Tom Daley is one of CelebYouth’s case study celebrities so we were very excited when he hit the news last week after uploading to YouTube the direct-to-camera video ‘Something I want to say’. In it, Tom tells us that despite ‘dating girls’ in the past, he’d not had a ‘serious relationship’ until last spring, when he met someone who makes him feel ‘so happy and so safe … well that someone [pause] is a guy’. We love this video. Heather in particular has crossed the boundary from researcher to fan as she’s studied Tom’s media representation including, reading an autobiography and biography, following the news coverage of him across six months and enduring every episode of TV-celebrity-diving-competition Splash! Her colleagues marked her growing interest by getting her a Tom Daley cake to celebrate her 43rd birthday (pictured). In this post she looks critically both at Tom’s ‘coming out’ video and at reactions to it, suggesting that the ‘something he wants to say’ constitutes a new kind of sexuality story and one to which we need to listen attentively.
This is the third of a trio of posts about the Slow University that started life as presentations in a seminar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Durham University. In it, guest blogger Ruth Mueller, explores how the compulsion for speed in academia plays out in the lives of postdocs.
This is the second of a trio of posts about the Slow University that started life as presentations in a seminar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Durham University. In it, Heather argues that some calls for slowing down scholarship mask a conservative politics.
The CelebYouth study is about the role of celebrity stories in structuring young people’s aspirations. Given the fantasy elements in these tales, perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when fairy tales and superheroes came up as our participants asked whether Cinderella, Beauty Belle and Batman were celebrities. In this guest blog post, Sir George Monoux College student, Mahreen Safdar, talks about the significance of fairy tales in her own life.
This is the first of a trio of posts about the Slow University that started life as presentations in a seminar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Durham University. In it, guest blogger Luke Martell, argues that we shouldn’t fetishise speed at the fast university. This distracts from what’s behind it. And we should ask whether slow is what the slow university’s really about.
In July, we submitted a proposal for a symposium at the 2014 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference. We know it’s big and corporate, so not exactly our ideal conference, but Laura went last year and enjoyed it so we thought we’d give it a go, plus we’d found some lovely colleagues to work with and secretly, wanted an excuse to visit Philadelphia. We’ve just been rejected. This is our first, but I’m sure not our last CelebYouth rejection. Rejections are a massive part of academic life. Yet we rarely talk about them. It’s as if they’re individual sources of shame to be hidden, rather than part of the collective practices through which we build our professional communities, things that need to be shared and debated in the open. In this post Heather reflects on our AERA rejection and what it says about educational research conferences.
The demand from our universities, our funders and our government that our research impact on society by changing policy and practice, has brought researchers into ever-greater contact with an increasing-variety of ‘non-academic users’. This raises tensions. In another post, Heather discussed how our research got lost in translation between us, as researchers, and a journalist. In this post, she looks at how we’ve found that we have a different conception of evidence than that which predominates among policymakers.
Last week Laura and Heather went to see performance artist Bryony Kimmings‘ latest show Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model (CLSRM), a collaboration with her amazing 9 year-old niece Taylor Houchen, in which she explores the growing tween industry and how ‘children are manipulated into becoming prematurely sexualised consumers’. We went with a few anxieties: we’d enjoyed talking with Bryony as our and her projects developed, including as part of a panel she organised on ‘The Age of Celebrity‘, but worried that our research had made us hypercritical of any and all representations of young people’s relationships to popular culture and celebrity. Our anxieties were misplaced, as Bryony’s found a way to capture the complexity of tweenage girlhood including showing how media savvy young people are and what adult desires are mixed up in our construction of children as innocent and in need of our protection. The show is moving, entertaining and thought-provoking and the best thing we can recommend is that you find a way to go and see it yourself. But in this post we’ll talk about a few of our impressions of the show (warning- including some spoilers).
Our universities are continually invoking us to do research that has ‘impact’. They’re thrilled when we get media coverage and, being honest, I also enjoy the aura of glamour that comes with media attention. So, we were pleased when we were contacted by the person in charge of media promotion for this year’s BERA Conference, saying that he was considering press releasing our paper. In this post, I reflect on this experience of talking through possible journalistic angles on our work and on why it all fell through.