We are very excited to announce that the keynote speaker for our Women and Comedy symposium at University of Salford on 19th October will be Dr Rosie White Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature, Theory and Popular Culture from Northumbria University.
Rosie’s published work includes material on Michèle Roberts’ fiction, on female action heroes and on the representation of women spies in popular fiction, film and television. Her current research examines women and comedy on British and American television, arguing that comedy has the potential to queer our understanding of gender as either masculine or feminine. She has written book chapters on the work of comedians Miranda Hart and Roseanne Barr as well as articles on character comedy performer Beryl Reid, and (a Mixed Bill favourite) Jessica Hynes and Julia Davis’ TV pilot Lizzie and Sarah.
Her keynote lecture will relate to her forthcoming book on Television Comedy and Femininity: Queering Gender (I.B. Tauris, forthcoming). And we CAN’T WAIT to hear it!
Smack the Pony: Queering Postfeminism in British Sketch Comedy
Dr Rosie White
Despite running for only three seven-episode series on Channel 4 (1999-2001) followed by two special one-off episodes in December 2002 and January 2003, the British sketch show Smack the Pony continues to generate discussion amongst fans and critics (Lewisohn 2003:705-6). Winning an International Emmy in 2000, Smack the Pony featured in the 2001and 2003 line-up for the fund-raising gala Comic Relief (BBC). It was screened as part of a British Film Institute season on ‘Trailblazers: Queens of Comedy’ in August 2012 during the festival which heralded the London Olympics. In this paper I examine Smack the Pony as a millennial comedy show which worked to queer heterofemininity at a moment when postfeminist discourses were establishing new gender ‘norms’. Popular fascination with artists such as The Spice Girls and shows such as Sex and The City (HBO, 1998-2004) reified a hegemonic femininity which was predominantly white, slim and heterosexual, with enormous resources to support a laborious regime of personal grooming. Rosalind Gill and Christina Scharff propose that ‘a postfeminist sensibility includes the notion that femininity is increasingly figured as a bodily property,’ for a body that is self-regulating, self-contained and sexualized primarily in terms of its capital within consumer culture (2011:4). In this paper I explore how comedy might challenge that postfeminist sensibility through the strategic deployment of grotesque and silly performances.
Watch this space – Registration details to join us on 19th October are coming soon.
Mixed Bill is a newly established comedy and gender research network currently made up of interdisciplinary researchers from Sheffield Hallam, Salford and Leeds Universities. The network exists to explore under-researched aspects of comedy and humour and the way this intersects with gender identities. Collective research interests include (but are not limited to) performance, cultural studies, contemporary feminisms, creative writing, celebrity studies, visual cultures, film, television, media and gender studies.
The core focus of the network is on raising public awareness of these areas through a series of events. These events will engage a variety of audiences including those working within the comedy industry, academics and the general public. Mixed Bill’s first event, a one-day symposium, will take place in October 2017 at the University of Salford and will explore the topic of women and comedy, an area which all three founding members are currently researching.
The programme will be released over the summer along with details of how to register for the event. So stay tuned.
Women and comedy symposium University of Salford
Thursday 19th October 2017
In 1985 the Guerilla Girls protested about the lack of women artists included in exhibitions at New York’s many internationally renowned museums. The argument underpinning their protest was that women are disproportionately represented as the object of art rather than as the artists themselves. This could be considered to be similar to the way the comedy industry in the UK has historically operated. Although women have always been involved in the creation of humour often their contribution has been overlooked, remained un-captured or simply written out of history.
Since the alternative comedy movement of the 1980s women have played a more active and high profile role as the generators of performed comedy, rather than operating solely as the subject for stereotypical punchlines. Put simply, ‘her indoors’ has become ‘her onstage’. This symposium event seeks to address the under-representation of women in critical considerations of comic performance and to provide an opportunity to explore the contributions made by those identifying as female to live and recorded comedy.
This symposium will be the first convened by Mixed Bill, a newly established interdisciplinary comedy and gender research network currently comprised of researchers from the Universities of Salford, Leeds and Sheffield Hallam. This inaugural event will be a vibrant mixture of academic papers, interventions, workshops and panel discussions and will coincide with the opening of the 2017 Women in Comedy Festival in central Manchester. As part of the symposium, attendees will be invited to the launch night festivities as a chance to socialise, network and encounter first-hand the evolving strategies that seek to challenge the inequalities on today’s live comedy circuit.
We welcome abstracts for 20 minute papers on comedy and female performance/representation which may include, but is not limited to, the following areas:
Comedy and politics
Intersectional issues and comedy
Comedy and contemporary feminisms
Comedy and female sexuality
The female body in comedy (self-objectification and ageing)
Comedy and women’s health and wellbeing
Comedy and female protest
We are particularly interested in papers and interventions that explore the work of UK based performers (either in the live arena or in recorded forms of comedy). This event is inclusive to all genders, however the focus of the papers will be on the work of those identifying as female.
Please submit abstracts by Monday 22nd May. Abstracts should be 250 words maximum in a Word document (not a PDF), with minimal formatting. Please also include (in the same document), and as independent of this word count: name; email and postal address; title and affiliation(s); recent publications / creative outputs; any further relevant biographical information. Decisions to be communicated by 9th June.
If you have any questions please get in contact with the symposiums organisers.
Ellie Tomsett (Sheffield Hallam University) Lisa Moore (University of Salford) and Kate Fox (University of Leeds) – firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on Twitter: @MixedBill