Thursday, August 25, 2016

Male anti-authoritarianism and anti-environmentalism

Dr Angela Smith has co-written an article with Professor Philip Drake (Edge Hill University) which considers the format and cultural politics of the hugely successful UK television program Top Gear (BBC 2002–2015). 'Belligerent broadcasting, male anti-authoritarianism and anti-environmentalism: the case of Top Gear' analyzes how—through its presenting team—it constructed an informal address predicated around anti-authoritarian or contrarian banter and protest masculinity. Regular targets for Top Gear presenter’s protest—curtailed by broadcast guidelines in terms of gender and ethnicity—are deflected onto the “soft” targets of government legislation on environmental issues or various forms of regulation “red tape. Repeated references to speed cameras, central London congestion charges and “excessive” signage are all anti-authoritarian, libertarian discourses delivered through a comedic form of performance address. Thus, the BBC’s primary response to complaints made about this program was to defend the program’s political views as being part of the humour. The article draws on critical discourse analysis and conversation analysis to consider how the program licensed a particular form of engagement that helped it to deflect criticisms, and considers the limits to such discursive positioning. The article concludes by examining the controversies that finally led, in 2015, to the removal of the main presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, and the ending of this version of the program through the departure of the team to an on-demand online television service.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A terrible beauty is bought

The journal Irish Studies Review is shortly to publish a special commemorative 1916 edition entitled ‘Commemorating Connolly’. Amongst the seven invited papers for the issue is an article by Dr Alison Younger entitled 'A terrible beauty is bought: 1916, commemoration and commodification'. Mindful of Benedict Anderson’s emphasis in Imagined Communities on the power of print culture – and print-capitalism – to shape and share national ideas and identities, her article offers a comparative analysis of the commemorations in Ireland of 1798 and 1916 by looking at commemorative ephemera: kitschy memorabilia, themed merchandise, newspaper cuttings and advertisements, handbills and inventively branded commodities, as important cultural texts which purveyed ideological values and meanings at the time of their production. It suggests that the consumer sphere allows us to shed light on the commemorative discourses these ephemeral objects produce, retelling and retailing the risings in question. Texts often regarded as throwaway or lowbrow vied for their share in the ideological marketplace to form part of the heritage of 1798 and 1916, the centenary of the one feeding into the ferment of the other. The reception and representation of the pivotal figures of Wolfe Tone and James Connolly is discussed through the prism of Thomas Richards’ conception of commodity culture, and attention is paid to counter-commemorative strands as well as positive rhetorics of remembrance.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fourth edition of Codex out now

Every summer, the Department of Culture publishes a selection of some of the best dissertations in English, History & Politics and Languages in its online scholarly journal Codex. This year topics range from the representation of witches in Early Modern English drama to classroom discourse. Read the articles here.


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