Sailing close to the wind, with the Lincoln WI

IMG_1448.JPGThe public engagement element of my job is one of my favourite bits of being an academic. So whenever I’m invited to talk I’ll always try and make it, work and life permitting. As a result last night I was very pleased to be guest speaker at the Lincoln WI.

I’ve visited and spoken to a number of Women’s Institute branches in the last few years and I’ve never had a bad experience, but Lincoln WI are certainly one of my favourites. I’d previously spoken at one of their meetings about two years ago, along with my friend and performer Storme Chaser. Our talk had been about the British burlesque community and its feminist roots. They were a really receptive, fun audience with lots of interesting questions and many of them wanted to have a go with the set of oversize, ostrich feather fans I’d taken with me. I’d even got some them to have a go at doing a glove removal routine to the David Rose Orchestra’s ‘The Stripper,’ much to the amusement of the other members.

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‘I’m Ready For My Close Up’: My blog for the IAMHIST website on the Hollywood Glamour Photograph

 

dietrichA few months ago Llewella Chapman, PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia, asked me would I like to write a blog for the International Association for Media and History website. Its a cracking organisation so I excitedly agreed.

The International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST) is a scholarly organization which brings together media historians, media scholars and professionals with an interest in media history. You can find them on Twitter at @iamhist

My blog on the Hollywood Glamour Photograph appeared on  the IAMHIST website last week and can be accessed here:

http://iamhist.org/2017/05/hollywood-glamour-photograph/

But it is also reproduced below:

Considering Hollywood’s reliance upon photography between the teens and the 1960s, as a means of promoting, shaping and altering star images, the photographic representation of stars remains a peculiarly underdeveloped area of star studies. This is a real missed opportunity, as these images can offer considerable insights into the construction of film stardom and the pleasures Continue reading

Feminist Media Histories: Bunny Yeager podcast!

14449826_588230834694600_8832240371205123592_nI’m featured in the first ever Feminist Media Histories podcast! Sharing air time with the wonderful Hilary Hallett and Lois Banner, all talking about our contributions to the current issue of FMH on Histories of Celebrity with Feminist Media Histories editor Shelley Stamp.

In the interview i discuss my work on Bunny Yeager and 1960s celebrity culture, which features in the current issue (for more details, see previous posts). So give it a listen and if you’re feeling fruity, give it a share too. The podcast also includes the special issue’s guest editor Hilary A. Hallett talking about gender and histories of celebrity, and an interview with Lois Banner, whose article concentrates on the feminism of the Great Garbo.

 

Bunny Yeager article – out now

Well… Its out! My article ‘Having Her Cheesecake and Eating It: Performance, Professionalism, and the Politics of the Gaze in the Pinup Self-Portraiture of Bunny Yeager’ on the  agency and professional celebrity of ‘the world’s prettiest photographer’ is up there on the Feminist Media Histories page.

The issue also features Jennifer Clark’s article on celebrity performances and television labor practices of The Gypsy Rose Lee Show. I’m really looking forward to reading this!

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Bunny Yeager was a pinup model and photographer who appeared on TV and in exploitation films, while creating pinups Continue reading

Watch the Birdie: Celebrity, Group Selfies and Twitter

My article ‘Watch the Birdie: The Star Economy, Social Media and the Celebrity Group Selfie’ is published this month in the Meccsa online journal Networking Knowledge, who have produced a special edition on Identity, Aesthetics and Power in Digital Self-representation entitled Be Your Selfie.

My essay explores some of the broader implications of celebrity group selfies, through the example of Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded group shot, taken during the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony, Joan Collins’ 2014 Prince’s Trust Award selfie, just days after, and Collins’ subsequent ‘view from the other side’ tweet; exploring notions of authenticity, performance, intimacy, self-promotion, public visibility, identification, imitation, vicarious consumption and audience participation.

Engaging with existing work upon celebrity tweeters, Twitter and other online fandom, photographic theory, star studies and, in particular, Bourdieu’s theories surrounding cultural capital, taste formation, and cultural distinctions, this work not only explores some of the reasons behind the frequently negative judgements of celebrity group selfies, but also seeks to identify some of the very real social functions and more personal gratifications, both for celebrity and fan, that the celebrity group selfie, as a communication and a self-promotional tool, may actually satisfy.

More specifically, it is this paper’s contention that selfies offer an ostensibly unmediated, accessible and virtually instantaneous means of articulating and disseminating a coherent, identifiable, aspirational (yet bizarrely, also, seemingly ‘ordinary’) and eminently marketable star image, via a popular and up-to-date medium. With celebrity group selfies this is also the case, but here the photographer subject presents an image of themselves to the world, in relation to a specific group of peers (who themselves also function as signifiers and commodities); perpetuating the notion of a pantheon of star ‘gods’ and the myth of a coherent celebrity community; reinforcing the divide between ‘famouses’ and ‘normals’ and participants and observers; prompting an exponential rise in fan/public interest as more stars enter the equation and allowing the celebrity participants within the image to either borrow some of the greater ‘worth’, ‘status’ or cultural capital of other, more eminent, celebrity subjects also pictured or alternatively, lend their superior cultural capital to less successful celebrities within the image.

As such, in this this essay I seek to move beyond a hasty dismissal of such images, their subjects, and their audiences and instead, hypothesise a coherent set of reasons why the most-photographed individuals on the planet (not just film stars, but heads of state and religious leaders) might feasibly choose to create, appear in and/or disseminate such images (or, indeed, decline to participate as did Prince Charles in Joan Collins’ group shot) and why the public may find these images of such interest.

Watch the Birdie: The Cultural Politics of Twitter and the Celebrity Group Selfie

Networking Knowledge

Volume 8 Issue 6

(December 2015)

Special Edition – Be Your Selfie: Identity, Aesthetics and Power in Digital Self-representation

Guest editors Laura Busetta and Valerio Coladonato