Call for Papers

78-88: Prince, The First Decade: An Interdisciplinary Conference.

A two-day international conference hosted by
The School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, United Kingdom
and the Department of Recording Industry, Middle Tennessee State University, USA.

June 3 & 4, 2020,
The Robert E. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, University of Minnesota, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N., Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

Organising Committee:

Dr Mike Alleyne, Dept. of Recording Industry, College of Media & Entertainment, Middle Tennessee State University.

Dr Kirsty Fairclough, School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK.

Kristen Zschomler, Minneapolis-based historian and writer, Sound History, LLC.

Proposals are invited for a two-day international, interdisciplinary conference on Prince during the first decade of his career. The conference aims to provide fresh perspectives on the creative and commercial emergence of Prince as an artist during the period 1978-1988 and seeks to address Prince’s significant influence on popular culture during this time.

The first decade laid the foundation of his creatively fruitful career and established Prince as both a musical and cinematic artist, as well as a complete entertainer. The conference invites explorations of elements that established the cornerstones of Prince’s identities and offers opportunities for interconnecting stylistic components of the albums through which he asserted his creative authority.

We welcome proposals from scholars in the fields of popular music studies, sound studies, gender studies, cultural studies, television studies, celebrity studies, film studies, visual arts, performance studies, digital and social media and related disciplines.

Proposals for are invited for 20-minute papers and panels.
Single and panel proposals are invited on, but are not limited to, the following which must focus on the period 1978-1988:

• Prince and Minneapolis, including the Northside.
• Prince as musician.
• Prince as songwriter.
• Prince as producer.
• Prince as auteur.
• Prince and fandom.
• Prince and racial representations.
• Prince, feminism and gender relations.
• Prince and performance style.
• Prince’s music videos.
• Prince and fashion.
• Prince as star/celebrity.
• Prince and media representations.
• Prince as enigma.
• Prince and films, including writing, acting, directing, and soundtracks.
• Prince as mentor.

Submission guidelines:

Please send: (1) a 250-word abstract, (2) a proposed title, (3) a clear indication of presentation format (4) institutional affiliation (if any), by Monday, September 30th, 2019 to:


The Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson is not affiliated, associated, or connected with the 78-88: Prince, The First Decade Conference, nor has it in endorsed or sponsored the 78-88: Prince, The First Decade Conference. Further, the Estate of Prince Rogers Nelson has not licensed any of its intellectual property to the 78-88: Prince, The First Decade Conference.



Fans of R&B superstar Frank Ocean have been whipped into a frenzy. The release of Boys Don’t Cry, the follow-up album to 2012’s critically acclaimed Channel Orange, has been a long time coming. And after a series of cryptic clues hinted that the album was to be released on Friday August 5 turned out to be baseless and no verified release date announced, frustration is high. But Ocean’s methods demonstrate just how far the use of mystery goes in today’s cluttered music market.

Last summer, Ocean promised the new album would be released in 2016. But no hint of a date appeared. On July 2 he posted an image of a punch card littered with missed deadlines for Boys Don’t Cry. The singer songwriter has gently toyed with his fan base since the new album was initially expected to be released in 2015, but its delay has contributed to mass frustration among his fans.
The public commentary by those in the know has exacerbated this frustration. In March 2016, Ocean’s producer Malay said that the album was “maybe a month away”. Artist James Blake worked on the album and has called it “better” than Channel Orange. In February this year new Ocean music was leaked online, supposedly after a secret listening party. The untitled snippets were later removed due to copyright issues.

Given this context, fans and the wider media alike were fixated on Ocean’s website when it began streaming mysterious footage early on August 1. It appeared that all was due to be revealed, the album finally released. But frustration quickly mounted – instead of the expected new tracks viewers were treated to a 48-hour livestream of a warehouse equipped with carpentry workbenches and speakers.

After a number of hours, a person who appeared to be Ocean became visible and proceeded to saw wooden boards into pieces. Later, the individual drilled holes and sliced metal poles. Intermittently, the person stopped work to check their phone. Throughout the footage, instrumental music played and the camera cut to alternate angles. It began to be believed that Ocean’s album would be released on Friday August 5. The day passed and no album appeared. But the enigma that is Frank Ocean was cemented.

Holding the limelight

Ocean is by no means the first to attempt to curate a sense of mystery, but in an age of oversharing, constructing anticipation on this level is difficult to achieve. There are few mainstream artists that can create such a feverish buzz on a mass scale. We see “buzz” being generated around artists through social media so often that it loses its power.

Ocean clearly knows this. Despite driving many crazy, the strategy he is adopting is a way of maintaining integrity and constructing an enigma in a culture that moves at a frenetic pace. The cryptic release strategy has of course created a spike in traffic to his website and his presence across almost all social media platforms has increased. According to Forbes, Ocean saw a near doubling of video views on both YouTube and Vevo – all without actually releasing any new music. Page views on Wikipedia are up more than 300%. On August 4, Ocean was a top trending search on Google, at more than half a million searches.
There are few artists that can find themselves in the spotlight, creating this kind of attention, by doing so little. This is, of course, an ideal position to be in when the long-awaited album finally arrives. His emphasis on a slowed down approach to the construction of the work and the labour involved presents Ocean as an artist who values the quality of the work – as a personal statement – over prolific output. Ocean, who has no official Twitter or Instagram account, has developed a sense of artistic integrity in an era where the concept is increasingly elusive.

This behaviour attracts both admiration and frustration, often in equal measure. Since the video footage was released, fans have dedicated an intense amount of energy to deconstructing its meaning. Images of the singer have been discovered in the code of the website. The footage deconstructed in minute detail – down to the type of saw Ocean held and the type of work for which it is commonly used. Apple employees, whose logo appeared in the video, were reportedly bombarded by eager fans demanding more information.

Frank the enigma

Another star who built his career on curated mystery was Prince, who Ocean has attested to being a fan of. Rarely giving interviews, allowing the music to be its own voice and a dedication to maintaining his privacy, he constructed a shimmering indeterminacy that lasted his entire career.

Yet Prince was famous long before the digital era dawned. In the contemporary social media driven music industry, artists must share and engage to maintain their fan base. Ocean’s careful disengagement with the main form of promotion available to artists presents a rebellious streak which is in keeping with his elegantly elusive music, the complex and knowing sensibility of which belies his entrance into the music industry via the controversial Los Angeles rap collective Odd Future.
Back when he entered the scene, Ocean’s music appeared challenging in a context where R&B was dominated by the slick, polished material of artists such as Chris Brown and Usher. Ocean wrote of familiar topics in the trope of the genre, but also of gay marriage, Islam, suicide and his absent father, topics that mainstream R&B rarely addressed. At the same time, the songs borrowed elements of popular songs from Coldplay and The Eagles, demonstrating the breadth of Ocean’s influences. After Channel Orange was released, Ocean became the epitome of a new R&B, arguably influencing the likes of Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo.

Ocean stands for artistic integrity and freedom of expression. He elegantly cultivates an elusive quality that has become his trademark and which has allowed him to remain in the spotlight in an era of over-saturation. Whenever the album is finally released (current rumours suggest November) this protracted period of seeming inactivity has proven that entrance into the inner life of Frank Ocean must be respected. And that, in and of itself, is worth waiting for.

First published by The Conversation UK


My colleague Dr Michael Goddard, Reader in Media at the School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK and I have been awarded a grant from Santander Universities, for our scoping visit to Brazil in July, to develop an international research network (UK, Brazil and other countries) on the audiovisual mediation of popular music.

Building on the research networking Michael has already developed in Brazil in both media and popular music, as well as our previous joint and independent successful published research in related fields, we plan in this visit to present our research into music videos, arena performance, music documentaries and other audiovisual mediations of popular music, while at the same time networking with Brazilian academics and planning a future bid for an externally funded international research network in this area.

Here’s a selection of the work we have published so far:


We are both looking forward to the beginning of an exciting international research project.

If you are interested in more information, please contact me at

More updates soon!


Call for Papers: Fame-inism: Feminism and Global Celebrity Culture

Special Issue of Celebrity Studies

 Guest Editors:

Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, University of Salford, UK

Natasha Patterson, University of Northern British Columbia, Canada

Camilla A. Sears, Thompson Rivers University, Canada

For this special issue of Celebrity Studies, the editors are seeking proposals on the topic of feminism and celebrity culture. In recent years, contemporary celebrity culture has broached the topic of feminism, and increasingly, celebrities – men and women – are expected to make very public subscriptions to or rejections of a feminist identity. For instance, popular magazines like Cosmopolitan, provides “A Handy Guide to Celebrity Feminists” – and ask questions like, Where do our favourite celebrities stand on feminism? Without question, celebrity culture has become an important site for the production of meaning or understanding about feminism, especially in light of the commonly held belief that the struggles of the feminist movement – gender equality, equal pay, and so on – have been achieved, rendering it outdated or not in tune with the concerns of young women in contemporary society. In this way, the concept of “postfeminism” has been a useful tool for thinking about how feminism is framed within popular culture. Yet, these ongoing debates about what feminism is, or is not, or who can claim membership, as writ large in celebrity culture and through celebrities, clearly demonstrates that the movement still carries importance and resonates with audiences. And in such a way, it seems key for scholars to attend to the question, what does feminism look like in this culture?

While we welcome proposals that attend to these issues from a Western perspective, our goal for this special issue is to reflect a diverse array of perspectives in terms of content and location. Therefore, this special issue aims to explore discursive struggles over the meaning of feminism and celebrity culture in both Western and non-Western contexts.

Suggested paper topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Thinking beyond Western borders – what can studies of celebrities cross-culturally, tell us about the state of feminism globally?
  • How do feminist theories/frameworks help us to understand or critically interrogate celebrity culture? What inequalities or power dynamics invite feminist critiques of celebrity culture?
  • The concept of (white) celebrity feminism and how this idea has gained ground globally via social media, particularly through the politics of the feminist celebrity philanthropist (e.g. #HeforShe/Emma Watson).
  • The relationship between surveillance culture and female celebrities; the policing of public figures
  • The rise of “ordinary” celebrities through the global circulation of reality TV formats and social media such as “localebrities” or “micro-celebrities”
  • Intersectional analyses of celebrity feminists/feminism
  • The rise of the “male celebrity feminist”
  • How does celebrity and sexuality intersect globally? Explore the rising fame and star quality of female actors within the adult pornographic genre – and their connections to a feminist identity

Interested authors should send a 500 word proposal and 200-word biography to by January 15, 2016. Please direct general enquiries to this email address as well. Acceptance notices will be sent out by February 15 2015. For accepted proposals, completed essays of 6000-8000 words will be due no later than June 1, 2016. Final publication of the special issue is expected late 2017. Only previously unpublished essays will be considered.


Cobb, Shelley. (2015). “Is this what a feminist looks like? Male celebrity feminists and the postfeminist politics of ‘equality’.” Celebrity Studies 6. 1: 136-139.

Hamad, Hannah and Taylor Anthea. (2015). “Feminism and Contemporary Celebrity Culture.” Celebrity Studies Forum Special 6. 1: 126-127.

Holmes, Su and Diane Negra, eds. (2011). In the Limelight and Under the Microscope: Forms and functions of female celebrity. NY: Continuum.

McElroy, Ruth and Rebecca Williams. (2011). “Remembering Ourselves, Viewing the Others: Historical Reality Television and Celebrity in the Small Nation.” Television & New Media, 12 (3), 187-206.

Meyers, Erin. (2014). “The ‘Ordinary’ Celebrity and Postfeminist Media Culture. Flow: A Critical Forum on Television & Media Culture. Available from:

Redmond, Sean and Su Holmes, eds. (2007). Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader. London: Sage.






I’m really pleased to announce the publication of the first comprehensive academic study of arena concerts, “The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment”. I co-edited with a great team;  Ben Halligan, Robert Edgar, Nicola Spelman. The book has chapters and contributions from: Sunil Manghani, Erich Hertz; Jon Stewart, Kimi Kärki, Kevin Holm-Hudson and many others. The book is dedicated to the late, great Sheila Whiteley.

It is the first such study of arena concerts and has a number of key features,
* interdisciplinary, taking in a number of academic fields, as befitting this contemporary subject,
* extensive interviews with key insiders who have worked with Miley Cyrus, Peter Gabriel, Spice Girls, Justin Timberlake, Keane, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue etc
* international list of notable contributors from the US, UK and Europe.…/the-arena-concert-9781628925555/

NWCDTP PhD scholarships in Media/Communication

We warmly invite expressions of interest further to applications for PhD studentships (full and part-time) from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, in the Media and Communications and Cultural Studies Pathways.

The Studentship covers all PhD fees, provides an annual stipend for the duration of your study (£14,057 for the coming academic year for full-time students), and access to addition funding for field research and further training.

Deadline for Expressions of Interest: Friday 4th December 2015

The University of Salford is a member of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWC DTP), which includes non-HE institutions such as the BBC, Home/Cornerhouse, Tate Liverpool, Opera North, FutureEverything, and FACT (Liverpool). In 2014, the Partnership was awarded £14 million of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to deliver postgraduate supervision, training and skills development.
The School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford has an international reputation for cutting edge research, both theoretical and practice-based, and is especially strong in the area of Media and Communications, as demonstrated by its performance in the 2008 RAE and 2014 REF in the Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management area of assessment (ranked 21st nationally, according to the power ranking).

Our media research environment is based at the heart of MediaCityUK, allowing for a unique access and engagement with media institutions like the BBC and ITV, reinforced by a rich programme of research events with both an industry and academic focus. NWC PhD students will be invited to work with our non-HE partners, so as to engage in research, placements and internships. We particularly welcome applications that seek to engage with our non-HEI partners in research / industry / showcase / training capacities (see

Media research within the School of Arts and Media is diverse, interdisciplinary and collaborative and has seen numerous internationally recognised outputs from academics as well as successful PhD completions and publication outputs.

Areas of expertise of our academic staff include: Film practice; Film history and theory; Media policy; Journalism studies; Celebrity studies; Media theory; Digital culture; Social media; Radical and alternative media; Internet regulation and governance; Television studies; Media politics; Transnational media; Urban cultures; Creative industries; noise; Celebrity studies; Cultural studies; Popular culture; Popular music and media; media and cultural theory.

Notable Salford media academics include: Prof Seamus Simpson, Professor Garry Crawford, Dr Michael Goddard, Dr Andy Willis, Dr Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, Dr Lloyd Peters, Dr Carole O’Reilly, Dr Sharon Coen, Dr Steve Ward, Dr Anthony Smith and Dr Richard Hewett.
How to Apply:
Prospective applicants who are interested in applying ­and eligible for funding ­will need to submit a draft PhD proposal by Friday the 4th December, 2014. Please send this directly to the Salford NWC media pathway rep Dr Michael Goddard ( and
We would expect you to have a first degree, and a completed or current MA, or equivalent professional experience.

Following that it will be necessary to complete a formal application for PhD study at the University of Salford by the 22nd of January, 2016, which is available here: and ultimately an application to the Northwest Consortium before 5PM, on the 12th of February.

For further information, please see our AHRC funding page:
and further information is available, including eligibility criteria and scholarship stipend rates, at NWC DTP site:

If you have further queries about the research specialisms in media or cultural studies in the School of Arts and Media, and the potentials for working with our non-HE partners, please contact the media pathway leader Dr Michael Goddard:

If you have any questions regarding the formal application procedure please contact


I’m very pleased to be able to announce the next project in the School of Arts and Media Television Studies Conference Series, Mad Men: The Conference, Nashville, Tennessee, USA Date: May 26-28, 2016.

Convened by the College of Media and Entertainment and the College of Liberal Arts at Middle Tennessee State University, USA, and The School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford, UK.

Keynote speakers to include Matt Zoller Seitz, author of the forthcoming Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion (2015).

Proposals are invited for a three-day international conference on the US television drama series Mad Men. Responding to the series’ conclusion in 2015, this timely event takes the opportunity to explore Mad Men in its entirety via a range of academic approaches. It aims to assess the series’ significant storytelling achievements, including its complex characters, innovative narrative structures, intricate mise en scène and its inventive deployment of popular music. It intends to explore the production conditions that gave rise to this creativity, analyzing the series’ links to the growth of the US basic cable sector as a major site of ‘quality’ TV drama and other key recent industrial shifts. It will look to ascertain the much-discussed Mad Men’s cultural impact, exploring the critical discourses and fan practices that have developed around the series. It furthermore seeks to consider the perspectives that the 1960s-set series brings to a transformative era of US social history, as well as trace its connections to contemporary cultural debates around such topics as race and gender. Through examining this culturally significant series from a number of perspectives, the conference will not only assess Mad Men’s key creative accomplishments but also use the series as a means to consider wider aspects of contemporary television culture, as well as broader societal issues.

Proposals (for single papers and panels of three papers) are invited on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  •   Mad Men and the 1960s
  •   Mad Men and intertextuality across media (e.g. film, literature, poetry)
  •   Mad Men and the representation of race, gender and sexuality
  •   Mad Men and contemporary television industries
  •   Mad Men and television authorship
  •   Mad Men and season/series finales
  •   Narrative structure in Mad Men
  •   Set design and visual style in Mad Men
  •   Character construction in Mad Men
  •   Performance in Mad Men
  •   Music in Mad Men
  •  Symbolism in Mad Men’s mise en scène
  •   Mad Men’s fandom
  •   Mad Men and critical discourses
  •   Mad Men’s promotional surround
  •   Mad Men and media convergence (e.g. social media, digital paratexts, streamed distribution) For a more extensive list of potential paper topics, see the following link:

    Individual proposals should be 250 word (approx.). Group panel proposals (three papers) should be 750 words (approx.). Deadline for submissions: December 31, 2015.

    Proposals and queries should be directed to: | To learn more and follow the development of the conference, visit the website:

    As the center of the country music industry, Nashville is one of America’s most culturally vibrant cities, featuring an exciting night life that draws upon the city’s musical heritage. Both out of state and international participants may want to come early and stay late.

    Conference co-conveners: David Lavery & Jane Marcellus (MTSU), Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, Anthony Smith, & Michael Goddard (University of Salford).


This month sees the launch of the Women in Film & TV North network at The University of Salford, MediaCityUK

The event, which is run in association with The University of Salford, is free to attend and open to WFTV members and non-members alike. I’ll be chairing the panel on Skills Shortages and Opportunities in the North of England.

Women in Film & TV (UK) is the leading membership organisation for women working in creative media in the UK, and part of an international network of over 10,000 women worldwide. Members of our organisation come from a broad range of professions spanning the entire creative media industry. This is an exciting time for the network and for the University of Salford to be involved in such a vital and vibrant organisation.

Event Producer: Janet Harrison, founder and director of Cofilmic, and WFTV Events Co-ordinator North of England. Kate Kinninmont, CEO of WFTV will introduce the panel.

Chair: Dr Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, Senior Lecturer in Media and Performance, University of Salford
Cat Lewis, CEO & Exec Producer, Nine Lives Media
Joanna Blake, Development Producer, BBC Writersroom
Bekki Wray-Rogers, Producer, Duck Soup Films
Caroline Cooper Charles, Head Of Film, Creative England

History of WIFTV

In 1989, a group of women came together for the first official WFTV (UK) meeting. They were a mix of business executives, creatives and performers, including Linda La Plante, Dawn French, and Janet Street Porter. These were successful women who were fed up with the still male-dominated industry which demanded they be engaged in a constant struggle to be heard and respected.

They resolved to take positive action and follow in the footsteps of organisations in LA and New York, which had been established in the 70s, to support women working in the film and TV industries. They did this by creating a network of members and organising workshops, events, mentoring and awards to help them progress in their careers.

In 1990 the first Women in Film and Television Awards ceremony was held to recognise the achievements of some of the most successful women the industry could boast. 24 years on, the Awards is the largest annual celebration of women working in film, TV and digital media in the UK and has become a ‘must attend’ event.

Details of the event can be found here:


Mad Men the Conference. Middle Tennessee State University, USA and the University of Salford, UK will host an international conference on the AMC series in May 2016 (dates TBA) in Murfreesboro, Tenneessee.

Prof David Lavery, Prof Jane Marcellus (MTSU), Dr Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, Dr Michael Goddard, Dr Anthony Smith (Salford)–co-conveners.

CFP forthcoming.

E-mail to join the mailing list.