Anita Biressi: Career selfies: calling cards of neoliberalism
Wednesday 10 January

In this paper I focus on a development of media culture which explicitly connects to a prevailing set of messages about the manufacture of the successful self—that is the production of the selfie as a personal project and especially in relation to the worlds of paid work, careers, entrepreneurship and economic security. As will be seen, work-related selfies are deployed across the social spectrum. Both working-class and middle-class subjects are invited to present their best selves via selfie culture. In the context of careers, selfies work to bind together our personal biographies and social media profiles in the pursuit of advancement and financial security. I argue that if worker subjects have become figured as the heroes of their own lives then self-portraiture is one important component of this self-fashioning. Selfies are indeed the personification of neoliberalism because neoliberalism is both a narrative and a regime which places the individual centre stage. Bearing this in mind, I make the case for developing a new category of social role model, one which is fitting and theoretically useful for the current moment, namely the idol of self(ie)-production. This idol is expected to be self-made in the realm of work but also self-made in the media sphere and the two collide in selfie culture.

Anita Biressi is Professor of Media and Society at the University of Roehampton. Her publications include Reality Television (2005), The Tabloid Culture Reader (2008) and Class and Contemporary British Culture (2013). Her research interests include the popular articulation of neoliberalism, representations of social class and the relationship between the media sphere and social self. Anita’s latest work is a feminist project exploring news, gender and the governing of women’s voices in the public sphere.


Andy Miah: Sport 2.0
Thursday 11 January

This presentation critically examines the changing dynamics of the sports media world, examining trends from amateur to professional, live to remote, and broadcast to social media transformations. It further discusses how virtual reality and augmented reality are changing the conditions of sports media culture and how this creates an alternative theatre of performance, much more closely aligned with other creative industries than ever before. Furthermore, it utilizes the sport context to discuss innovation culture in future media technology, where such examples as artificial intelligence, wearables, and ingestibles, are becoming new, disruptive artefacts within our media culture.

Professor Andy Miah, PhD (@andymiah), is Chair in Science Communication & Future Media and leads the #SciComm Space at the University of Salford. He is also a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, USA and an Advisory Board Member for the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, and Executive Committee member of the British Interactive Group (BIG). Professor Miah’s research discusses the intersections of art, ethics, technology and culture and he has published broadly in areas of emerging technologies, particularly related to human enhancement. He has published over 150 academic articles in refereed journals and books, along with writing op eds for magazines and newspapers, such as the Washington Post and the Independent. He has also given over 300 major conference presentations over the last decade at which he is often invited to speak about philosophical and ethical issues concerning technology in society. Professor Miah regularly interviews for a range of major media companies, which have included BBC’s Newsnight and Start the Week with Andrew Marr, ABC’s’ The 7:30 Review and CBC’s The Hour. He is author of 9 books and, in 2017, he published the long-awaited book Sport 2.0 with The MIT Press, the first book to approach the growing mixed-reality future of sports, considering how digital technology is changing the athlete, spectator, and officials experience of sport.


David Gauntlett: Creativity and agency, and the purposes of media studies  – click to watch on YouTube
Friday 12 January

David Gauntlett will offer a personal perspective on the ways in which media and communications studies has and hasn’t changed over the past 20 years, and the ways in which creativity and agency have moved in and out, and then in and out, of popularity. Media and communications is, at some level, 100 per cent about the fruits of human creativity, and yet a focus on creativity can appear to make some media studies academics bitter and resentful. Perhaps this is because a notion of ‘pure’ creativity represents a teasing spectre from a utopia that cannot be reached – which is understandably upsetting. And yet creativity is all around us, and is thriving online. The idea of a creative life is typically very close to our students’ hearts. The cynicism and economic exploitation at the heart of most major online platforms is deeper and more damaging that some of us had anticipated, but does not actually remove the fact of the great opportunities for creative exchange and networks which the internet has enabled. If we need to find new ways to use technologies to truly unlock creativity for all, then we still need more creativity, not less. Therefore Gauntlett will consider some timeless truths about creativity, link these to today’s media and communications technologies, and identify some platforms that might give us hope.

Before January 2018, David Gauntlett was Professor and Director of Research at Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster, UK. From 2018 he is Professor of Creative Innovation and Leadership at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. He is the author of several books, including Creative Explorations (2007), Making is Connecting (2011, second edition 2018), and Making Media Studies (2015). He has worked with a number of the world’s leading creative organisations, including the BBC, the British Library, and Tate. For 12 years he has worked with LEGO and the LEGO Foundation on innovation in creativity, play and learning.