“The ginger girl in the red dress”

It Matters To Me.

I am no stranger to the general misogyny and sexism that still pervades over a society that is clinging desperately for equality. On a regular basis I receive cat-calls and light abuse off pleasant gentlemen as i’m going about my day – and I deal with it. I know that not all men (and women) are like that, so I try to not let it phase me. However last night proved to be an altogether different level of ‘are you fucking kidding me?’

Lets set the scene: It’s Saturday night and i’m ready to partay after a long working week. I’m ready to let my hair down and get my glad rags on. The night began as normal, I got dolled up (which I won’t apologize for by the way, If I want to make myself look like a princess I will, which absolutely does not justify what is to…

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305MC: Power

The National Gallery, London.

 

I recently visited The National Gallery in London to view their painting collection. Everything about this place is steeped in history and culture. The paintings are old and revered, the building grand and imposing, and all the inside architecture is lavish with Victorian style tiling, dark wood and heavy detailing to the walls and ceilings. This immediate sense of history and grandeur gives the authoritative voice that what you are here to see is of incredible, unquestionable historic and cultural value, and you are here to respect and observe. It was somewhat like being an outside observer, but all the same the paintings and setting encourages you to look closer, and to keep looking and following the gallery around with it’s open layout of linking rooms without doors. 

Collections are assembled by artist, year and the themes painted. For example all the George Stubbs and John Constables are kept in the same room, as they depict relatively similar themes (animals and rural life). The Joseph William Turner collection is in the room adjacent to this, as his work is from a similar time period and style. Many of the Renaissance and mythology/Biblical inspired paintings were also grouped together.

The collective identity here is one of White European history and culture. Granted, this reflects the traditional background of the UK, but there appear to be no real celebrations of artists from outside of Europe or Caucasian areas. The paintings reflect a distinctly Imperialistic view of history and culture, valuing the very old and traditionally styled work, seen in the many classical paintings on display. I am not saying that any of this should be cast aside or forgotten in the wake of a now culturally diverse world, but the notion here, from the setting to the collections, is that of a celebration of White history, White culture, and White painters.

The stories told by the various rooms and paintings are easy to read. The small informative plaques beside each painting give a snapshot of history and background on each one, and some have larger plaques detailing the painter if they are of high enough note/have a large collection. Much of what is being told is Imperialist history. Whether paintings depicting peasant life or portraits of noblemen and women, it links back to the days of British upper class and the Empire. The large number of Renaissance painters too reflects a time of social change throughout Europe and a heavy interest in mythology and the Bible. However, the behaviour expected is the same for everyone. There are benches to sit and observe the paintings from, but the majority of people move slowly around and throughout the rooms observing the paintings and reading the inscriptions. No one was overly vocal about any paintings or artists, and there was a sense of quiet reflection and appreciation from everyone there.

This archive celebrates collective history, culture and identity. My own personal archive is naturally a reflection of my personal history, experiences and identity. I have been collecting scraps for my own archive for some years now, and have an entire box filled with diaries detailing the past 5 years, as well as another box filled with smaller items, such as ticket stubs, photos, rosettes, coins and event flyers. I enjoy collecting and remembering and in the times I do go back through this archive I am always finding things I had forgotten that I am glad I collected and remembered. Seeing the experiences I have had collected together in a box like this, and in my diaries, helps me to see what I have already achieved and is a good chart of personal growth (particularly with the diaries).

305MC: Spectacle

The 2013 reboot of popular gaming series Tomb Raider is my chosen example for spectacle. As the game focuses on the origin story of Lara Croft, it contains both cultural history and her personal history. The cultural history is based around the location of the game, a remote island in the Japanese archipelago. The game has a number of traditional Japanese buildings and temples, including historic artefacts (like jewellery, statuettes, and pottery) that span multiple time periods of Japanese history (from ancient right up to World War II), and includes some American, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish history as well (relating to shipwrecks or plane wrecks, some of which are Colonial/14th century ships and others are modern WWII fighter planes). It conveys the sense of past and history as a thing of excitement and wonder, encouraging the player to read and collect every historical item to fully understand the historical and cultural significance in the game.

The use of cultural history woven together with Lara’s personal history (illustrated through collected diary entries and gameplay) creates an in depth game with layers of representation and significance. On one hand, you have the historical nature of the game, providing relatively accurate information on Japanese history, evoking a sense of time, place and memory, and the turbulences that occurred throughout Japanese history, from feudal right up to World War II.

The ‘spectacular’ nature of the story lies in this intertwining of personal and cultural history. Lara Croft’s origin story is something many gamers have been curious about, and illustrating it in such a rich historical game setting as is done here creates a real sense of depth and spectacle to the gameplay and the game timeline/history. The subject of power is somewhat represented, although it is more about watching Lara unfold from frightened young archaeologist into a hardened adventurer complete with a full selection of weapons. The power in the game is about her personal development, rather than relating to the setting, although there is a sense of power regarding the idea of fallen empires from the past. 

In terms of relation to myself, I resonate with the character of Lara strongly. She has long been a video game icon and female hero of the gaming world, but here she is made more realistic, more tangible. Her fear at what she is faced with, yet overcoming it, coupled with her age (21) and inexperience feels quite close to me. While I am not stranded on an island with murderous cannibals as she is, I am still going forwards into a future that I do not have any certainties in. I will have to learn skills in a short space of time and adapt quickly to a professional working environment. The game reflects the time in my life now, much as the article described in memory reflects the sense of self I derive from my home life.

Debord and Spectacle 

“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”

Debord’s idea is that as we constantly accumulate the grand and the great over and over in representations of exciting, perfect, glamorous adventures and lives, it becomes an empty replica endlessly repeated: the emptiness of spectacle. People love to see the over exaggerated life, the adventure, the impossible rescue and the people so beautiful that they can barely be looked at for fear of blindness. Audiences crave this, because it takes away from the mundaneness of life, and media is form of entertainment and escapism for most users. People often are not interested in something totally new, they like to be comforted with the same themes – which leads to the empty heart of spectacle as slowly everything becomes so much larger than life it cannot ever possibly be real, and it becomes recognised as a hollow representation, although one which is loved and enjoyed.

305MC: Memory

The object I have chosen is the collar of my dog, Cara. Cara is the first dog I have owned, and we got her during a time that was difficult for us all, as my parents were getting divorced and we were preparing to move house. She will be 10 this year and I don’t see her as often as I would like while I am away at university. But this collar will always remind me of her, even after she is gone. If this collar were lost, I would feel like I had lost the tangible part of her that I could always keep.

DSC_0091 

Her collar is old and worn soft and smooth. It’s faded from all the times it’s been washed and caught in the rain on walks. No matter how hard we scrub it, it always smells of dog, but not in a bad way, in a homely, warm, familiar way. The smell of a warm pillow or a worn animal blanket always evokes the same smells and memories.

  DSC_0094 (1)DSC_0092  

Cara may be the first dog I have owned, but I truly hope she will not be the last. Dogs love unconditionally, and although she is stubborn, steals the sofa and begs for toast crumbs, all those things make her unique, and she’s helped me through a lot of difficult times, from my parents divorce to relationship break ups. I have a lot of happy memories attached to her and I know that once she is gone I will always look at her collar and remember them all.

cara

 

201MC – Updated CV

Hannah-Jane Albone

 

I am a 20 year old Media and Communications student currently in my second year at Coventry University. I have had a strong interest in Media since school, and my time at university has only strengthened this. This has culminated in a piece of my work being published in ‘Cinematic E-Magazine’in Apr’ 2013. Additionally my journalistic work has been referenced by New York Film Festival 2013, and I proofread a first draft of the published work Studying Bollywood. I have a variety of applicable and theoretical skills regarding the field of media, including writing, social media application, audience theory and understanding, research methodology, and gender studies (focusing on feminism and sexuality). My skills have been developed across a range of practical and theoretical modules, including:

 

  • Contemporary Theories
  • Living In The Digital World
  • Critical Media Methods
  • Media and Cultural Fields
  • Digital Screen Cultures
  • Understanding Media and Communication (1st and 2nd Year)
  • Public Relations

 

Additionally I have high IT Levels skills (Microsoft Office) and working knowledge of editing software (iMovie, GarageBand, Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition) alongside basic camera knowledge and storyboard skills. I am also very confident at speaking publically, and my team skills have been developed both in positions of leadership within groups and as working group members.

 

Education

2012-present                    Coventry University

                                           Media and Communications (BA Hons) [Predicted 1st Class]

Key Areas of Study:          Social Media, Audience, Genre, Narrative, Representation, Gender         and Sexuality, and Media Intertextuality.

 

2010-2012                        Stratton Upper School Sixth Form

                                          A Levels: English Language and Literature (A), History(B), Media Studies(A) [AS Level Geography (B)]

 

2007-2010                        Stratton Upper School

                                          11 GCSEs A*-C English (A*A*), Science (B), Maths (C)

 

Work Experience

 

Date: November 2013 – On-going

Location and Job Title: Coventry University – Academic Research Assistant

Duties: Working as a research assistant and co-author for Dr. Adrienne Evans on her current research project performing the background investigation looking into ‘Living Dolls’ and associated fields. Assisting with archiving website forums and comments, researching for articles online, and compiling my findings for analysis and discussions with relevance to the project at a fortnightly meeting. Co-authoring with Adrienne Evans, Mafalda Stasi and Gemma Commane, requiring professional communication and academic writing at an academic journal standard.

Skills: Academic writing / Research Methodology and Data Collection and Management/ Time Management at a Professional Level / Critical Analysis / Problem Solving / Group Working and Communication

 

Date: October 2012 – On-going

Location and Job Title: Coventry University – Head Writer at Coventry University East Asian Film Society

Duties: Writing reviews of films sent by Terracotta Films and Third Windows Distribution for publication on Cine-Vue Film Blog and cueafs.com. Attending events and festivals (including East Winds Film Festival and Udine Far East Film Festival) to work as a reviewer (including European and world premiere film reviews). I also edit the work of other writers on my team as necessary.

Skills: Leadership of a Small Team of Writers / Proof Reading / Journalism / Cultural Studies / High Pressure Time Management / Independent Projects / Transcription

 

Date: July 2012– Part-Time

Location and Job Title: Manor Farm Riding School – Groom

Duties: Part time job worked over the university holidays. I am responsible for feeding, stable management, field management, general horse care, assisting with lessons, and working with children on open days. Standards are high and I am responsible for achieving these standards in my work to ensure a safe and clean environment.

Skills: Team Working / Time Management / Working with Animals and Children / Hygiene, Cleaning and Health and Safety in High Risk Areas

 

Achievements and Personal Interests

  • Keen horse rider (15 years + experience). Raised £2000 for The British Horse Society 2011-2012, culminating in a charity ride across Iceland on native horses for seven days in a very difficult but very rewarding and enjoyable experience.
  • Intermediate recreational road runner (300 miles + a year)
  • Working on my blog HJAlboneMedia, with a collection of contemporary essays regarding popular areas such as Game of Thrones, as well as articles on Nintendo, RPGs, puppetry and Disney Princesses.
  • Video gaming, mostly focused on RPGs, with fantasy and historical games.
  • Passionate about gender equality, feminism, and animal rights and welfare.
  • Interested in Japanese culture and anime.
  • Enjoy spending time with friends and family, going out to dinner, attending art galleries and exhibitions, and spending time in the countryside.
  • Travelling to new places and exploring them. Most enjoy travelling to places with distinct cultures, landscapes and histories.
  • Watching films and television series – British and American series, with Japanese anime and East Asian cinema.

References available on request

201MC Professional Experience – Part 7: Ethics and Tumblr

I have mentioned in previous posts that I had to fill out ethics forms with regard to using a Tumblr account for a form of research. It was quite early in the research process that we decided one of the best ways to see into the online community of the Living Dolls would be through immersive research in the form of an engaged blog.

This first blog, under the name livingdollsandlolitas.tumblr.com, was set up in December 2013. I was aiming to get an image of how the Living Dolls and their fans see themselves in the online environment. I was collecting images from a range of other blogs on Tumblr dedicated to the Living Doll or Lolita movements. I found many sites in support of the doll look, offering advice and tips on how to achieve a more doll-like appearance everyday, and strong support from many online sites for the doll look as a real, sustainable appearance for every day. Alongside this lay a large number of people interested in the doll look for anime or cosplay purposes, providing another link between Shpagina and the aspect of dollyness/cosplay.

I filled out the ethics form from CU in accordance with setting up this as a research method, and had it approved by Ady for the research project. The blog was quite successful to start with, giving a good insight into the community. However, returning to university in the New Year, we met to discuss the progress over the Christmas break. Some of the followers of the blog believed I was a true member of the living doll community, and began messaging me for advice and help. This was my own fault, as on the blog I had not made it clear it was for research purposes, and instead had carried on sharing and gathering pictures much as any other fan in the community would. I bought these concerns to the meeting and the decision was made to shut the blog down immediately, as it no longer complied with the ethics of research.

Following the closure of livingdollsandlolitas.tumblr.com, it was decided that we should continue with Tumblr as a method of research. This time round however, I stuck much more closely to the ethics form. I filled out another ethics form, being more detailed in the application, which was then approved, enabling me to start a new blog. The new blog, anastasiyafansandresearch.tumblr.com, is explicitly stated as a research blog in the title, and there is a clearly marked sentence stating that any and all discussions may be used for research purposes. I also made the decision to have this blog focus only on the subject of our research, Anastasiya Shpagina, rather than the Living Doll movement as whole. The blog is used solely for picture collection and to search for the latest news and opinions about her within the community – this is done by following other Living Doll blogs but not engaging with them beyond reading updates.

I realise the mistake I made in the ethics of carrying out my research first time round, but luckily there was no damage done and I was able to erase and start over with a new, more focused and specific blog, which has ultimately been more successful then the generalised old one. Anastasiyafansandresearch.tumblr.com has actually been more successful than the old blog, oddly enough, given it is explicitly stated to be a research blog and not a typical Tumblr blog.

 

http://anastasiyafansandresearch.tumblr.com/ 

201MC Professional Experience – Part 6: SWOT Analysis and Skills

As I come to the end of the 201MC module, I decided it would be good reflection to look at my strengths, weaknesses, future opportunities and future threats after this experience. I’ve also looked at what skills I began with, what skills I’ve learnt and what I still need to improve upon for in the future of my professional career. I have made this specific to the job I carried out on professional experience rather than a more general CV style assessment of the SWOT analysis.

Strengths

  • Researching – research methods, succinct researching, precise reading/data extraction, compilation of raw research into workable documents, social media and photo/video analysis research.
  • Writing – note taking, academic writing (note form and essay/paper form)
  • Referencing – now familiar with SAGE New Media and Society Journal referencing style, similar to many other academic published journals. Bibliography compilation.
  • Time Management and Organisation – meeting deadlines, fulfilling set tasks for weekly/fortnightly meetings, fitting research around other work commitments from university.
  • Team skills – balancing the skills of the team to each other’s strengths, contributing and discussing ideas in equal terms
  • Communicating – discussions with the team and team leader, contributing ideas, listening and learning what direction to take the paper in. Asking for help when necessary, contributing when I have ideas.

Weaknesses

  • Academic writing style – still not advanced enough for publication, needs more work on the technical language/styling of phrases to become more academic in reading. Not enough use made of references/external sources.
  • Stress management – at times was difficult to balance the research commitments alongside university commitments. Being a long-term stress/anxiety sufferer this could be quite challenging at times to handle.
  • Sticking to topic – particularly in the beginning, I wandered off topic from the paper into areas that were somewhat related but not as directly as they should have been. This has been reflected in the amount of early research I have that has gone unused.
  • Ethics in research – I had not done any ethic-based research before and as a result the first blog I set up for research purposes was not ethical in its research purposes or execution for the topic. Had I known this I would have stuck to the later ethically sound style of the current research blog.

Opportunities (Future)

  • Dissertation – excellent research base ready to use for my dissertation next year, I feel very prepared to undertake my own research and write my own paper next year having had such good preparation this year.
  • Masters – Similarly, I feel like I have a much better understanding of what would be required of a Masters student and the research entailed in more professional publications after this experience. A Masters is now something I consider much more seriously as I feel it is more achievable and within my reach than previously.
  • Paid research assistant – I would definitely consider looking for a paid research assistant job after my time at university is finished. I think this professional experience reflects well on how I would be able to do the job.
  • Internship – in looking for internships the post has attracted a lot of attention from prospective employers, and I’ve easily been able to connect the skills from this position to other media jobs (even more practical ones), something that has surprised employers in interviews.

Threats (Future)

  • Finances – Masters and further education are very expensive, and research assistant jobs, particularly entry level ones, are not especially well paid.
  • Peer competition – coming out of university all of my peers will also have dissertations or similar examples of dedicated work to compete with in the job market.
  • Time Management in Third Year – I would like to keep working as a research assistant if possible, however I will have the added issue of managing my own research/work/dissertation alongside research commitments, which could be difficult.
  • Lack of graduate research positions – the majority of paid research assistants are minimum Masters level, often PhD are preferred. I would have a lot of competition if I were to continue looking for research assistant jobs directly after graduation.