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or keep an eye on this site. Thanks!
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.
I 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!