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Interrogating the Popular

Our research engages in various meta-critical analyses of diverse constructions of the popular, while also re-examining the social stratifications among various forms of culture—elite, middlebrow, popular, and media-based. Hence our research investigates forms as diverse as street theatre, festivals and pageants, the performance of community gardens, as well as dance in schools, projection mapping, urban art and spy thrillers and famous spy cases as performances within mass culture.

Milija Gluhovic has been part of an AHRC network developing research into the Eurovision Song Contest that has culminated in the co-edited volume Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest (2013).

Jim Davis is working on popular entertainment and visual culture in the nineteenth century including popular Victorian stage adaptations of Dickens and nineteenth-century comic performance.

James Harding has produced pioneering work on the blurring of art and life in the historical and contemporary Avant-Garde.

Nadine Holdsworth is currently working on a project looking at amateur theatre in the navy, within the AHRC-funded ‘Amateur Dramatics: Crafting Communities in Time and Space’ project. Much of this research raises interesting issues about contemporary spectatorship and what may or may not constitute a/the public. It is wide-ranging and asks important questions about:

  • The traditional divisions between elite and popular culture
  • The denigration of mass culture
  • The complex ideological function of culture
  • Audiences and efficacy
  • National imaginings and cultural practices, in addition to transnational formations and the politics of the popular