Media Now: Emotion, Affect and Mythologies

mch-final-poster_march15th_highres-page-001We are delighted to welcome:

Prof Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University)

Dr Darren Kelsey (Media, Culture and Heritage, Newcastle University)

Chair: Dr Florian Zollmann (Newcastle University)

Prof Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University) – ‘Anger as a Political Emotion in Media Discourses: Trump, Brexit and Beyond’

Wednesday, March 15, 3pm – 5pm in Armstrong Building 2.90

This presentation looks at the role of anger as a political emotion, in the context of recent political events. Anger has historically been viewed as a “dangerous” emotion in public life, associated with uncontrollable aggression and violence. Yet social movement scholars have discerned a mobilising potential in anger: Through sharing the experience of being angry about particular forms of injustice, citizens and activists are collectively empowered to take action.

The presentation explores how news media represent anger in a variety of different contexts, including routine protest coverage, the EU Referendum campaign, and the US Presidential election campaign of Donald Trump. The presentation suggests that anger is frequently constructed as an explanatory framework for understanding grievances, but also as a rhetorical and strategic tool for mobilising support amongst disenfranchised groups. Anger stems from collective and publicly articulated grievances, usually against larger injustices that no individual can address on their own. Ultimately, anger is always-already political, for better or worse.

Dr Darren Kelsey (Media, Culture and Heritage, Newcastle University) – ‘“You’re not laughing now, are you?” Farage, Brexit and the Hero’s Journey: a case study of affective mythology’

This paper is concerned with affective mythology and right wing populism in media coverage of Nigel Farage. It considers how archetypal traits of mythological Heroism appeared in the Mail Online through Farage’s image as a man of the people who distinguished himself from the political establishment. Through Campbell’s (1949) monomyth we see a distinct trait of this archetypal convention: The Hero’s Journey. Farage was constructed as a man on a mission, fighting against the odds, overcoming trials and tribulations to “take back control” from the EU. Hero mythology functioned to suppress ideological and historical complexities that contradicted Farage’s populist image. This analysis then extends to consider the affective-discursive loops operating through reader comments on the Mail Online website. This enables us to look more closely at responses to news stories and the contributions of readers that reflect the affective qualities of the monomyth. Through this attention to a powerful albeit familiar archetype, the ideological tensions of British national identity and EU politics are analysed in light of the referendum.


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

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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.
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In conversation with: Emma Coffield

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.ecoffieldqa

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.