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)
Tell us a bit about yourself Oliver?
What was your undergraduate degree?
I studied History and Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. A great city and would highly advise people to visit it, especially if they know people who live there.
Why did you choose to do a Masters?
I enjoyed my time at Sheffield and would love to do it all again, however, I was rather disappointed to graduate with a 2:2, especially because nearly everyone I knew got a 2:1.
After Graduating, I had no idea what I wanted to do. After three months’ voluntary work in Sri Lanka with Project Sri Lanka, I immediately started working to save some money and decide what I wanted to do. I ended up at Starbucks and decided to take a year out to save for a trip around the U.S.
My American trip was one of the best things I have ever done, however after I had done it, I realised I needed to think about my career. Having a 2:2 degree is no terrible thing, and many go onto great success with one. However, I personally felt a good Masters in addition to my degree would catch the eye of an employer. However, the next step was to save up money to pay for a Masters and to actually decide what to study!
Why Public Relations?
I loved History and Philosophy, however I didn’t think doing a Masters in either subject would benefit me. I wanted to do something that would help me develop new skills and learn something new, rather than learning a period of history that I had already done in more detail.
I looked into Journalism; I love football and follow it regularly on many different media platforms, so debated whether to become a football reporter or writer. However, journalism is incredibly competitive now, with not a lot of opportunities available, so I looked elsewhere.
I then came across PR. I didn’t know much about it, but I knew that it was about the importance of reputation and how an organisation or person is perceived. Personally, I’m always aware of how I’m perceived by others, and hate being in people’s ‘bad books’. Additionally, working for a global brand like Starbucks, I was used to week in week out having to provide excellent customer service as to not negatively effect my store or the company’s reputation. Along with the writing and analytical skills I had gained from by degree, I felt PR looked a promising route to take.
Why did you choose to study at Newcastle study?
Firstly, through word of mouth. I had heard there was a good PR course there. I did some research, looked at the course myself and it looked very interesting. Not only was it PR that I would be studying, but also Media, which also looked interesting and appealing. All in all, I got the impression that I would learn a lot from the course, both knowledge and skills.
Another key factor for choosing Newcastle was location. I live and work in Darlington and couldn’t afford to pay for a Masters AND move away from home. Darlington is only a half an hour train commute to Newcastle, so I didn’t have to travel far to get to uni… It just meant I couldn’t roll out of bed ten minutes before a lecture!
What did you enjoy most about studying for the Masters?
I would be lying if I said I had not been anxious before starting it. Part of me was worried about discovering PR wasn’t what I wanted to do, or that I wouldn’t like the course. Especially as I was paying for it all out of my own (and family’s) pocket. However, thankfully this was not the case; I thoroughly enjoyed the course. I learned so much and I genuinely felt enlightened by the end of it. I perceived what I saw in the media completely differently, and learned just how important reputation was to an organisation.
I enjoyed learning about the theory of PR; the history of it and the key components of it. I enjoyed the media studies module learning how to analyse media; there was so much I was unaware of. I also had the option to take a degree module in advertising and consumption which was another highlight; I didn’t appreciate the amount of thought that goes in to making adverts.
The practical element was good too; I felt I was genuinely developing new skills by learning how to write a press release, how to plan a PR campaign, or how to react to a PR crisis. A special shout out also must go out to Laurel and Jonathan who taught the course. Laurel doesn’t talk at you in a lecture, she continually asks you questions, often regarding hypothetical situations to check our understanding of what we were learning and apply it. Jonathan was great to have as a seminar tutor too for the same reasons; always trying to encourage discussion and ensure we were understanding theory to be able to apply it to hypothetical situations.
Regarding doing a Masters itself, I found the seminars intellectually stimulating, they never felt like a waste of time. If anything, I wish they had been longer than they were! I enjoyed taking part in discussion and debate with lecturers who knew what they were talking about and could explain things clearly in an engaging way.
What did you find most challenging?
When writing essays, it was always a pain trying to ensure a good essay was under the word count. It meant ensuring that I was concise and selective with what I was writing. However, this was an important thing to practice as it is important to make sure what you write is concise when writing press releases, and especially tweets.
How did you manage the balance between work and studying?
I worked part-time at Starbucks throughout my whole year of study at Newcastle. I went down from 30 hours to 16. This meant balancing three days of work a week with travelling to Newcastle for lectures and seminars, as well as reading, researching and writing essays.
It meant often having to do a morning shift before an afternoon at Uni, or sometimes rushing from Uni to get back to work to do an afternoon shift. I often also had to work nearly every weekend, so days off to do academic work or socialise were a rarity.
This was probably the hardest part of my Masters, especially when doing my dissertation as ideally those extra days off would have made researching and writing less stressful. However I needed income and I wanted to continue my relationship with Starbucks, in case I had an opportunity to apply for a PR role with them. It also oddly provided me a distraction from University as sometimes you could think too much about academic work.
Practically, doing the course helped me apply PR and marketing skill running my store’s social media accounts.
What advice would you give to our current Masters students?
Plan your time well before an assignment. I felt I was quite good at this. I always ensured I had a week to do one, including research, looking for and choosing appropriate quotes, and writing it.
Regarding the actual dissertation, I would advise knowing what you want to be your topic for it, as the research is the most time consuming. However, I appreciate that new topics are constantly appearing out of nowhere. When I started choosing a topic, Brexit had just happened, and I was tempted to change my mind and choose that as my topic. However, try your best to have an idea, and then try to contact potential interviews as soon as possible.
I would also ensure you keep up to date with current affairs. Laurel and Jonathan would give us weekly pop quiz tests to check how are we all were of that week’s news events. I always knew most of the answers. My advice to easily keep up to date would be to follow news sources such as The Guardian, BBC News, Buzzfeed etc. on Facebook. You’re a lot more likely to see an article when scrolling through social media in your spare time as I’m aware it can be a bit overwhelming reading through a whole newspaper or news website. Additionally, the articles on social media will often be news stories being talked about the most, with the ability to see people’s comments; this is incredibly useful when analysing public opinion and how something or someone is perceived.
How did you land your position with Northstar Ventures?
After an intense summer completing and handing in my dissertation, I took a month to just relax and work part-time at Starbucks whilst going on a few trips away to socialise a bit. Some people job searched straight away, but for me personally I needed the break before looking for jobs.
Northstar Ventures came about after seeing a paid internship on the Newcastle University Careers Service site. Northstar is a venture capital firm which invests in innovative, high growth businesses and social enterprises across the North East. It provides entrepreneurs with the support they need to fulfil their ambitions and to achieve social impact through Northstar’s investments.
I knew of the company as Laura Richards worked there, who was a previous star student of the Media & PR course that I had just done, and had done a few informative talks for the PR students. The role was to be a PR and Marketing assistant working with her at the company. It was a fantastic opportunity to work and learn from an up and coming PR practitioner at a firm like Northstar (Laura has recently been awarded Outstanding Young Communicator at this year’s CIPR North East PRide Awards!).
I’m incredibly grateful that I impressed in the interview and have been given this opportunity to do a 10 week part-time paid internship at Northstar. I have already learned so much from Laura, and Northstar, and have got an idea of what working in PR and marketing in the real world feels like. It has been such a great experience.
What does your day involve?
Typically, my day involves first by checking emails, checking news for any coverage of Northstar or their portfolio companies. I am responsible for social media content and sometimes share relevant news, informing followers of local events, especially if events Northstar are involved in or linked with. If I do find coverage of Northstar or our portfolio companies, I will make sure it is tweeted about.
Other things I do is write press release or blog drafts drafts, which then may be tweaked when needed. However, Laura is very good at giving me useful feedback on what I write and I always take it on board. I already feel like I am developing my skills and improving in my role. I am then also tasked with sending press releases out, updating contacts and also to update the website when needed.
What aspects of your MA have proved most useful in your role?
The clearest example of using skills learned from my MA would be learning how to write press releases. In addition, it is not necessarily direct skills that I am applying to my role, but understanding why I’m doing what I’m doing and the importance it has.
How do you see your career progressing?
Now I officially have a Masters to put on my CV, in addition to great experience gained at Northstar Ventures, I feel this will be highly advantageous when applying for jobs. I love the idea or being in PR, marketing and advertising. I am trying to look into working at head office at Starbucks in a PR/marketing role. Due to the skills and knowledge I have gained and my experience working as a Barista, working face to face daily with their stakeholders, I feel I would have a lot to offer. However, I am perfectly willing to look elsewhere, whether that is in the North East, London, or even abroad (New York would be amazing, wouldn’t it?).
What is the best advice you can give for anyone considering a Masters degree?
Make sure it is something you are interested in. In my situation, I chose it to develop skills in a career I was interested in. Has it been worth it? Well right now I can only say that I have learned a lot. I’ll let you know in five years to see where it has taken me and confirm why someone should do a Masters.
If anyone would like advice regarding their masters or PR, or to follow how my career after university goes, feel free to follow or/and contact me on Twitter (@OGMCookie) or email email@example.com.
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
Hosted in cooperation with Politics, for this seminar we are delighted to welcome Dr Debbie Lisle (Queen’s University Belfast).
Crisis in Slow motion: the stubborn habits of migration
This paper contests the temporal ordering of crisis and emergency that framed EU migration during the summer of 2015 and continues to shape official responses to the supposed ‘weakening’ of Europe’s borders.
Focusing specifically on arrival and reception experiences on the Greek island of Kos, this paper thinks with and alongside the encounters that are occluded by dominant crisis-framings in government, policy, media and activist circles. It begins by exploring the mundane actions, daily habits and embodied rhythms of simply getting on in the midst of a crisis – the stubborn and often indifferent acts of living, persisting and moving despite the claim of emergency.
Of particular interest here are the everyday human / non-human relations that persist in repetitive acts of daily living (e.g. washing, eating, playing) as well as the complex relationships that people on the move have with objects (e.g. backpacks, smartphones). Focusing on these embodied and material relations is one way to visualize not only the rich, vibrant agencies that persist in and through moments of crisis, but also the non-spectacular moments of solidarity, care and circulation that contest dominant modes of abjection and rescue.
The seminar is free and is open to all interested in attending. No need to book.
With the Museums Association’s annual conference taking place this week in Glasgow, we turn our attention to MCH’s Dr Susannah Eckersley and her current role as Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, Germany.
Conference themes this week include museums as places of sanctuary and refuge and as public spaces for debates around migration, identity and the refugee crisis. Susannah’s research compliments those themes well with her project analysing the responses of museums and their audiences to migration.
Susannah has also contributed to the ‘thinking through migration’ website and toolkit for museums, which will be presented at the Museums Conference this week http://thinkingthroughmigration.com
This project analyses the responses of museums and their audiences to migration, in connection with material traces of these pasts, linking traumatic memory theories with material culture theories. It explores the potential affective power of ‘authentic’ objects in the museum context in influencing how contemporary audiences situate themselves in relation to constructions of the past.
Researcher: Dr Susannah Eckersley, Lecturer in Museum, Gallery & Heritage Studies at Newcastle University, and from October to December 2016 Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam, Germany, as part of the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Historical Authenticity’.
Could you tell me a bit about the work you’ll be doing during your Fellowship?
During the Fellowship in Potsdam I will be undertaking new empirical research on contemporary and historical migration, the ways in which it is presented and addressed by museums, particularly in Berlin, and how this is received by audiences. I will also be using the libraries of the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam and the Institute for Museum Research in Berlin, and making the most of being away from my normal workplace to focus on some writing.
And when did you first become interested in the role of museum in relation to displacement and forced migration?
Probably mainly during my time working as a researcher on the MeLA project – a European Commission funded project on European museums in an Age of Migrations (http://www.mela-project.polimi.it/) – which I worked on from 2011 to 2015. Within the Newcastle team working on MeLA, I focussed on the overall question of the connections between migration and museums, looking not only at ‘Migration Museums’ as such, but perhaps more accurately, at how migration – as ever-present within human history – is a part of every museum, whether the museum recognises this or not. In addition I took individual responsibility for undertaking research on displacement and forced migration as one of several forms of migration, investigating this through an analysis of various museums. My existing knowledge of German museums, and of the German history of displacement and forced migration following German border changes at the end of World War II put me in an excellent position to examine this issue through a number of German case studies.
Can you point us to some examples of projects that you feel responds to the difficult heritage of forced migration in a particularly interesting, or challenging way?
There are currently a great many museum and heritage projects focussing on migration, particularly in response to the ‘refugee crisis’, to the point that in some circles it has – I’m sorry to say – almost become ‘fashionable’ to work on migration.
Nonetheless, there are projects which seem to be laying new ground for museum and heritage work in Germany, with migration apparently acting as a kind of catalyst for change – one example of this, I would suggest, is Multaka, a project developed by the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin together with young Syrians (http://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/museum-fuer-islamische-kunst/collection-research/research-coopeation/multaka.html).
A newly-opened museum I visited recently which covers the long history of migration, displacement and resettlement in Germany is the Museum Friedland (http://www.museum-friedland.de/de/). This takes a photographic and archival approach to presenting migration, but interestingly, as it is located on the edges of one of Germany’s main Grenzdurchgangslager (Border Transit Camps) it not only works together on projects with (and for) those living temporarily in the camp, but also offers a ‘Museum Trail’ – sensitively carried out walking tours of the transit camp and town, focussing on sites of relevance to historical migrations and the contemporary migrant experience. These tours are led by individuals with personal experiences of the camp, either migrants themselves, inhabitants of the small town within which the transit camp is embedded or volunteers and staff at the camp.
Other projects dealing with forced migration specifically, include the controversial plans for a Centre against Expulsions (http://www.z-g-v.de/), which has long been the subject of debate both inside and beyond Germany, due to its history of problematic political connections and challenging ideological standpoints. The more recent Foundation for Flight, Expulsion, Reconciliation (http://www.sfvv.de), under the umbrella of a committee from the German Historical Museum and the German government, are currently developing a new documentation and exhibition centre in Berlin as a response to this controversial initiative, so it will be particularly interesting to see how this develops.
I take it you’ll be looking at the response of museums in Germany in particular. Is there something distinctive about the German response for you? Why Germany?
My interest in recent German history stems from my undergraduate studies in German, as well as from my own personal background as a bilingual, British-German dual national. Germany has experienced so many extremes of political, social and cultural orders and disruptions over the past century, and this has inevitably had an impact on the whole of German society, its politics and its culture. Museums – institutions at the intersection between society, politics and culture – offer a fascinating insight into this past, and its continuing impact on the present. The way in which Germany responded to the recent ‘European refugee crisis’ and the large numbers of people seeking refuge was unique within Europe, but has also had serious political consequences. While it has acted as a catalyst for previously unseen large-scale public displays of divisions within German society and politics (for example PEGIDA and the AfD), it may also be a catalyst for change within society and in museum practices, recognising the need for and value of dialogue both within and beyond the confines of the museum. The recent influx of refugees and migrants is inevitably changing German society at a speed and in ways which had perhaps not been considered, but which open up the possibility for new ways of – and the necessity for – thinking about belonging and identity.
What will you be reading over the coming months? Which texts do you find yourself referring to most regularly when you’re writing?
Of course, I will make sure that I read those German-language publications on the topics of migration, museums, belonging and identity which are not available easily in the UK, but I will also be going ‘back to basics’ to re-read some of the key works in heritage and museum studies as well as critical and cultural theory – the multiple day-to-day demands of teaching, university administration, Erasmus coordination, student support and research project management which I am temporarily leaving behind can crowd out the mind, so this is a wonderful opportunity to refresh my intellectual faculties!
The Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, has put out a call for fellows in 2017. More information can be found at http://www.leibniz-historische-authentizitaet.de/en/start/
Understanding the construction of artistic identity and how some people are recognised as artists and some objects/ideas and performances are recognised as art, while others are not, has led Emma to her current work exploring the spatial politics of art as well as young people’s engagement with contemporary art both in and out of the gallery space. In August 2016, Emma was appointed Early Career Academic Fellow in Media, Culture and Heritage.
Why did you choose to go into museum studies?
I didn’t! I originally trained in Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, then as an English Language teacher, and only after that started volunteering in museums and galleries. It seemed like the perfect job, so I did my MA here in Newcastle in Art Museum and Gallery Education and then worked as an intern in Glasgow for the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art (GI), the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts), and worked in the Theatre Royal at night. While I was doing that I put in the PhD application – I’d enjoyed my MA so much I wanted to come back – but I never really felt like I was choosing one particular field of study. Museum studies is really interdisciplinary, and in my work I tend to lean on everything from art history to cultural sociology to geography, as well as museum studies of course.
What are your plans for your fellowship?
One of the best things about the fellowship is that I have time to dedicate to a new research project. It’s called ‘Geographies of Art: The Spatial Politics of Artistic Practice’ and it explores something that became clear during my PhD research: art isn’t either global or local – or somehow placeless. Instead, artists are making all kinds of complex decisions based on nuanced understandings and experiences that relate to place in varying ways– and I’m interested in that lived experience and its implications for practitioners. The key things for me at the moment are sorting out a schedule, finding opportunities to work with artists both in the UK and internationally, and writing! I’d really like to write a book…
We’ve love to hear what you’ve been up to over summer. What exhibitions have you seen that have sparked your interest?
Oh no, that’s such a difficult question! Helen McCrorie’s The Clock in Commune as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival is one of the best things I’ve ever seen, I finally got to the new Tate Modern and the Louise Bourgeois Artist Rooms exhibition there, and Jennifer West’s Flashlight Filmstrip Projections at Tramway (which is in the dark – visitors are given a torch) was a new one for me, but it was great to see people getting so involved in the materiality of the work. I’ve also been to a lot of really good (and free) events and film screenings at the CCA in Glasgow as part of their series looking at art and society, but the highlight is going to have to be the Hermitage in St Petersburg – I’ve wanted to see the golden peacock for such a long time!
Have you had a busy year with conferences? What’s been your personal highlight?
I went to two really great conferences recently. The first, Networks in a Global World, brought together qualitative and quantitative researchers interested in network analysis, and it had a specific set of panels that looked at networks in relation to art – so a perfect opportunity for me to find out about ongoing work around the world! There was also a fantastic keynote from Ronald Breiger, and I completely changed my mind about the value and application of quantitative data. We need more quantitative researchers in the social sciences! The second was at Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh, and was called Cultural Production: Diversity, Equality and Exclusion. There is a real urgency to this work and it can make for depressing reading at times, so it was great to meet so many people committed to change.
What books would we find on your desk at the moment?
My desk is covered with books at the moment (see picture) as I’m running a module later in the year that looks as art curation, and there are so many books to sort through to see if they might be good for the reading list! And then there are the books for my own research, and two new publications about artist-run initiatives… But these are all in my ‘to do’ pile (the ones I’ve read are either on the shelves or back in the library) so I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about them – yet!
As a teacher, what aspects do you most enjoy?
I tend to teach on the MA courses offered by MCH and a lot of our students are already in work or have extensive experience. We also attract students from all over the world, so when you are involved in a lecture or seminar where everyone starts sharing their expertise, that’s a fantastic feeling. I’m also really lucky in that I work on the exhibition module, where our students design and install a public exhibition. It can be quite an emotional process – there are so many decisions and practicalities to consider – but watching the work go up and everything come together is always so exciting. But I think my absolute favourite aspect is hearing what happens next. Our students have gone on to do some really amazing things, and that’s what it is all about in the end!
Thank you Emma.
More information on Emma Coffield’s current research can be found on her staff profile. Emma also co-convenes the Cultural Significance of Place group with Prof. Chris Whitehead and tweets @EmmaCoffield.
Special 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:
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).
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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to receiving your contribution!
Nuala Morse, Bethany Rex and Sarah Richardson