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It’s hard work being a smart girl: How today’s schools and screens retell some very old stories about gender and learning

Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University Michele Paule explores real and media worlds of the high-achieving girl at the start of the 21st Century to show how girls are still struggling with some persistent myths about how they learn and how they should be.

In a study conducted across English secondary schools, internet forums and teen TV, Paule explores how girls respond and relate to stories—both experienced and fictional—about ‘smart’ girls:

“One of the most surprising findings of the research was how far back ideas about brilliant, erratic boys and dull, conscientious girls reach—right back to ancient Greece—and also how little actual scientific evidence there is underlying these ideas, even in an age of popularized neuroscience.”

“One of the most surprising findings of the research was how far back ideas about brilliant, erratic boys and dull, conscientious girls reach—right back to ancient Greece.”

Michele Paule, Senior Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication

“Yet girls, and those who work with them, still form the impression that their success is due to diligence rather than intelligence, that girls’ hard work somehow skews exam results, defrauding boys of their rightful place at the top.

“Girls themselves are aware of how limiting popular stereotypes of feminine achievement can be: geek is not necessarily chic, and intelligence has to be balanced with a hefty dose of femininity if a girl is not to risk social exclusion. As one participant noticed ‘even Hermione gets her teeth fixed’.

“The stereotypes are limited in other ways too. On the project’s www.smartgirls.tv forum, one girl asks, ‘Do you have to be posh to be smart?’ The answer is, depressingly, ‘yes’. For example, Dr Who companion Rose Tyler is excluded because ‘she is blonde and off a council estate’. Another respondent describes how she herself was sent to elocution lessons by her parents to combat prejudice against her regional accent. The project’s findings suggest that schools and the media still have a way to go to create conditions in which girls find it easy to thrive intellectually. As one school interviewee neatly summed up: ‘We need better stories’. Teachers and TV producers, over to you.”

A former secondary schoolteacher, Michele Paule is Senior Lecturer in Media, Culture and Education at Oxford Brookes University. She is currently researching girls’ ideas about leadership across different European contexts.Girlhood, Schools, and Media: Popular Discourses of the Achieving Girl is published by Routledge and is available for pre-order.

The Centre for Medical Humanities welcome their first research fellow

Dr Emmanuel Betta

Dr Emmanuel Betta

The Department of History, Philosophy and Religion are pleased to welcome Dr Emmanuel Betta to the research community at Brookes. He will be a Visiting Research Fellow for both the Centre for Medical Humanities and the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History.

Dr Emmanuel Betta is a researcher of contemporary history and an associate professor at the University of Rome, Sapienza. His current area of research, Catholic biopolitics, spans the research interests of both centres.

Expanding upon his research interests Dr Emmanuel said:

“From the mid nineteenth century to 1930, the Congregation of the Roman Inquisition, which had a decisive role in the definition of orthodoxy of Catholic discourse, started to create rules on topics concerning the control of life and body. From the forties onwards it focused on magnetism and hypnosis, birth control methods, surgical-obstetrical therapies for high-risk pregnancies, cremation of the bodies of dead people, human artificial procreation, whereas from the first years of the twentieth century it started to deal with sterilization and eugenics. These topics all had in common the body, and above all the fact that they were the product of a secularized view of the body itself, of life and death. These elements were no longer conceived and governed starting from a religious and Catholic semantics, but they were increasingly interpreted as starting from biomedical knowledge and perspectives.”

“The aim of my research is to develop the history of Catholic biopolitics, meaning the creation of a doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning the ways in which the different aspects of life are governed.”

Dr Emmanuel Betta

“I’m particularly interested in this change and in the way in which the Catholic Church reacted to the loss of control over the production of the semantics for the government of the body and the health. This interest has pushed me in the last ten years to examine specific aspects of this articulated disciplinary process, from the therapeutic interruption of pregnancy and the artificial insemination, to which I dedicated my first two books, to my last article focused on the discourse concerning birth control, in which emerged a relevant role of the English case for the inquisitorial disciplinary decisions. During my Visiting Fellowship I will work on the interplay between national case, in particular the English one, and this disciplinary process, with particular attention to the reception of the Inquisitorial documents in the medical and religious journals and to the analysis of the role of English Catholics in the eugenics discussions.”

For more information about the Centre for Medical Humanities please see here .

For more information about the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History please see here.

Academics awarded prize for paper on history of Docklands regeneration

Docklands-planning-imageTwo Oxford Brookes academics have been awarded a prize for a research paper which explores the history of the regeneration of the East London docklands and the setting up of the London Docklands Development Corporation.

Dr Sue Brownill from the School of the Built Environment and Professor Glen O’Hara from the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion at Oxford Brookes University, have been awarded the 2016 Biennial Planning Perspectives Paper Prize for their paper From Planning to Opportunism; Re-examining the Creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation.

The Biennial Planning Perspectives Prize is funded by Taylor & Francis and awarded to the best planning history article published in the previous two volumes of the journal.

In awarding the prize the judges commented: “This paper represents both methodologically and conceptually a very important work, challenging ideological and political clichés and investigating with historical tools (archival research) very recent developments, something quite uncommon.[it offers] a new and deep insight into a key moment in the history of planning that goes beyond simple discourses and analyses the complex articulation between actors, pushing on the frontline the issue of contingence in planning history.

“The authors have used careful historical skills and newly accessible archive resources to re-interrogate narratives of important and iconic events that constituted an urban change of truly world significance but which have grown bardic with years of telling by different ideological camps.

“Brownill brings an unrivalled knowledge of the community, political, professional and developer networks that came together in London Docklands built up over many decades of research including innumerable interviews with key actors going back to the earliest days of the initiative. O’Hara brings an extensive understanding of the economic and social policies of the post-war British state and a deep understanding of Britain’s changing long term relationship to the sea.

“This is an article that will, whatever we decide, be very widely read and cited, showcasing the journal for those many who are outside the planning history community.”

The article came out of joint research funded by the University’s Central Research Fund.

The prize was awarded at the 17th Biennial International Planning History Society conference held in Delft on 26 July 2016. The paper can be downloaded and read on Taylor & Francis Online.

International Relations, Politics and Sociology annual postgraduate day proves to be a great success

003The International Relations, Politics and Sociology Programme held its Annual Postgraduate Day on 22 June 2016. This mini-conference was a showcase for work being done both by research students and the current MA International Studies cohort. Prospective MA students and online viewers were able to take part via livestream.

Dr Stephen Hurt, course lead for MA International Relations (formerly International Studies), reports that he was delighted to welcome Dr Juanita Elias (pictured, being introduced by Dr Molly Cohran) from the University of Warwick, where she is an Associate Professor in International Political Economy, for a lecture on ‘Gender, IPE and Labour Migration: Perspectives from South-East Asia’. Her lecture covered some of the key findings of her recent academic publications. Starting from the key feminist claim that a focus on social reproduction is vital, Juanita convincingly demonstrated how the role played by domestic workers is central to an understanding of the political economy of South-East Asia. In doing so she argued that social reproduction is becoming increasingly marketised, with states like Malaysia and Singapore encouraging inflows of migration to this effect.

“We are very grateful to Dr Elias for joining us and for prompting a very lively and interesting Q&A session after her lecture”

After the session broke for lunch, guests heard from three current doctoral research students from the department. Kian Pourkemani outlined some of the themes of his project, which is looking at the right of self-determination within international law. Huw Houssemayne Du Boulay set out the design of his research, which seeks to explore the ‘idea’ of Crimea and how this has varied over time in relation to notions of Russian national identity. Emily Cousens then spoke to some of the work she is doing on an interdisciplinary project with Philosophy on the concept of vulnerability within the history of feminist thought.

The International Relations, Politics and Sociology annual postgraduate day concluded with two sets of parallel panels where current MA students gave short presentations on their summer dissertation projects.

These presentations demonstrated the fascinating range of topics that our MA students are conducting research on. The following projects are just a sample to demonstrate the breadth of their interests:

  • ‘To what extent will the continued automation of labour impact social stratification in the global political economy?’.
  • ‘The relationship between scientific knowledge and political ecology in correcting environmental justice’.
  • ‘How a civil society organisation – Pelitit – is promoting food sovereignty and agro-ecological farming practices in Greece’.
  • ‘Producing in/security and its objects: discourse analysis of the reproduction of French citizen after the Charlie Hebdo attacks’.

Find out more about MA International Relations, or research at Oxford Brookes. Keep an eye on the Department of Social Sciences events page to take part in the next postgraduate day in June 2017.

PhD student receives funding award from Royal Historical Society

Daniel ReedDaniel Reed, a PhD student from Oxford Brookes University and a previous winner of a Royal Archives award, has now gained funding from the Royal Historical Society.

“I’m delighted to receive this generous award from the Royal Historical Society. The funding will allow me to make a crucial research trip to Yorkshire, where I plan to visit the archives at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research and York Minster library.”

Daniel Reed, PhD student

Daniel’s thesis ‘The Clerical Profession in the North of England, 1714-1760’, researches the administration and patronage within the Church of England during the mid-eighteenth century.

Daniel remarked “I’m delighted to receive this generous award from the Royal Historical Society. The funding will allow me to make a crucial research trip to Yorkshire, where I plan to visit the archives at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research and York Minster library. This is to support my thesis and wider research into ecclesiastical affairs and early newspapers in the North of England.”

Daniel is a part-time PhD student in the department of History, Philosophy and Religion under the supervision of Professors William Gibson and Joanne Begiato

Professor Begiato said “I’m very proud of Daniel’s continued success in attaining awards, which secures funding for his doctoral research. These achievements are testament to his excellent scholarship and hard work.”

Founded in 1868 The Royal Historical Society has become one of the foremost societies in the UK. It works with professional historians advancing the study of the past.

Leading Humanities and Social Sciences academics recognised in new research excellence awards

REX_2016The Research Excellence Awards are a new initiative introduced by the University as part of Oxford Brookes’ commitment to supporting research-active academics.

Professor Gary Browning, Associate Dean Research and Knowledge Exchange, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, explains: “The Research Excellence awards are a timely and positive initiative, allowing some of our most successful researchers to press forward in their research. We are delighted that researchers across the Faculty have been recognised for their outstanding research projects, notably monographs and impact case studies. I am sure that the outputs they produce will be excellent.”

Following a recent application period, the winners of the inaugural Research Excellence Awards from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences were as follows:

School of Education

Professor Graham Butt

Department of English and Modern Languages

Dr Simon White

Dr Dinah Roe

Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

Professor Roger Griffin

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday

School of Law

Dr Simon Cooper

Department of Social Sciences

Professor Tina Miller

Professor Anna Nekaris

Researchers were able to apply for one of two levels of award worth either £10,000 or £20,000 which would contribute towards research leave or employment of a research assistant in supporting a project. The scheme is funded through the Central Research Fund and is intended to provide enhanced support for research excellence. It complements Quality-Related Funding at Faculty and Department levels which supports research and knowledge exchange more broadly.

The intention of the university is to continue the scheme annually as part of Oxford Brookes’ investment in research excellence and in supporting the aims of the recently revised Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2016-2020.

Oxford Brookes Historian offers a new take on the making of modern public health

Dr Tom Crook, Postgraduate research tutor

This month sees the launch of a new book by an Oxford Brookes historian on the development of public health in the nineteenth century.

In Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830-1910, Tom Crook explores the world of Victorian Britain, and revisits a basic question: ‘when and how did public health become modern?’

“For me, the Victorian period marks a critical threshold in British history. It’s during this period when you see Britain’s entrance into the modern world; but you also see Britain’s role in making that world modern – for me, that’s why it’s such an exciting period.”

DR TOM CROOK, SENIOR LECTURER IN MODERN BRITISH HISTORY

Tom said: “It’s not just about Victorian public health; it’s also about trying to understand what made modern public health modern, and I wanted to offer a fresh perspective on that.”

“I felt that the whole history of Victorian public health had been very well studied from multiple perspectives. For example, there is an enormous amount of literature on sewerage systems, small pox vaccination, the management of food, sanitary inspection, and so on; but I thought that there was still this important new story that could be told about Victorian public health.”

“It’s a book that I hope will encourage debate, and not just about public health, but also how we might think again about other fields of governance, such as education, the poor law, penal reform and policing.”

Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830-1910 is published by University of California Press

Tom Crook is the Postgraduate Research Tutor for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion at Oxford Brookes University.

 

 

More doctoral success for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion in a record-breaking semester

PG graduation

Last week, Melanie Bashor successfully defended her doctoral thesis entitled “Engineering Tolerance: Origins of Multicultural Education Policies in the Atlantic World from 1941‒1988.

Melanie’s success rounds off a record-breaking semester for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion, bringing the total of doctoral completions this year to ten.

Recent completions also include:

  • Dr Stephen Massie, “The Imperialism of Cecil John Rhodes: Metropolitan Perceptions of a Colonial Reputation.”
  • Dr Jenny Wright, “Public Health Women Doctors in England, 1965-1991.”
  • Dr Christine Bianco, “Modern Art for Middle America: American Abstraction in Mass Magazines, 1946–1960.” Director: Dr Elizabeth Darling
  • Dr Catriona Gilmour-Hamilton: “A Cohort of One: Oral Narratives of Cancer Research in Britain, 1970–2010.” Directors: Dr Viviane Quirke and Dr Marius Turda

“I’m absolutely delighted. Doctorates don’t happen overnight, of course, and the success we’re currently enjoying reflects years of hard work on the part of students and their supervisors right across the department”Dr Tom Crook, Postgraduate Research Tutor

“I’m absolutely delighted. Doctorates don’t happen overnight, of course, and the success we’re currently enjoying reflects years of hard work on the part of students and their supervisors right across the department,” said Dr Tom Crook, Postgraduate Research Tutor for the department.

“The good thing,” he added, “is that this hard work continues, and there are plenty more in the pipeline. So watch this space!”

The department of History, Philosophy and Religion has nine interconnected research communities, supporting our doctoral students and encouraging wide participation through partnerships, research centres, conferences and public events.

Further information about our current cohort of doctoral students, including student profiles, can be found here.

 

Oxford Brookes University to host the 6th annual National Student Conference for the Royal Anthropological Institute!

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The Oxford Brookes Anthropology Society will be hosting the 6th annual National Student Conference for the Royal Anthropological Institute on Wednesday 18 May.

The annual conference is open to all students nationwide, both undergraduate and postgraduate. Tickets are available here, with the £10 attendance fee including refreshments for the day. The day will begin at 9am for registration, ready for a 10am start in the Union Hall.

The theme for the conference is ‘Anthropology in the 21st Century’, a broad theme that will display the broad range of research being conducted in the field. It will be a fantastic opportunity for students to present their work in the form of papers and posters. The day will finish with a keynote speaker (TBC) and a wine reception.

For more information, contact obanthropology@gmail.com

 

 

PhD studentships now available for September 2016 start!

8460 800 by 430The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University is pleased to offer a number of full-time PhD Studentships across a range of subject areas for a September 2016 start.

The successful candidate will receive an annual payment of £14,000 as a stipend towards living expenses for a maximum of three years.  Home/EU fees will also be covered by the relevant Department for a maximum of three years.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences spans a diverse range of disciplines that include social sciences, history, philosophy, religion, education, law, English and modern languages, and has a long tradition of producing world-class research. The REF 2014 results confirm our ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ research status in a range of subjects, and serve as official recognition of the expertise, dedication and passion of our academic community. We are now accepting applications for the following PhD studentships:

 

Department of Social Sciences

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in ‘Lemurs as protectors of the forest: Lemur seed dispersal, forest regeneration and local livelihoods in the littoral forest fragments of Madagascar’ The supervisory team will be led by Dr Giuseppe Donati (Primatology/Biological Anthropology), with Professor Kate Hill  (Anthropology). This proposed PhD project will examine the assumed role of lemurs’ forest regeneration and the likely value of this to local human populations.

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in Challenging Security Anew: Probing the Bases and Limits of Critical Security Studies. The supervisory team will be led by Dr Tina Managhan (International Relations) with Dr Doerthe Rosenow (International Relations). This proposed PhD project will explore the ontological and philosophical underpinnings of post-structuralist Critical Security Studies with the aim of furthering its critical ethos and politics.

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in Exploring family, care work and fatherhood in the ‘age of migration’. The supervisory team will be led by Professor Tina Miller (Sociology) with Dr Maja Cederberg (Sociology). This proposed PhD project will investigate the role of fathering and examine the emotion work involved in transnational migration, focusing on fathers who are migrants coming to the UK. In particular it will explore how men who are fathers navigate expectations of paternal care and associated emotion work across their home and host country, and how parental obligations and responsibilities are understood, maintained and practiced over time and across borders.

 

Department of English and Modern Languages

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in ‘Avant-Garde Writing, Technology and the Everyday’. The supervisory team will be led by Professor Alex Goody (Twentieth-Century Literature), with Dr Eric White (American Literature).  We are interested in proposals that examine the interactions between the avant-garde writers of modernism and its aftermath and the technological world of the twentieth century. The proposed research should aim to produce a new account of the relationship between the modernist ‘revolution of the word’ and the contingencies and externalities of living in a modern world radically reconfigured through technology (such as transport, inscription, information, communication, surveillance, prosthesis, augmentation and warfare).

 

Department of History, Philosophy and Religion

Applications are invited for a PhD Studentship in ‘The Art of Pre-Raphaelite Criticism’. The supervisory team will be led by Professor Christiana Payne, (History of Art) with Dr Dinah Roe (19th Century Literature). The proposed project will examine the role of contemporary criticism in the development of the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic, with particular reference to the work of William Michael Rossetti and Frederic George Stephens.