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Dr Sara De Benedictis Dr Sara De Benedictis
Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Communications
Sara joined Brunel in May 2017. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Communications in the Department of Social and Political Sciences. Sara’s research explores the cultural politics of gender, class, reproduction and activism. She has published on topics like televisual birth, ‘period poverty’, ‘poverty porn’ or #MeToo, and has contributed to public and political debates on such topics. Sara is currently researching ‘period poverty’, reproductive politics and feminist activism. Sara teaches various modules in Media and Communications and Sociology at Brunel. She has taught on media studies, cultural studies and sociology courses at various universities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, such as City University London, King’s College London and the London School of Economics. Before entering academia, Sara worked for charities in the women’s sector. I teach on a variety of modules: L4 Key Ideas in Media L6 Gender, Sexuality and Feminism L6 Dissertation Supervisor
Professor Meredith Jones Professor Meredith Jones
Professor / Director of Research Institute - (ICS)
Professor Jones is Director of the pan-university Institute for Communities and Society. Meredith is a transdisciplinary scholar who works at the intersections of feminist theories of the body with media, gender, and cultural studies. She is particularly interested in popular culture, visuality, and embodiment, and has published widely in these areas. Her latest edited volume, Performing the Penis: Phalluses in 21st Century Cultures (with Evelyn Callahan) comprehensively introduces the emerging discipline of Penis Studies. She is currently working on a monograph about vulvas and on a yearbook about genital transformations in media and culture. Beautyscapes: Mapping Cosmetic Surgery Tourism (written with Ruth Holliday and David Bell) won the 2020 Foundation for Sociology of Health and Illness Prize. This book is based on extensive fieldwork carried out in Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Tunisia, Spain, and Czech Republic. It also comprises digital research into cosmetic surgery websites and cosmetic surgery communities on social media. Skintight: An Anatomy of Cosmetic Surgery, Meredith's first monograph, is a widely-cited foundational text in studies of makeover culture, cosmetic surgery and feminist theories of the body. Her other books include a major collection of feminist writing about cosmetic surgery that she co-edited with philosopher Cressida Heyes, Cosmetic Surgery: A Feminist Primer. She often speaks publicly about social media, popular culture and feminism, and is an expert on the socio-cultural aspects of the Kardashians. She hosted a scholarly Kimposium! in 2015 and Kimposium! The Sequel was held in September 2021. Meredith is active in the creative industries and founded the Trunk series of books with artist and designer Suzanne Boccalatte, which includes curated collections of artworks and essays about Hair and Blood. Currently she is collaborating with Taylor & Francis Group to deliver a series of projects around new and innovative modes of publishing. The goal is to develop more digitally relevant, flexible, inclusive and faster ways of publishing for academics as well as community, industry, and NGO groups. Qualifications PhD in Cultural Studies, University of Western Sydney, 2006 BA Hons. in Women's Studies, 1st Class, University of Sydney, 1998 Meredith's work is in the broad fields of Feminist Theory, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Cultural Sociology. She has researched and written about cosmetic surgery and other body modifications for more than two decades. Her book Skintight: An Anatomy of Cosmetic Surgery is a key text in feminist thinking about makeover culture, bodies, and media. In Sun, Sea, Sand and Silicone, an international ESRC funded research project that explored the phenomenon of Cosmetic Surgery Tourism, Meredith and a team of academics from Australia and the UK followed people from the UK, Australia and China who went to Thailand, Malaysia, Tunisia and South Korea seeking cosmetic surgery. The book based on this project, Beautyscapes: Mapping Cosmetic Surgery Tourism, won the 2020 Foundation for Sociology of Health and Illness Prize. Meredith is the editor of the Routledge series Gender, Bodies and Transformation. She welcomes proposals for the series.
Dr Sharon Lockyer Dr Sharon Lockyer
Reader - Sociology & Communications
Sharon Lockyer is a Reader in Sociology and Communications with an international research track-record in mediated culture, critical comedy studies, and mixed-methods research. She is founding director of the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR) - the first, and only, international and interdisciplinary research centre devoted to the academic study of comedy. Sharon has worked on externally funded projects involving multiple stakeholders and is skilled in leading public engagement and impact activities involving diverse audiences, which utilise her extensive academic, industry, and public contacts. She has researched and taught at other institutions including Loughborough University and De Montfort University, and has been a Visiting Professor at Dunarea de Jos University of Galati. Before becoming an academic Sharon worked in the cultural industries. Sharon’s research interests fall within the broad areas of mediated culture, critical comedy studies and media controversies. She has written extensively on the ethics and aesthetics of live and mediated comedy in relation to class, gender and disability. She is particularly interested in instances of popular humour and comedy that excite social tension and moral controversy. Her co-edited book (with Professor Michael Pickering) Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humour and journal article in Sociology Compass (with Michael Pickering) are key texts in critical comedy studies. She is also interested in methodological issues and debates in humour and comedy studies. Undergraduate Programmes Communication and Media Studies BSc Sociology BSc Sociology (Media) BSc Module convenor Comedy, the Media and Society (Level 6) Module contributor Key Ideas in Media (Level 4) Sociology and Communications Dissertations (Level 6) Work Placements (Levels 4 and 5) Postgraduate Programmes Media and Communications MSc Module convenor Issues and Controversies in Media and Communications (Level 7) Module contributor Media and Communications Dissertation (Level 7)
Professor Sarita Malik Professor Sarita Malik
Professor - Media, Culture and Communications
Dr Sarita Malik has been Professor of Media and Culture in the Division of Sociology and Communications since 2016. Her research examines issues of inequality and culture (representation, production and participation) in shifting sociopolitical, cultural and technological contexts. Sarita's work has made a major contribution to how 'diversity', social justice and the role of arts and culture are understood through policy and practice. Publications have spanned topics including 'race', representation and diversity in film, public service broadcasting and the cultural industries, and she has produced a range of writings on culture and inequality more widely. Sarita is a Member of the AHRC Peer Review College, a Member of Sub-Panel 34 (Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management) for the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) exercise and, in 2022, was appointed to The Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) College of Experts. As a former curator and public arts programmer, broadcast journalist and research bid writer, Sarita's research is built on knowledge exchange with a variety of stakeholder groups, community, professional and public, often drawing on collaborative, interdiscipinary and participative research methodologies. Since 2011, Sarita has been the Principal Investigator on four Connected Communities UKRI/Arts and Humanities Research Council projects, including a multi-stakeholder study of community filmmaking and cultural diversity and a collaborative project with the British Film Institute exploring diasporic cinema. Between 2014 and 2020, Sarita generated and led a major AHRC-funded international consortia project about the relationship between culture, creativity and resistance in mainland UK, Palestine, Northern Ireland and India . Her latest AHRC project (2021-24) is a collaboration with the Guardian and British Film Institute, and is a longitudinal study of the screen sector where racial inequality remains a policy challenge. Sarita's research has been disseminated widely in a range of outlets including the Guardian, The Conversation, Arts Professional, Sight and Sound, Channel 4, the BBC and Sky Television. Example project: Principal Investigator on a large, international consortia project funded by the UK government’s Arts and Humanities Research Council examining how disenfranchised communities use the arts, media and creativity to challenge marginalisation in mainland UK, Northern Ireland, Palestine and India. Motivated by a concern to listen to largely unheard stories, this co-created project engages with past and emergent grassrooots art work that has responded to forms of social exclusion. Creative Interruptions brings together diverse practitioners, artists, activists, academics and non-University based collaborators to build a space where creative practices as well as theoretical, cultural and policy perspectives converge. Art is used as a forum to exchange knowledge about these experiences and research across divides. Sarita's convenes and teaches across a range of UG and PG modules in Sociology and Media and Communication Studies. Her teaching specialism spans cultural theory, media studies, sociology and screen studies.
Mr Cavyn Mitchell Mr Cavyn Mitchell
PhD Student
I am a PhD student in the sociology department within CBASS. My research focuses on transgender identity, disability and the intersecting themes of stigma and power.
Dr Hauke Riesch Dr Hauke Riesch
Deputy Head of Department / Divisional Lead / Senior Lecturer in Sociology
I am a sociologist of science with a particular interest in science communication, risk and environmental science and interdisciplinary relations between sociology and philosophy of science. After completing a PhD on scientists' views on philosophy of science at University College London, I worked as a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge on the public understanding of risk and energy policy, and more recently at Imperial College London on public understanding of environmental change. I have been working at Brunel since 2012. Qualifications: BSc Physics & Philosophy (King's College London) MSc Philosophy & History of Science (King's College London) PhD Science & Technology Studies (University College London) My research interests centre around the sociology of science, in particular science communication, risk and the environment, popular science writing and occasionally, philosophy of science. Undergraduate Programmes Module convenor SO1701: Researching Culture and Society (Methods I) SO1704: Exploring Identity and Power (Methods II) CO2028: Research in Practice SO2605: Apocalypse! Crisis and Society
Dr John Roberts Dr John Roberts
Professor - Sociology and Communications
I completed my PhD at Cardiff University in 2000 on urban space and free speech. I’ve studied and taught at various universities including Essex, Lancaster, Leeds, and Manchester universities. I joined Brunel in 2004. Qualifications: PhD Sociology (Cardiff) MA Sociology (Essex) BA Sociology (Lancaster) PG Cert Research (Cardiff) PG Cert Teaching and Learning (Brunel) My research interests can be divided into the following areas: the relationship between the public parks, urban space, and free speech; critical social theory along with its application to empirical research; everyday experiences of social and political activism; the relationship between digital technology and labour and work. I am currently involved in various projects: Digital Labour I have an ongoing research interest in how technology is changing the world of labour and work. For example, I have just completed a new monograph on social class and digital before and during the pandemic. Free Speech Struggles at Hyde Park from 1945 up until 2017 Through primary historical data, this project explores the relationship and struggles in and around free speech between the state, political and social activists, and regulars and audience members at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park in London, 1945 to 2017. Among the the issues explored will be the sociology of free speech, the changing spatial governance of public space, Hyde Park and free speech from Keynesian welfare regulation to neoliberal regulation, socio-legal discourse on free speech at Hyde Park, policing free speech during this period, the performance of free speech, and the architectural and spatial design of Speakers' Corner. This project is funded by a Leverhulme Fellowship. Everyday Experiences of Political and Social Activism Another interest of mine concerns the changing nature of social and political activism. For example, with a colleague, Dr Joseph Ibrahim, I will be carrying out a qualitative study on people's everyday experiences of being active in the 'movement party', Momentum. I am currently also co-convenor of the Political Studies Association specialist group/research network on social and political movements. Suburban Parks, Heritage, and Voluntary Activity This project explores the management of and voluntary activity around heritage projects in suburban public parks. By comparing and contrasting a large and well-resourced suburban park with two smaller suburban parks, the project examines how recent and public concerns about cuts to park budgets have affected these respective suburban parks especially in terms of their volunteering strategies on heritage projects. The project will aim to see whether suburban parks face distinctive challenges in these areas which are different to urban parks, and will do so by interviewing and observing both managers of these parks and organised suburban park volunteers. Undergraduate Programmes Module convenor Key Ideas in Sociology (Yr 1) Digital Cultures (Yr 3) Postgraduate Programmes Module convenor Creative Industries Module contributor Dissertation Research in Practice Undergraduate Teaching Module convenor Key Ideas in Sociology (Yr 1) Digital Cultures (Yr 3) Postgraduate Teaching Module convenor Creative Industries Module contributor Dissertation Research in Practice Administration Admissions
Dr Simon Weaver Dr Simon Weaver
Senior Lecturer
Simon is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at Brunel University London. He started at Brunel as a Lecturer in Media and Communications in April 2012 and became a Senior Lecturer in October 2017. Simon completed his PhD in the Department of Sociology, University of Bristol, with a thesis entitled Humour, Rhetoric and Racism: A Sociological Critique of Racist Humour. That thesis formed the basis of his first book, The Rhetoric of Racist Humour: US, UK and Global Race Joking, which was published by Ashgate in September 2011. His first journal article (The ‘Other’ Laughs Back: Humour and Resistance in Anti-Racist Comedy, Sociology 2010 44.1: 31-48), won the British Sociological Association’s ‘Sage Prize for Innovation and/or Excellence 2011’. Between his PhD and arriving at Brunel, Simon worked as a Research Associate in Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester and held an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Communications and Media Studies, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University. Qualifications: PhD Sociology (Bristol) MSc Sociology (Bristol) BA History and Sociology (UWE) Simon’s research interests focus on a number of overlapping areas in sociology, communications and media studies. These are social and cultural theory, the work of Zygmunt Bauman, semiotics, representations of disability and ‘deformity’ in media, racist and offensive humour, humour and rhetoric, and the sociology of race, ethnicity and racism. Most recently, Simon has been researching comedy about Brexit, the relationship between comedy and populism, and the ironies and ambiguities of Brexit discourse. Undergraduate Teaching Module convenor Me, You or Us? Analysing Identity and Power (Yr 1) Bodies and Society (Yr 2) Module contributor Comedy, the Media and Society (Yr 3) Postgraduate Teaching Module convenor Body, Media and Society Dissertation in Media and Communications Principles of Media Research
Dr Peter Wilkin Dr Peter Wilkin
Reader - Comms, Media & Cultural Studies
I studied at Southampton University (1987-2004) before taking up my first post at Lancaster University in the Department of Politics and International Relations. I moved to Brunel in August 2005. Qualifications: Phd Politics and IR (Southampton) I am currently working on a number of articles for peer reviewed academic journals. These focus upon the following subjects: Julian Assange and Charlie Hebdo Voluntary activity and leisure pursuits Brexit Geoculture Farewell to postmodernism Module Convenor SO1602 Contemporary Society and Media CO2030 Global Communication: The Digital Revolution SO3613 Lawyers, Guns and Money: Building the Modern World-System
Dr Leon Hunt Dr Leon Hunt
Senior Lecturer - Arts and Humanities
Leon is a Senior Lecturer in Film and TV Studies. His teaching and research interests include Hong Kong cinema, popular East Asian cinema, Cult Film and TV, Horror, TV Comedy and British Film and Television. He has published widely in these areas. British Low Culture: From Safari Suits to Sexploitation (Routledge 1998) explores some of the ‘forgotten’ areas of British popular culture (sexploitation films, youth cult novels, ‘low’ comedy), offers an alternative cultural history of the 1970s and engages with issues of taste and popularity. Kung Fu Cult Masters: From Bruce Lee to Crouching Tiger (Wallflower Press 2003) was the first English-language book-length academic study of Chinese martial arts cinema and its impact on global media, including the transnational stardom of Bruce Lee and Jet Li, the migration of Hong Kong film-making talent and aesthetics to Hollywood and the remediation of martial arts cinema through videogames and modern special effects technologies. The book was translated into Chinese and reprinted by Peking University Press in 2011. East Asian Cinemas: Exploring Transnational Connections on Film (co-edited with Leung Wing Fai, I.B. Tauris 2008) looks at the global impact of popular East Asian cinemas, and my own essay in the collection examines the way western filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Luc Besson have absorbed influences from Asian action genres. The League of Gentlemen (BFI/Palgrave 2008) is a monograph in the BFI’s ‘TV Classics’ series. My current book Cult British TV Comedy (Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2013) expands my research into the cult/post-alternative TV comedy of the last twenty years and includes case studies of Vic Reeves and sitcom writer Graham Linehan as well as exploring ‘dark’ and ‘cringe’ comedy and looking at issues of taste and offence. Leon is also currently co-editing (with Sharon Lockyer and Milly Williamson) Screening the Undead: Vampires and Zombies in Film and Television (I.B. Tauris forthcoming 2013.) Leon Hunt is a Senior Lecturer in Film and TV Studies. Modules taught include British Film and Television, Hong Kong Cinema and The Horror Film. Research interests include Hong Kong Cinema, Martial Arts Films, Horror, British Cinema, and Cult TV.
Professor Geoff King Professor Geoff King
Professor - Film Studies
Geoff King has published numerous books, particularly focused on American independent, art and Hollywood cinema. He is a major authority on the American indie sector, with books including American Independent Cinema (2005), a pioneering work in the study of independent film, and Indiewood, USA (2009), the first academic analysis of the ‘Indiewood’ zone in which Hollywood and the independent sector overlap. He has also written books on the indie features Donnie Darko (2007) and Lost in Translation (2010) and a study of contemporary lower-budget indie cinema, Indie 2.0: Change and Continuity in American Indie Film (2014), including analysis of the role of the internet as a new channel of distribution. His more recent work focuses on the way particular forms of cultural value are attributed to different kinds of film, a theme of Quality Hollywood: Markers of Distinction in Contemporary Studio Film (2016) and Postitioning Art Cinema: Film Cultural Value (2019). The latter offers a ground-breaking approach to the study of the manner in which international art cinema is characteristically positioned and accorded certain kinds of value. He latest book is is The Cinema of Discomfort: Disquieting, Awkard and Uncomfortable Experienes in Contemporary Art and Indie Film (2022). Prof. King’s earlier work focused more closely on Hollywood, both generally and particularly in relation to the contemporary blockbuster format, and film comedy. His book Spectacular Narratives: Hollywood in the Age of the Blockbuster (2000) remains a key intervention in debates about the relationship between narrative and spectacle in the contemporary blockbuster format. He has also published collaborative books with Tanya Krzywinska on science fiction cinema and videogames (for details of these and other publications, see publications list). In another life, he worked as a journalist, combining this part-time with undergraduate and postgraduate study before becoming a lecturer at Brunel in 1998. I teach on a number of modules across the film programmes. The module closest to my research interests is FM3015: American Independent Cinema, which I lead and teach entirely. This is focused around a close examination of the industrial, formal and socio-cultural dimensions of American indie film, a topic on which I have published several books. I lead the level 1 module FM1619: Technology, Industry and Form, teaching weeks on early cinema, the movement towards the classical style, the coming of sound and Hollywood from the classial system to the corporate era today. Also weeks on spectacle and narrative in Hollywood blockbusters, widescreen and 3D technologies, home and mobile film viewing, low-budget digital production and Nollywood. At level 2, I lead FM2625: World Cinemas and the shorter version, FM2621: Introduction to World Cinemas. On the modules I teach sessions introducing dimensions and definitions of world cinema; global Hollywood art cinema; meaning-making in Hollywood cinema including issues of cultural imperialism/cultural exchange; the Hollywood Renaissance; Chinese independent cinema; the Greek 'weird' wave and cinema of discomfort; and crime films from Argentina. I also lead the level 2 FM2623: Film and TV Genres, teaching sessions on genre theory, science fiction, crime and comedian comedy. On the level 2 module FM2606: Understanding the Film and TV Industries, I teach sessions including one on marketing and distribution in Hollywood and in the art/indie film sectors. Activities: Books The Cinema of Discomfort: Disconcerting, Awkward and Uncomfortable Experiences in Contemporary Art and Indie Film, New York: Bloomsbury, 2022 Positioning Art Cinema: Film and Cultural Value, I.B. Tauris, 2019 Quality Hollywood: Markers of Distinction in Contemporary Studio Film, I.B. Tauris, 2016 Indie 2.0: Continuity and Change in Contemporary American Indie Film, I.B.Tauris & Co, 2014 Lost in Translation, American Indies series, Edinburgh University Press, 2010 Indiewood, USA: Where Hollywood Meets Independent Cinema, London: I.B. Tauris, 2009 Donnie Darko, ‘Cultographies’ series, London: Wallflower Press, 2007 American Independent Cinema, London: I.B. Tauris & Co/Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005, pp 294. Also translated into Italian, Einaudi, 2006. New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction, London: I.B. Tauris & Co./New York: Columbia University Press, 2002, pp 296, reprinted 2005. Also translated into Italian, Einaudi, 2004. Film Comedy, London: Wallflower Press, 2002 Spectacular Narratives: Hollywood in the Age of the Blockbuster, London: I.B. Tauris & Co./New York: St Martin’s Press, 2000 Mapping Reality: An Exploration of Cultural Cartographies, Basingstoke: Macmillan Press/New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996 Co-authored: Tomb Raiders and Space Invaders: Videogame Forms and Contexts, co-authored with Tanya Krzywinska, London: I.B. Tauris, 2005 Science Fiction Cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace, co-authored with Tanya Krzywinska, London: Wallflower Press, 2000 Editor of collection: The Spectacle of the Real: From Hollywood to Reality TV and Beyond, editor, contributor of introduction and chapter, Bristol: Intellect Press, 2005 ScreenPlay: Cinema/Videogames/Interfaces, co-editor with Tanya Krzywinska, co-author of introduction, author of chapter, London: Wallflower Press, 2002
Dr Max Kinnings Dr Max Kinnings
Reader in Creative Writing
Max is the author of four novels, HITMAN (2000), THE FIXER (2001), both published by Hodder & Stoughton, and BAPTISM (2012) and SACRIFICE (2013) both published by Quercus Books and in translation with publishers overseas. He was the ghost writer of actor/comedian Rik Mayall’s spoof autobiography, BIGGER THAN HITLER – BETTER THAN CHRIST (Harper Collins 2005). His screenwriting work includes the feature films, ACT OF GRACE (Embrace Productions 2012); ALLEYCATS (Elephant Gun Films / Universal Pictures 2016); and THE PAGAN KING (Platforma Film 2018) as well as commissions from a number of film and television producers. Max was part of the writing team for Sony Computer Entertainment’s Little Big Planet 3 (2015). He completed his PhD in Creative Writing at Brunel University in 2017. Max’s research is almost entirely practice-based, writing novels for publication and screenplays for production by film, TV and web-based producers. He is particularly interested in the writing, production and distribution of work utilising digital technology. But whatever the medium, it is the creation of stories that resonate with readers and audiences that is his primary focus.
Miss Jaice Sara Titus Miss Jaice Sara Titus
PhD Student
Jaice is a second year PhD student at Brunel University, London, researching improvisation in comedy and its relation to Lacanian psychoanalysis. Her interest in humour developed in 2012 while studying for her Masters in Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Society, also at Brunel, which culminated in her completing a dissertation on self-deprecating humour and Lacanian psychoanalysis. She further developed her understanding of the writings of Jacques Lacan while attending the Psychoanalytic Studies programme at the Centre For Freudian Analysis and Research. Jaice was the first PhD student affiliated to Brunel’s Centre for Comedy Studies Research, and her aim is to continue to cultivate a discourse between the two disciplines of psychoanalysis and comedy studies. Psychoanalysis Jacques Lacan Improvisation Live Performance Comedy Critical Theory