Monday, 31 December 2012

Higher Education as a Commons

Earlier in the year, Andreas Wittel gave a paper exploring the potential of higher education beyond both the state and the market.
In the paper, he observes that during the last decade higher education in the UK has undergone a profound transition. Universities, formerly known as public institutions, are being turned into money making corporations. This transition of higher education away from a public good and toward a private good (toward a commodity) is in full swing and close to completion. Needless to say the effects are devastating in every respect. However, he argues, it would be a grave error to bemoan this process with sentiments of nostalgia. The public university, as it is well known, has often been accused of being an elitist institution. It has been rightly criticised for stabilising and conserving existing class structures. Is there a third way? Is it possible to conceptualise higher education beyond state and market? 

Andreas used his presentation as an exercise in utopian thinking. He introduced two developments in higher education that are situated beyond state and market. The first development are large scale transnational initiatives such as the 'University of the People' and the 'Open Education Resource University'. These initiatives organise education as remote learning and through digital technologies. They are aimed at students in disadvantaged areas. While the politics of these initiatives is progressive and inclusive, the educational philosophy is contestable. It is largely based on self-education and it outsources some important parts of the educational process by making a distinction between the free access of open educational resources on the one hand and small fees that need to be paid for assessments. The second development are free university initiatives that organise higher education as a common good, e.g. the Free University of San Francisco and the Social Science Centre in Lincoln. These initiatives are very much in line with autonomous thinking and anarchist concepts of education. While they should be applauded for introducing alternative models of higher education, they are also problematic with respect to the notion of free labour. In order to analyse this problem he introduces a conceptual distinction between a knowledge commons and an education commons. Andreas also offered some general considerations on the growth and the sustainability of free universities.

Andreas Wittel, "Beyond state and market: Higher education as a Commons", For a Public University Workshop, organised by Prof. Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham, 15 June 2012

Monday, 24 December 2012

Queer Culture and Dissidence in Turkey

Earlier this year, Cuneyt Cakirlar published an edited collection (with Serkan Delice) which explored queer culture in Turkey. 

The book aims to challenge heteronormativity, compulsory heterosexuality and homo/transphobic violence in Turkey by investigating local historical and cultural narratives, social practices and forms of relationality in creative, dissident and queer ways. It interrogates the possibilities of an alternative critical practice that defies heteronormativity and its “partners in crime”, namely neoliberalism, nationalism, militarism and religious conservatism in contemporary Turkey. The critical agenda of this study is not only informed by a liberal human rights discourse that relies on sexual identity categories and identity politics. It is also inspired by sexual multitudes and ambiguities inherent within the local and historical cultural texture. Invoking unique possibilities of the local, this project looks at the ways in which the global travel of Western sexual identity categories and theories transform and assimilate local cultural forms of sexual subjectivity. While it questions the validity and applicability of categories and theories, this book also argues that the critical stance towards global sexual identity categories should not turn into an “authenticity fetishism”. Global sexual identity categories and Western theories can be appropriated critically and strategically, for different purposes, in different contexts. Rather than seeing the travel of global theories and categories as a hierarchical, single-dimensional imposition, this collection of essays suggests a reciprocal interaction always changing and transforming both the local and the global.


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

PhD Funding

If you are thinking of studying for a PhD in areas covered by CSICAD - or within communications, culture and media more generally - you may be interested in applying to NTU's Vice Chancellor's Bursary Scheme to fund your studies. This year's application process is now open and you can find further details of the scheme and how to apply here. The closing date for this year's bursaries is 9am on Friday 15th February. 

You can find more information about potential supervisors and their interests on this site. If you have any questions about studying for a PhD in our Centre, please email Joanne Hollows.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Representations of Madness

Simon Cross has recently published two articles that emerge out of his on-going research on madness.
In 'Bedlam in Mind', published in the European Journal of Cultural Studies, he explores the mythical Bedlam of popular imaginings. London’s Bethlem Hospital was for centuries a unique institution caring for the insane and its alter ego ‘Bedlam’ influenced popular stereotypes of insanity. For instance, while the type of vagrant beggar known as a ‘Tom of Bedlam’ was said to have disappeared from English society with the Restoration, the figure of Mad Tom retained a visual and vocal presence within popular musical culture from the seventeenth century up to the present era. Using the ballad ‘Mad Tom o’ Bedlam’ as a case study, he illustrates how an early modern stereotype of madness has maintained continuity within a popular song tradition whilst undergoing cultural change. 

In 'Laughing at Lunacy', published in Social Semiotics, Simon examines what is at stake in humour about the 'mad' and 'madness'.  Jokes and humour about mental distress are said by anti-stigma campaigners to be no laughing matter. However, his article takes issue with this viewpoint arguing that this is clearly not the case since popular culture past and present has laughed at the antics of those perceived as ‘mad’. Drawing on past and present examples of the othering of insanity in jokes and humour the article incorporates a historical perspective on continuity and change in humour about madness/mental distress, which enables us to recognise that psychiatry is a funny-peculiar enterprise and its therapeutic practices in past times are deserving of funny ha-ha mockery and mirth in the present. By doing so, the article also argues that humour and mental distress illuminate how psychiatric definitions and popular representations conflict and that some psychiatric service users employ comic ambiguity to reflexively puncture their public image as ‘nuts’.

Simon Cross, (2012) Bedlam in Mind: Seeing and Reading Historical Images of Madness. European Journal of Cultural Studies. Volume 15(1) February, pp. 19-34.

Simon Cross (2012) Laughing at Lunacy: Othering and comic ambiguity in popular humour about mental distress. Social Semiotics. Currently iFirst Article.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Denaturalizing Academic Writing

In two recent articles, Lisa Clughen and Matt Connell have explored some of the issues involved in promoting ways of helping students to gain access to what often seem to be 'mysterious' practices associated with academic writing.

In one chapter they consider the confusions wrought by academic work and embrace the frequently advanced notion that social interaction is crucial for dealing with the opacities of academic writing. It draws from critical interest in dialogic forms of learning, wherein knowledge, in this case knowledge about one’s subject, about the specific expectations of the writing task and group knowledge about the different understandings and difficulties facing students as they write, is seen as ‘emerging from interaction and the interpenetration of different voices’. In the interests of building supportive communities for writing, their chapter offers dialogic lecture analysis as a technique that aims, on the one hand, to promote a sense of solidarity and shared identity amongst students as, together, they face the challenges of academic writing and, on the other hand, to stimulate tutor–student dialogue that opens the ground for tutor understandings of student confusions around writing.

In their other article, they explore how, while support for writing instruction amongst lecturers in UK Universities is high, lecturers often prefer it to be provided by dedicated study skills specialists operating outside subject curricula. Yet because of the well-documented problems with the skills approach (where literacy support frequently becomes a generic add-on), American models such as Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing in the Disciplines (WID) make a strong claim that writing stratagems and thinking/theorizing within disciplines are actually intrinsically linked. It is accordingly now a commonplace in such literacy research that writing development needs to be contextualized within the disciplines, and interest in adapting such approaches to the UK context is burgeoning. They discuss how a recent project at Nottingham Trent University set out to explore the prospects for such an adaption through the piloting of an embedded approach in the Social Theory subject area, but the project ran into a series of resistances that came close to thwarting it entirely. The initial challenge lay in convincing time-poor subject lecturers to engage with the literacy initiative and to find space for it in an already saturated curriculum. Yet it seemed that behind the surface perception that the embedding of literacy development would be onerous, or would squeeze out core subject content, there lay a deeper attitude that such development was both ‘beneath’ subject lecturers and unconnected to the specific concerns of their academic discipline. This reflection piece, co-written by the academic support coordinator championing the initiative and the Social Theory Subject Leader, seeks to understand some of these attitudes, using the work of Sigmund Freud and Theodor W. Adorno to probe various psycho-social aspects of the phenomenon of resistance to the embedding of writing development in a discipline. What emerges is a reflection on practice which arguably reveals a certain complex around the status of teaching as opposed to lecturing, alongside a process of displaced resistance to the managerialist and vocationalizing discourse which is on the ascendency within UK universities.

Lisa Clughen and Matt Connell (2012), ‘Using Dialogic Lecture Analysis to Clarify Disciplinary Requirements for Writing’ in Lisa Clughen and Christine Hardy (eds.) Writing in the Disciplines: building supportive cultures for student writing in UK higher education, Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. 

Lisa Clughen and Matt Connell ‘Writing and resistance: Reflections on the practice of embedding writing in the curriculum', Arts and Humanities in Higher EducationVol 11.4, October 2012


Friday, 23 November 2012

Consuming Isabel Allende

Earlier this year Maria Fanjul Fanful gave a conference paper based on her research into the significance for Isabel Allende's work to her readers.

She argued that previous work on Isabel Allende’s fiction has largely focussed on the analysis of textual elements. However, what has received little attention is the production and consumption of Allende’s writings in specific cultural contexts. With that in mind, her research analyses Spanish readers’ responses to Clara del Valle in The House of the Spirits.  This approach is part of a larger project whose main aim is to explore and critically interrogate Allende’s popularity cross-culturally among groups of readers in Britain and Spain. What this means is that the focus of this study has moved from texts to readers although Allende’s writings are not being neglected since they still constitute an important starting point to understand her popularity.

Maria Fanjul Fanjul, 'Isabel Allende’s Popularity from a Readership Perspective: Spanish Readers’ Responses to Clara del Valle in The House of the Spirits', XXXIX CONGRESO DEL INSTITUTO INTERNACIONAL DE LITERATURA IBEROAMERICANA (IILI) DIÁLOGOS CULTURALES, CÁDIZ, (SPAIN) 3- 6 JULY 2012

Monday, 19 November 2012

Digital Marx

In a recent article, Andreas Wittel offers ways of theorizing the political economy of distributed media. 

In 'Digital Marx', he starts from the claim that in the age of mass media the political economy of media has engaged with Marxist concepts in a rather limited way. In the age of digital media Marxist theory could and should be applied in a much broader sense to this field of research. The article provides a rationale for this claim with a two step approach. The first step is to produce evidence for the claim that political economy of mass media engaged with Marxist theory in a rather limited way. It is also to explain the logic behind this limited engagement. The second step – which really is the core objective of the article – is an exploration of key concepts of Marx’s political economy - such as labour, value, property and struggle - and a brief outline of their relevance for a critical analysis of digital media. These concepts are particularly relevant for a deeper understanding of phenomena such as non-market production, peer production, and the digital commons, and for interventions in debates on free culture, intellectual property, and free labour.

Andreas Wittel (2012), Digital Marx: Toward a Political Economy of Distributed Media, Triple C, 10(2)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Foucault: Power, Politics, Pleasure

Patrick O'Connor recently co-edited (with Keith Crome) a special edition of the Journal of British Society for Phenomenology (Vol 43, 1), entitled Foucault: Politics, Power, Pleasure. Contributors in this collection of essays focused around Foucault's use and treatment of the themes of power and pleasure. The twin axes of power and pleasure are at the heart of Foucault's studies of madness, medicine, punishment and sexuality and the thematic focus allowed contributors to focus on range of Foucault's work considering a range of issues (e.g. biopolitics, governmentality and the aesthetics of the self) in an effort to discuss some points of contact, contrast and conflict between Foucault's work and the phenomenological tradition in relation to the themes of power and pleasure.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Feminism and the Politics of Consumption

In her recent article in Feminist Media Studies, Joanne Hollows examines the significance of representations of both consumer culture and consumption practices in the British feminist magazine Spare Rib during its initial years of publication from 1972 to 1974. 

Her analysis identifies how the magazine combined an established feminist critique of consumer culture with guidance on responsible consumption practices. The dispositions towards consumption that are recommended to readers are shaped by four key values: these are health, the natural, economy and craft production. These values underpin a politics of consumption during a period in which Spare Rib attempted to negotiate a feminist identity. However, once this feminist identity was established, content centred around consumption rapidly diminished as it was apparently not “feminist” enough. The article questions how a “conventional” position was established against both consumer culture and consumption practices within second-wave feminism and raises questions about the impact of this position on feminism’s relationship to both consumer culture and consumption practices today. 

Joanne Hollows (2012), 'Spare Rib, Second-wave Feminism and the Politics of Consumption', Feminist Media Studies, DOI:10.1080/14680777.2012.708508

Monday, 29 October 2012

Anti-CNN and 'April Youth' in China

In a recent article, Tao Zhang explores Anti-Western sentiment in youth-oriented Chinese on-line media. 

In the article, she starts by reflecting on how a pattern of nationalistic sentiment rather complicatedly articulated with anti-westernism has been an enduring feature of China’s political culture since its traumatic entry into industrial modernity during the 19th century. But as China, at the end of the 1970s, rushed to embrace market capitalism, it began a new phase in its complex encounter with the West. Caught within the contradictions of a globalized free market economy and continuing authoritarian political control, and exacerbated by the impact of the Internet in the 1990s, the cultural narrative linking national identity with a doctrinaire antipathy towards the West was put under increasing strain. She argues that this has not, however, resulted in the abandonment of anti-westernism as a cultural referent, but in the emergence of new, more complex forms. 

This chapter explores one manifestation of this: the so-called “cyber-nationalism” embraced since the 1990s by a relatively small but significant sector of educated Chinese young people both in China and overseas. She focuses on the example of one prominent Chinese youth website, “”, which was initially intended, ‘to expose the lies and distortions in the western media’ and its subsequent development into the far more comprehensive site, ‘’ styling itself, ‘the first ever Chinese youth portal’.

Starting by sketching the historical formation of anti-western sentiment in the context of China’s passage to modernity from the nineteenth century to the present, she then analyses the emergence of ‘’ and its development into “ Youth”, focusing on its critique of alleged western bias in the reporting of China’s affairs. She develops an argument that places this within the broader context of neo-nationalism amongst the globalized post-1980s generation – the so-called Chinese ‘angry youth’ (‘fengqing’).

Tao Zhang (2012), ‘ and 'April Youth': Anti-Western sentiment in youth-oriented Chinese on-line media’  in Hernandez, L., ed., China and the West: Encounters with the other in Culture, Arts, Politics and Everyday life
Cambridge Scholars 1-16

Monday, 22 October 2012

'How Gay is Football this Year?'

Liz Morrish recently gave a paper at the Queering Paradigms IV conference (with Helen Sauntson, University of Birmingham) exploring how 'desire' operates within women's Varsity football.
Their paper starts by considering arguments from Bucholtz and Hall (2004; 2005), Morrish and Leap (2006) Morrish and Sauntson (2007) about how sexual identity emerges in context, is done relationally (i.e. between interactants) and can be linguistically signalled in various ways. Differences in culture, class, gender and race all coalesce in the production of sexually dissident identity. Bucholtz and Hall’s (2004; 2005) ‘intersubjective tactics’ framework offers a clear framework of analysis for the study of language and sexual identity. The framework is informed by aspects of queer theory and sociolinguistic theory. The framework sits well within the sociolinguistic Communities of Practice framework advocated by Eckert ( 2000) and further developed by Eckert and Wenger (2005). Queer theory reminds us that identity is not fixed, but permeable. The framework focuses analysis on three different dimensions of intersubjective enactment of identity:  adequation and distinction; authentication and denaturalisation; authorisation and illegitimation -- through which identity is intersubjectively constructed in local contexts of language use.

In this paper, they applied the tactics of intersubjectivity framework to data from conversations within a women’s football team, comprising a number of straight, questioning, bisexual and newly out lesbians. In the data, desire is constantly evoked as a way of performing adeqaution and distinction, and in this, simultaneously doing the work of identity in this context. They suggest that in a context where sexual identity is highly salient, unfixed and eroticised, desire becomes the vehicle and proxy for the signalling of adequation, authentication and authorization. In this way, enthusiastic expressions of heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality reveal a celebration of sexual discovery in late adolescence, together with experimentation with the limits of tolerance. 

Liz Morrish (Nottingham Trent University, UK) and Helen Sauntson (University of Birmingham UK), “How gay is football this year?” Desire as adequation and distinction in a women’s Varsity football team, Queering Paradigms IV conference (Rio di Janeiro), July 2012.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Research Workshop: Mediated Orientalism

Members of the Globalization and East Asian Cultures Research Group within the centre are holding a Research Workshop on Mediated Orientalism on Wednesday October 31st.

The term ‘orientalism’ was coined by Edward Said in 1978 and has become one of the most popular and controversial terms in literary, media and cultural studies. In recent years, there has been a tendency to reject the term because ‘we’ and ‘our multicultural and post-ideological society’ have moved beyond the East/West, or Orient/Occident binaries, and ‘we’ celebrate cultural differences. But is that so? Is the term ‘orientalism’ out of date and out of history? What about its counterpart ‘occidentalism’? Does the East/West or Orient/Occident binary still structure people’s understandings of cultural differences in various ways? Does orientalism have any positive and performative effects, if at all? Can orientalism be used as a political strategy and tactics for postcolonial resistance? What are the embodied and affective experiences of the orientalist desires, fantasies and dreams? Does an obsession with the ‘oriental’ style suggest our desires and fantasies for the incommensurable Other, which sometimes take an affective and libidinal form and which cannot be reduced to power relations? Or does it simply suggest some sort of racial, ethnic, gender, sexual and class distinctions? Is the denial of orientalism, or rather the blind celebration of multiculturalism and cultural differences, indicative of the neoliberal consumer capitalism that we inhabit? How is orientalism manifested in today’s media and popular culture? How does the old concept of orientalism still haunt the seemingly ever-changing and forever-new field of Media and Cultural Studies? This research workshop brings together staff and students to critically reflect on the contemporary pertinence of the term orientalism and the embodied historical past in the mediated present.

 3:00-3:30 talk ‘Useless Orientalism’ (speaker: Professor Patrick Williams, Nottingham Trent University)
3:30-4:00 pm talk ‘Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema’ (guest speaker: Dr. Jane Park, the University of Sydney, Australia)  
4:00-4:10 pm coffee/tea break
4:10-5:00 pm roundtable discussion: After Orientalism? (chair: Gary Needham; participants: all the participants in the workshop)

All participants who are interested in this topic are invited to join in the roundtable discussion.

The event is free of charge will take place in ABK107 on the Clifton campus of Nottingham Trent University. If you have any questions or queries and if you are interested in attending, please contact Dr. Hongwei Bao.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Film Comedy and Migration

Monica Boria recently discussed her research on 'Contemporary Italian Film Comedy and Migration' at the International Society of Humor Studies conference in Krakow (June 2012). 

In her paper, she explored how, over the last twenty years the recurrent label of ‘Italian cinema of migration’ has been used to refer to those films that engage with migration to Italy, a phenomenon which has increasingly preoccupied Italian society since the 1980s. Italian filmmakers have predominantly adopted a realist approach and sombre tone, however, in the last few years, a more nuanced spectrum of genres and modalities have emerged, with comedy on the rise. In contrast with the realist films, these comedies appear to revolve mostly around Italian identities, which the juxtaposition with the immigrant ‘other’ makes stand out with ridicule. In reality, the picture is much more complex and what emerges from initial analyses of a body of approximately 15 films, is that the comedy mode, whether predicated on some national ‘filoni’ (such as popular comedies and ‘commedia all’italiana’) or hybrid genres (like comedy-drama, comedy musical) has produced mixed results. In some instances it has allowed directors to tread on new grounds successfully, in others it has made humour implode.

One of the questions she has addressed is how migration is represented through the lenses of humour and whether this mode has allowed for new visions and discourses to emerge. It is often said that comedy can allow directors to venture into grounds which would otherwise be off-limits. For some of these films this indeed appears to be the case: with Cose dell’altro mondo/Things from another world (2011) director Francesco Patierno has attracted fierce criticism from politicians of the separatist Northern League party for his portrayal of provincial northern Italy as openly racist. Gennaro Nunziante’s Che bella giornata/What a beautiful day (2011) satirizes on the alleged threat posed by Islam to Italy’s culture. Another aspect to consider is what kind of humour is employed and who is laughing at/with whom. Is, for instance, the humour surrounding the illegal Egyptian builder in Claudio Cupellini’s Lezioni di cioccolato/Chocolate Lessons (2007) a typical example of ethnic humour? Or is it in fact, in the story’s reversal of roles between employer and employee, a light satire of Italian sleazy business practices and decadent lifestyle? 

Finally, has the unprecedented presence of the immigrant on the scene of Italian comedy affected the mechanisms of the production of humour? In many comedies of the past the foreigner, with its tentative Italian and lack of awareness of Italian codes of conduct, often served as a trigger of quid-pro-quos and verbal humour that only served to bring forward a re-assertion of Italy’s values and identity (for example the cunning Italian vs the gullible American tourist). Is this kind of superiority humour employed in the new context offered by migration comedies?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Queer Art from Turkey

Earlier this year, Cuneyt Cakirlar presented his research on queer art from Turkey at an event on Turkish Society in the Neoliberal Age at the University of Oxford.

His paper focused on the contemporary art scene in Turkey which has gained a considerable international visibility in the last decade. The currently expanding traffic of art galleries, institutional investors and art collectors as well as the international networks in the country have made the scene as one of the most crucial territories of cultural capital, in which the artists and their collaborators working in neighboring fields of expertise (such as academics and activists) channel their critical voices through art. The neoliberal regimes and the political economy within this international travel of art-as-capital deserve critical focus. His research, however, focuses on in-depth analyses of art-works by the key queer figures from the contemporary art scene of Turkey. Being a part of a much more extended project, his talk addressed a critical space where the glocalization and/or internationalization of contemporary arts and that of queer (and/or LGBTT) practices intersect and nurture each other.
Cuneyt's use of “queer figures” refers not necessarily to certain active members of LGBT communities in Turkey but particularly to artists whose art engages with issues of gender and sexuality in creative and dissident ways. The current academic, artistic and cultural visibility of queer practices in Turkey opens up curious critical possibilities to articulate the problematic of cross-cultural translations as well as global form(ul)ations of sexual dissidence within the post-9/11, second-generation queer theory. The main aim of this project is to examine the art-practices of Kutluğ Ataman, Taner Ceylan, Nilbar Güreş, Murat Morova and Erinç Seymen by focusing on their transregional strategies of inhabiting the “queerly critical”. While their art-works may be said to engage with the hegemonic intersections between localism, nationalism, heteronormativity and masculinity in contemporary Turkey, they instrumentalize the transregional formations of criticism, theory and contemporaneity in dissident arts. Thus, though sceptical of an unproblematically performed de-contextualization of queer theories from its western referent, his discussion investigated the possible strategies of translating and transposing queer aesthetics into a practice that not merely insist on a local political context but also act as a methodological object in its potential to reciprocate the geopolitics of critical theory and that of the global contemporary art market.
His ongoing study proposes a critical agenda of reading these practices as theoretical and methodological objects of theory, aesthetics, visual culture and media that transposes a certain queer alterity to Turkish cultural memory – and vice versa – through a constant disidentificatory distance working on and against the local/global binary. While these artists “pursue the decisive strategy of scuffling with all dimensions of its geography-culture” (Kosova, 2009), their artistic agenda also demonstrates a curious self-awareness of cultural globalization within contemporary arts. Their art practice entails layers of critical appropriation which do neither escape nor entirely forego the globalizing imperatives of theory, politics and art-practice. The mode of critique within, and the queerness of, their methodologies, which is nurtured by the so-called global trends in contemporary art (such as actionism, performance, exposure, appropriation, parody/pastiche, intermediality, etc.) can be neither reduced to an Occidentalist internalization nor overinterpreted as self-localization that enacts an innate geographic alterity. 

“Queer Art from Turkey: Aesthetics of the Glocal, Erotics of Translation” Invited Lecture, Authority and Subversion: Turkish Society in the Neoliberal Age, organized by Kerem Öktem, Lauren Mignon and Celia Kerslake, University of Oxford, 9 May 2012.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Women and Party Election Broadcasts

At a recent conference at the Manchester People's Museum, Simon Cross gave a paper which came out of one of his latest research projects on party election broadcasts.
Simon's research was contextualized within a wider history of the British party election broadcast (PEB). From 1924, this history is inextricably linked with John Reith’s paternalistic vision that broadcasting should inform and educate public opinion in the new developing politics of mass participation. By the time the PEB on TV literally comes into focus in the 1950s, public broadcasting was still dominated by ‘Reithian values’ and programmes appealing to a mass audience. Despite the break with Reithian paternalism that followed the arrival of commercial television, he argues, the PEB on TV has survived into the 2000s though not without becoming entwined with forces of commercialisation including advertising’s emphasis on segmenting markets. His paper considered the durability of the PEB on TV, illustrating continuity and change in segmented appeals to women. By doing so, he located segmented appeals to women vis-à-vis changes in British TV such as the advent of regional broadcasting on commercial television and more recent fragmenting of terrestrial TV audiences. His research also examines the harmonisation of PEBs on TV and online.
Simon Cross, ‘“There Now Follows …”: Change and Continuity in Party Election Broadcasts. Parties, People and Elections: Political Communication since 1900. Manchester People’s Museum, Manchester 14 June 2012.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Centre Launch

We now have the plans finalized for our 'official' launch event for the Centre on Wednesday 10 October 2012.  

The launch gives us an opportunity to introduce the Centre’s aims and activities, and to introduce the ways in which the outcomes of our research have an impact on a range of policies and practices. It also showcases some of our research, featuring a range of papers from staff attached to the Centre. The Centre also provides a focal point for developing research networks and we are delighted to welcome Dr Matthew Ball from Queensland University of Technology to help us launch the event. Other speakers include Dr Simon Cross, Professor Martin O'Shaugnessy, Dr Joanne Hollows and Professor Patrick Williams.

The event includes papers on TV, change and continuity in party political appeals to women; film, debt and governance; representations of Palestinians; and heteronormativity, homonormativity and the government of intimate partner violence in LGBTQ communities.

The launch takes place on Wednesday 10 October (2.00-5.00pm) in CELS001 on the Clifton Campus of NTU. Although there are a limited number of places, if you are interested in joining us, please email Joanne Hollows if you would like to attend.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Music and Inter-generational Relationships

Matt Connell has recently published an article in Popular Music based on his work on music and inter-generational relationships. His paper explores ethnographic findings gathered during his work as a DJ and academic, particularly in relation to a community arts project called Talking About Old Records. This project brings together teenagers and older people from a range of backgrounds at collaborative workshops using DJ technology and old records. These facilitate conversations about what music means to the participants.
This paper puts the emphasis on the older people, exploring the emergence of generational
musical identities from the 1940s onwards. Relationships between the spread of personal listeningtechnologies, youth musicand the birth of the teenager in the 1950s are explored in the context of older peoples fears about a loss of musical sociality, fears which are articulated against a background of cyclical manifestations of intergenerational musical conflict and scandal.

Matt Connell ‘Talking About Old Records: generational musical identity among older people’ in Popular Music (2012) Vol. 31/2, Cambridge University Press, pp. 261-278. doi: 10.1017/S0261143012000074

Friday, 24 August 2012

Launching the Centre

Our 'official' launch event is now scheduled for 10 October 2012, from 2.00-5.00 pm. With a keynote paper from Dr Matt Ball (Queensland University of Technology), the event will also showcase some of the research going on in the Centre, including papers from Dr Simon Cross and Professor Patrick Williams. More information to follow.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Visuality and Politics: Queer Media in China

On Monday 26 March 2012, we will be hosting a research workshop on Visuality and Politics: Queer Media in China. Organizied by Dr Hongwei Bao, the workshop will explore the following issues:

For Jacques Rancière (2004), the visual is intrinsically political; art and politics have in common the potential to delimit the visible and the invisible, the thinkable and the unthinkable, as well as the possible and the impossible. This is certainly true of queer art, film and activism in contemporary China. Since China began its neoliberal reforms in the early 1980s, one of the most interesting phenomena that indicates drastic social changes has been the (re-)emergence of gay identity. Same-sex desire, which used to be rendered invisible and unthinkable during China’s socialist era, began to surface in the postsocialist public discourse. With the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1997 and depathologisation of homosexuality in 2001, an increasing number of lesbians and gays have ‘come out’ to the public and have begun to demand gender and sexual equality. Many of them have chosen to use various forms of media, including painting, installation, digital video film and the Internet, to engage in political activism.

The use of media in China’s queer community poses a number of interrelated questions to scholars in media studies and queer studies: what role do the media play in queer activism in the transnational context? How do gays and lesbians ‘queer’ the use of media, if at all? How does the ‘queer media’, an exploratory term that requires definition and discussion, as a form of alternative media or ‘citizen media’, may contribute to political and social change? How do ‘queer media’ render contested socialist histories, the neoliberal present and imagined futures both visible and invisible, both thinkable and unthinkable, and both possible and impossible? How does the transnationalisation of queer theory and politics may be fraught with tensions, slippages, as well as complicated postcolonial and anti-neoliberal struggles? What can queer media practices in China inform the Western academia of issues and debates concerning alternative media, queer theory, aesthetics and politics, theory and praxis, decolonising academic knowledge production and revitalising political activism?

This workshop will bring queer scholars, filmmakers, magazine editors and artists from China and the UK into critical dialogue with each other. It will also showcase a selection of queer documentary films and queer art works made by China’s leading queer filmmakers and artists including Cui Zi’en, Wei Jiangang, Shitou and Mingming.

The event takes play  in Newton Lecture Theatre 4 at the city site of Nottingham Trent University. Participation in this workshop is free. For enquires and to book your place please contact
Dr Hongwei Bao (email:

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

PhD Research Opportunities

Students interested in pursuing research with the Centre for Inequality, Culture and Difference should follow the application process detailed in this link.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Fashioning the East-Asian Screen: conference announcement

Centre member Gary Needham is co-organizing this event with colleagues in the School of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University.


It is no coincidence that almost simultaneously in the1890s the very first issue of Vogue appears and the birth of cinema takes place. The invention of modern life involves this parallel between fashion and screen histories. However, most of the emphasis in this relationship is celebrated and documented through American and European cinema. While the relationship between fashion and Western cinemas has already been explored in a number of important publications there has been scant attention to similar themes and issues when it comes to non-Western cinemas. This two-day event seeks to address this gap both in our knowledge about fashion and the screen and the role that fashion, clothing, style, costume, and design plays in East-Asian cinemas. We are also interested in how the screen has influenced fashion cultures in the region. Furthermore, we wish to consider the concept of the screen and East-Asia in their broadest sense to include all screens not just cinema but also television to new media and similarly we intend the concept of East-Asia to be fluid and transcultural rather than limited and fixed. Our primary aim with this event is to begin to map an East-Asian context in terms of the multiple and mutual contacts between fashion and the screen. 

We seek 20 minute papers or 40 minute workshop presentations and we would invite all proposals that consider the connection between fashion and the screen in the context of East-Asia. We would like to see a spread of historical periods represented as well as different disciplinary perspectives and positions. Some suggested topics might include fashion and costume as an element of mise en scene, film stars, costume design, studio films, fashion in film magazines and film in fashion magazines, period films and fashion/costume orientated genres, fashion Orientalism in Western-Cinemas, fashion and modernity, the influence of the screen on the broader East-Asian fashion culture.
Deadline for paper submission is Friday 30th of March 2012. Please send abstracts and proposals with a short bio to Gary Needham

Event Details
This event will take place on the 3rd and 4th of May 2012 and is a collaboration between Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery running in tandem with the exhibition of Chinese textiles Living in Silk. Attendance is free but places are very limited due to the unique Castle venue and priority will be given to participants who propose a paper or workshop. There are two confirmed keynote speakers Dr Pamela Church-Gibson (London College of Fashion) and Dr Tamar Jeffers-McDonald (University of Kent). The Thursday evening reception in Nottingham Trent University’s Bonington Gallery will include a performance based installation by MA Framework students and Lucia Tong choreography for Dance4 relating to the theme of the event. 

Monday, 23 January 2012


Welcome to the website of the newly launched Centre for the Study of Inequality, Culture and Difference. While the site is currently still in development, by clicking on the tabs above, you'll be able to find out more about us and our research. Information about more of our work, more members of staff, events and working papers will follow soon.