Thursday, 16 May 2013

Grad Prog talks (22/5): the Market Street Mincer / Sex and the Shameless City

Location: Room 2.20, MediaCityUK (Salford Uni building)

Internal Speaker: Professor Ben Light (3.3.55pm)

Appropriation, Participation and the Creation of Celebrity: Introducing Internet-Mediated Urban Eccentrics

This work, undertaken in conduction with Helen Keegan (University of Salford) concerns the potential, and processes of, the internet-mediated construction and communication of urban eccentrics; ‘local characters’ who have traditionally been known to unconnected groups within a geographic locale. Our work suggests that the internet has the potential to connect these groups and generate notoriety for urban eccentrics, transcending time and space. Despite literatures around online fandom (Baym 2002) and micro-celebrity (Senft, 2008) it appears that the relationships between digital media and urban eccentrics have received very little academic attention. Our research is based on a discourse analysis of the Facebook fan page associated with a particular urban eccentric and other artifacts connected with them and shared throughout the Internet. Drawing upon Monaco’s (1978) concept of the Quasar, a category of celebrity, we undertake a reading of an urban eccentric: the Market Street Mincer (MSM) someone known for walking around Market Street in Manchester, UK during 2001-2003. Monaco defines the Quasar by their unwillingness to ‘be’ a celebrity, that fact they have little control over their status and that our interest is due to what we believe they are. In our case, the MSM operates as an enigma, no-one knows for certain why he does what he does and the extent to which he is willing to become a celebrity and under what terms. For example, several Facebook posts state that he walked to be spotted by a scout for a modelling agency. If that is the case, the attention he has received is something very different from that which he set out to gain. Thus, we need to think about the concept of the Quasar, and their abilities to influence their identities in the light of user generated content.

Guest Speaker: Beth Johnson (Keele University) (4-4.55pm)

Shameless: Situating Sex Beyond the City

This paper explores how the unashamed representations of the sexual desires of four female characters in Shameless (Channel 4, 2004 - present), namely Monica Gallagher (Annabelle Apsion), Fiona Gallagher (Anne-Marie Duff), Shelia Jackson (Maggie O'Neil) and Karen Jackson (Rebecca Atkinson), are connected to and cartographized through the fringe spaces of the Chatsworth estate. Contemplating the ways in which the UK series moves away from high-end US visions of slick surfaces, spaces and bodies, found, for example, in series such as Sex and the City (HBO, 1998-2004), the paper analyses the social positions, dominant sexual desires and complex narrative functions of these women, arguing that in the series, female desire is unashamedly repositioned at the centre rather than at the peripheries of the narrative.

Dr. Beth Johnson is a lecturer in Television and Film Studies at Keele University, UK. She is the author of various extant publications in journals such as Angelaki and The Journal of Cultural Research and her recent book chapters include ‘Realism, Real Sex and the Experimental Film: Mediating New Erotics in Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye’ in Realism and the Audiovisual Media (Palgrave Press:  2009, 135-151), and ‘Sex, Psychoanalysis and Sublimation in Dexter’ in Investigating Dexter: Cutting Edge Television (I.B.Tauris: 2010, 78-95). Beth’s forthcoming publications include a monograph on British television auteur ‘Paul Abbott’ for The Television Series (Manchester University Press, forthcoming, 2013) and a co-authored book entitled Exploring the Carnographic: Sex, Violence and Extremism in Global Culture to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. Beth has recently co-edited a new collection entitled Television, Sex and Society: Analyzing Contemporary Representations (Continuum Press, August 2012).

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