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.