SACS working paper series – SACS-o

Launch of SACS working paper series – SACS-o

We are pleased to announce the launch of the School of Arts and Cultures first online Working Papers series – SACS-o (ISSN 2399-8725). The series received funding for its establishment from the School’s Research Committee and we are pleased to acknowledge that support here.

The SACS-o Working Papers series is an online, academic series which publishes research papers and shorter works-in-progress by emerging and established scholars working in the broad domains of media, culture and heritage, based at Newcastle University or one of its collaborating partner institutions. The series publishes novel findings which are immediately open access, making content easily and freely available which we hope will increase audience, visibility, citations and impact.

The first paper, UK General Election 2015: Dealing with Austerity, is authored by Massimo Ragnedda and Maria Laura Ruiu (both Northumbria University). You can read the article here Current issue. This is the first in a linked set of papers to be published by a group of colleagues from Newcastle and Northumbria Universities who worked together on a series of sub-projects focused on the UK General Election 2015.

We have two more papers in the publications pipeline and are seeking new contributions, so please consider publishing in the series. We would also be grateful if you would forward this email and spread the news about the series to other colleagues who might be interested in contributing papers.  The guidelines for submission can be found here Submission and guidelines.

We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, please email Tobias Bürger (

Karen Ross and Tobias Bürger




Museums, health and wellbeing: reflections on impacts and methods



Friday, January 27, 3-5pm, Armstrong Building, 2.90

Museums, health and wellbeing: reflections on impacts and methods 

Presenters: Prof Andrew Newman, Dr Bruce Davenport (both Newcastle University), Dr Nuala Morse (The University of Manchester/UCL Culture) and Zoë Brown (Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives)

Chair: Bethany Rex (Newcastle University)

Nuala Morse*, Zoë Brown*, Linda Thomson (UCL Culture), Wendy Gallagher (Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester), Helen Chatterjee (UCL Division of Biosciences and UCL Culture): “Museum-focused activities in person-centred dementia care:  Research methodologies with hospital patients”

*presenting authors

The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book

This study investigates the efficacy of museum-focused activities in supporting dementia care, in acute medical wards and inpatient dementia services. There is currently increased interest in using non-pharmacological interventions to target behavioural symptoms of moderate and late stage dementia such as aggression, anxiety and wandering. Museum-focused activities are proposed as a means of providing relief from these symptoms and meaningful creative activities. The study developed a methodology to assess the effect of the activities ‘in the moment’ and their short-term effect. It has been recognised that interventions with small but meaningful short-term effect are important in supporting dementia care (Pinquart et al, 2006).

Participants (n=<14) took part in weekly museum-focused activities for 6 weeks (Sept 2016-Jan 2017). Mixed methods were used comprising session observation, pre and post-session assessment of occupational therapist rated mood, social interaction and agitation (before session, 2 hours and 24 hours after session) and interviews with staff at the programme end. This work-in-progress presentation will describe the challenges of developing fit-for-purpose and gentle methodologies for researching the impact of museum-focused activities for people with dementia.

Andrew Newman: “The connectivity and social capital of people in later life with dementia: a qualitative analysis of data collected from Dementia and Imagination.”

This paper explores the connectivity and social capital (through which the value of relationships can be understood) of people in later life living with dementia. This is achieved through the analysis of qualitative data collected from a UK national research project entitled Dementia and Imagination which was funded by the ESRC and the AHRC. This involved people in later life with dementia, of various types and severity, undertaking visual arts enrichment activities at three sites in the UK.

The importance of social networks for the wellbeing of older people is well established in the literature for example, Gray (2009), Cornwall (2009), Grundy and Sloggett (2003), Pinquart and Sorensen (2000) and Litwin and Shiovitz, (2006) amongst others. However, despite associations between being embedded in social capital rich networks and reduced incidence of dementia being identified (Fratigioni et al. 2000), we know little about the lived experience of connectivity for those living with the condition.

There was a reported reduction in the size of networks and changes in the balance of the sorts of relationships they represented and the resources they provided access to in comparison to when respondents were cognitively or/and physically healthier. It was evident that some were lacking in opportunities for emotional relationships that they could contribute to as well as receive support from. This situation was more noticeable for those in care homes, with generally more advanced dementia (and sometimes frailty). The visual arts enrichment activity provided an opportunity to reconnect with others and to provide and receive emotional support.  As is noted by Ferlander (2007) emotional support has ‘positive impacts upon health, especially mental health, mainly via psychological mechanisms, such as personal control and stress reduction’ (p. 123).

Bruce Davenport: “Creative activities for people with dementia: expressions of personal identity and the practices of care in residential care settings.”

As part of the Dementia & Imagination project, programmes of 6, weekly creative workshops were delivered with people with dementia in 3 different settings in 3 parts of the UK: people living in care-homes (in the north-east of England), people in assessment centres and out-patient wards in hospitals (in the Midlands) and people living in private accommodation (in North Wales). This paper focuses on the workshops delivered in care-home and hospital settings.

The workshops in care homes involved people with dementia, the carers who worked in the care-homes and, more rarely, family members. In the hospital settings, the people with dementia were accompanied by nursing staff and, occasionally, by family members. The impact of the workshops were assessed using a variety of methods; this paper focuses on the data from qualitative interviews with participants and carers, artists’ diaries, open questions about participants’ experiences. The qualitative interviews were carried out before the workshops began, immediately after the end of the programme and 3 months later. The open questions were asked during a data gathering session immediately after the end of the programme.

The creative workshops focused on sensory stimulation and responding to each participants’ interests and expressive abilities. Nonetheless, the workshops evoked moments of reminiscence, social interaction and other expressions of personal identity. Models of quality care such as relationship-centred care, and person-centred care, recommend that carers develop an understanding of residents and patients in care and hospital settings. Whilst the value of reminiscence remains a topic for debate, the data from the interviews indicates that these moments fed into the carers’ understandings of the participants and their interactions with them. This implies a range of secondary pathways to impact from the workshops, through changes to carers and family members, rather than the direct impact of participation for the people with dementia.

The same models of care also advocate opportunities for residents to experience personal autonomy and experience being valued by others. The data indicate that the practices used by the artists were consonant with these models. The qualitative interview data indicates that the skills that the artists’ brought to the workshops were variously recognised, critiqued and resisted by the care and nursing staff.

The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book


Gender and News

Wednesday, January 18, 3-5pm, Armstrong 2.90

Gender and News

Presenters: Prof Karen Ross & Prof Deborah Chambers

Chair: Dr David Baines (all Newcastle University)

Karen Ross: “Women, men and news: the same old, same old”
Despite the presence of women on the local, national and global stage at all levels of decision-making, in numerous positions of executive authority, they continue to be marginalised in news media as sources and newsmakers. Despite entering media organisations in similar numbers to men, they do not rise as far or as fast and are often steered towards the less prestigious areas of journalism. This presentation discusses recent trends in the awkward relations between gender and journalism, identifies some of the good practices which have been implemented suggests some which are yet to be implemented.

Deborah Chambers: “Twentieth century women journalists and the ‘women’s pages’: soft news or a counterpublic sphere?”
Deborah presents a unique account of the key interventions of women writers across newspapers in post-war Britain. Approaching news as a site of inequality and difference, she traces the ways women spearheaded the introduction of new topics and styles in print to attract women readers and audiences. Despite being sidelined as trivial journalism, it was through the women’s pages and features that women introduced innovative news about women’s lives. Deborah argues that, against probability, this new feminised discourse emerged as a ‘counterpublic sphere’ that popularised feminism.
The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book.


Brexit After Party II – Implications for teaching and research ’round-table’

We are delighted to announce the details of the next seminar in the MCH seminar series. This is part two of the Brexit After Party and will be held in Armstrong 2.90 from 1-2.30pm on Wednesday, December 14. Refreshments will be provided.

We have contributions from Rhiannon Mason and Darren Kelsey. These will be short presentations which will leave plenty of time for a discussion, to be chaired by Areti Galani.

All are welcome to attend


Special Issue of Museum & Society: Call for Papers

pexels-photo-137038Special Issue of Museum & Society: Call for Papers

Call for papers for a Special Issue of Museum & Society – Museum Methods: Researching the Museum as Institution.


Nuala Morse, University of Manchester and University College London

Bethany Rex, University of Newcastle

Sarah Richardson, University of Leeds

Research in museums takes many forms; however, there has been significantly less work investigating the museum through institutional or organisational lenses. Overall, museum studies as a disciplinary field has tended to favour textual readings of museums, focused on the poetics of exhibitions or audience meaning-making through single gallery case studies. Some notable exceptions have increased our understanding of the internal workings of museums (Macdonald, 2001; Bouquet 2002; Zolberg, 1984), but there has been less work that has engaged with the museum in its entirety, attending to the complexity and multiplicity of its functions: as public institution, as corporate organisation, as space of representation, as educational establishment, as archive and collection store, and as legal entity with different governance arrangements. This is important to consider at a time where museum functions are arguably further expanding, notably as the funding structures of museums are changing.

Critically, there has been little offered in terms of methodological starting points to these concerns: the question of how to research the museum is rarely addressed, and on the whole, methodology is a subject that has mostly been absent from museum studies. As a distinctly interdisciplinary field, museum studies has embraced a range of diverse methods but without really addressing what ‘museum methodologies’ might usefully (and critically) encompass. Thinking about the multiple functions of museums briefly highlighted above, there has been a particular lack of engagement with institutional and organisational methods for researching museums.

This special issue aims to address this important gap, by focusing on methods for researching the museum as both institution and as organisation. The editorial will address the implications of these distinct concerns. The understanding of institutional and organisational methods advanced here takes inspiration from moves in geography, STS and cognate disciplines where a focus on processes, situated practices and organisational dispositions (Pallett and Chilvers 2014) has been coupled with a rich expansion in methodological sensibilities. In a turn away from strictly self-reflexive narratives of methodologies chosen and employed, this expansion has also advanced a heightened recognition of the consequences of our research practices and their politics. The special issue wishes to push a similar expansion in studies of the museum.

We are interested in methodological approaches that take the museum as an object of organisational and/or institutional concern. The unifying concern of the special issue is to investigate the bureaucratic features of museums: the rules, norms and codes of conduct through which museums are organised, as well as the mundane administrative dimensions and working practices of museums and their effects, We are looking for papers that address museum bureaucracies through a variety of museum activities such as management, development, education, community engagement, leadership, and exhibitions.

We therefore welcome papers focused on the topics below:

  • The institutional life of museum, including how the everyday practices of professionals make up museum-work worlds
  • The museum and understandings of bureaucracy
  • Particular features of museums as organisations, for example, professional amnesia
  • Organisational/Institutional rules in museums and how they affect practice
  • The social life of methods in museums
  • How institutional/organisational methods can be used as a site of critique
  • How can researching museums speak to other ways of understanding other institutions.

We are particularly interested in papers that draw upon methods developed in other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and organisational studies and explore how they can be applied with the museum as object of research. This might include embedded approaches, including organisational/institutional ethnography (Ybema, et al., 2009; Cefkin, 2010), Participatory Action Research (Cameron, 2007), systems theory approaches (Bateson, 2001), and socio-material approaches, including Actor-Network Theory (Latour, 2005; Fenwick et al, 2015).

Potential authors:

The focus on the Special Issue is on methods: each paper must provide a clear contribution to developing methodologies for researching museums and their institutional, organisational and bureaucratic work, and may also debate the practicalities, promise and politics of such approaches across different international contexts. Papers will provide either theoretically informed pieces that outline methodological ‘road maps’ for exploring how museums function, or empirical methods papers that open up alternative ways of thinking about museums. Potential authors are encouraged to submit an abstract that will be reviewed by the editors. Abstracts should be between 300 and 400 words. Authors will then be invited to submit a full manuscript and all submissions will be subject to a peer review process.


Submission guidelines:

Manuscripts length will be between 5,000 and 8,000 words, following the journal guidelines. The journal guidelines are available here.


19 December 2016: authors to send abstracts to editors.

16 January 2017: editors notify authors whether the abstract has been accepted.

30 June 2017: authors to send first drafts of full manuscript to editors.

Manuscripts will then be sent to peer review, and papers invited for a ‘revise and resubmit’ will be due in early 2018. The special issue will be published in 2018.

Please send your abstract or any queries to Nuala Morse –

We look forward to receiving your contribution!

Nuala Morse, Bethany Rex and Sarah Richardson

Brexit After Party: Implications for Teaching and Research, Roundtable event


As part of the MCH Seminar series, our next event is on Wednesday, 12 October between 1pm and 2pm, and looks at the implications of Brexit for teaching and research.

Contributors: Areti Galani, Darren Kelsey, Majid Khosravanik, Rhiannon Mason

This event looks at how we might change what we teach and research as a consequence of Brexit and the numerous effects that it is having and will continue to have for higher education. The format is round-table with contributors offering some preliminary insights and then opening the discussion to the wider audience. We look forward to seeing you at this event which kicks off the MCH Seminar Series 2016-17.

Wednesday, October 12, 1pm – 2pm at Armstrong Building 2.90, Newcastle University 

Everyone is welcome, feel free to bring your lunch 


Call for Papers: Discourse, Culture and Politics

An interdisciplinary symposium in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Hosted by the Newcastle Critical Discourse Group (NCDG)

Wednesday 18th May 2016, 11am-5pm, Newcastle University, KGVI.LT1

The NCDG is organizing a half-day symposium for PhD researchers across the social sciences. This would be a great opportunity for PGR students at all stages to present their work, get feedback and build networks across the faculty through a friendly and supportive environment. The event is not limited to research in critical discourse studies. We invite submissions on any topic related the theme of the symposium.

– If you would like to present you can reserve a place on the symposium programme by sending a title and abstract (150-250 words) to Pomelo ( and May ( ) by 5pm on Sunday 15th May 2016.

– Alongside your title and abstract, please include your full contact details and a brief biographical note (your name, your school & university)

– Please also specify in which stage of your PhD research you think you are (e.g. early, middle or final stage).

– Presentations will be around 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for Q&A

– The symposium will be closed with a round-table discussion, chaired by Majid Khosravinik and Darren Kelsey to ask further questions and continue discussion on general issues of research at PhD level

– PhD students in Newcastle University HASS faculty are strongly encouraged to attend and present at this event

– Fellow PhD researchers from other universities are also very welcome. We would love to hear about other research environments

– Please feel welcome to join us and attend this unique event even if you are not delivering a paper. The full event programme will be made available in advance of the day.

– If you do wish to present but you would like to attend, please send an email to our organising team (lunch will be provided if you confirm your attendance in advance): Suwannamas Lekngam (Pomelo) at Mesirin Kwanjai (May) at

Thank you and we hope to see you at the symposium.

Best wishes

Organising committee members