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FACULTY OF ARTS PhD Opportunities


ABOUT PhDS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON At the University of Wolverhampton, the aim of our research programmes is to give each student the most solid base possible to launch further research and career development. We endeavour to provide you with relevant and appropriate research skills development and methods training, as well as support your development of research related skills including IT, presentation and career planning. You can undertake a research degree in prescribed fields of study and disciplines in which the University has appropriate and relevant research expertise and resources to support high-quality research degree programmes. To receive your degree, you must satisfy a team of specially-appointed examiners that both your thesis and oral defence have achieved the learning outcomes appropriate to the award sought.


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ENTRY REQUIREMENTS Applicants for a research degree will normally hold: • a first or upper second class honours degree, or • a Master’s degree, or • evidence of prior practice or learning that is accepted by the Dean of Research Applicants whose entry award was not delivered in English, or non-native speakers of English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in English to the level of an overall IELTS score of 7.0

FACULTY OVERVIEW The Faculty of Arts is an exciting and vibrant place to be, where creativity and personal discovery go hand-in-hand with scholarship and academic endeavour. Whether your interest is art and design, humanities, media, or performing arts, each of our four Schools has a wide range of expertise and resources, and you can look forward to undertaking your research in some inspirational surroundings using state-of-the-art technology.

You’re welcome to contact us at any point if you’d like to talk to us if you’re working on a research proposal to read for a PhD. FACULTY OF ARTS SAMPLE PHD RESEARCH PROJECTS The rest of this booklet contains a list of sample PhD research projects that are available now for applicants in the Faculty of Arts. These are sample projects for guidance, for applicants who wish to research in these particular areas. We are happy to receive new proposals, specific to the research interests of applicants.

HOW TO APPLY If you wish to be considered for PhD research in any of these areas, please indicate this as part of your initial application to us. You can make your application online. Visit: wlv.ac.uk/study-here/how-toapply/3---making-your-application/ research-applications/. Please complete an Expression of Interest, and note which project you wish to engage. Alternatively the Expression of Interest can also be used for any proposed area for MPhil or PhD research.


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SAMPLE AVAILABLE PROJECTS

FACULTIES OF ARTS: Arts-Based Research: New Approaches to Learning and Teaching

p6

New Approaches to Museums

p6

Migrants and their Stories, post-Brexit

p7

Comparative Radical Philosophy: critique of tradition, ideology and identity

p7

Caste as a norm: The possibility of moral evaluation

p8

Capitalism and suicide

p8

Gradual Process as a creative tool

p8

Contemporary approaches to music notation

p9

Representation and Popular Culture

p10

Feminism at the Crossroads

p10

Religion and branding

p11

Religion/spirituality and Popular Culture

p11

Data and Society

p12

Social Media and the Changes in Journalism Structure and Agency

p13

The Lonely Society

p13

Radicalisation and the Media

p14

Screen Animals

p14

Women in the Film Industry

p15

Representations of Suicide

p16

Authenticity and Screen Media

p16

Alternative and Resistant Lifestyles in the 21 Century

p17

Health, Fitness and the Media

p18

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Capitalist Modernity and Contemporaneity: Philosophical and Interdisciplinary Approaches

p19

Figures of the Human and Post-Human in Contemporary Philosophy

p20

The Legacies of the 1917: Marxism, Philosophy and Artistic Avant-Gardes

p20

Somatic Practice and Laban’s Movement Analysis

p21

Designing for Health

p22

Designing for behavioural change

p22

Developing hybrid craft practices

p23

Political Economy and Cultural Theory Today

p23

The Avant-Garde and Time

p24

Perfectionism and Social Theory

p24

CROSS-FACULTY PROJECTS: FACULTIES OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AND ARTS: The 1967–1969 Sikh Bus Drivers’ Dispute in Wolverhampton

p25

Religion and Public Discourse in contemporary Britain

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THE DETAIL:

ARTS-BASED RESEARCH: NEW APPROACHES TO LEARNING AND TEACHING There is a growing global awareness of art-based research, which uses art as the method of enquiry and can also be the outcome of enquiry. However it could be argued that its use has primarily remained within the parlance of some contemporary PhD research and has not made significant impact upon arts education more broadly. We are interested in how this way of doing research might be tested as new ways of developing learning and teaching approaches at undergraduate level arts programmes. We would welcome applicants with a commitment to working across a range of arts disciplines. Researching at the University of Wolverhampton would provide a setting within a rich array of arts and with a commitment to learning and teaching with particular access to the Arts Learning and Teaching Research (ALTR) Group based in the Faculty of Arts. Possible supervisor: Prof. Ross Prior

NEW APPROACHES TO MUSEUMS Bringing museums to life can be a particular challenge. Within the context of museums there is much work to be done in terms of how knowledge, empathy and critical understanding is developed by visitors. The use of 1st person interpretation by actor-educators can be a popular method for heightening engagement in museums and exhibits. We are interested in how we can examine the effectiveness of various modes of delivery and the particular techniques used. What adaptations for visitors are made depending upon such factors as age, gender, ethnicity, health or socio-economic status? We offer access to our already established networks of museums as potential sites of enquiry. We are open to a range of research methods, including ones that position the performer as researcher. We provide a commitment to learning and teaching with particular access to the Arts Learning and Teaching Research (ALTR) Group based in the Faculty of Arts. Possible supervisor: Prof. Ross Prior


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MIGRANTS AND THEIR STORIES, POST-BREXIT Narratives are the most important part of our constructions of self, but it is precisely in the case of migrants that narratives are particularly rich in elements of social and cultural identity. Moreover, narrative is not an autonomous event, interwoven with the socio-cultural and political-historical, as well as spatiotemporal, context. If the individual narrative is repeated by many tellers in the same or similar canonical form, then it becomes a grand narrative – a blueprint for all stories. Usually, migrants’ stories are dominated by element of insecurity and lack of stabilisation. However, that wasn’t a case of EU migrants living in the UK, who enjoyed a relatively stable environment, guarded by the EU freedom of movement principle. That changed overnight after Brexit referendum. We welcome applicants who are willing to investigate whether, and if yes, then how, Brexit tests, challenges or questions earlier way of positioning of EU-nationals living in the UK and how the micro-level of individual/semi-private stories feeds into general patterns of transnational living in a changing context of a political landscape. We are particularly keen on candidates interested in ethnographic as well as netnographic inquiry within discourse and narrative analytical framework. Possible supervisor: Aleksandra Galasinska

COMPARATIVE RADICAL PHILOSOPHY: CRITIQUE OF TRADITION, IDEOLOGY AND IDENTITY The discipline of philosophy has recently come under scrutiny for its insular approach, locked within either the analytical or the continental traditions of doing philosophy each pursuing internally defined problems. Against this practice, there is emerging scholarship in comparative radical philosophy, bringing neglected figures from non-Western traditions into juxtaposition with radical philosophers. We are interested in exploring the ideas of critique of tradition, ideology, identity and protest, in the works of Dr B. R. Ambedkar, in comparison with Franz Fanon, Althusser, Marx, Lenin or another radical thinker. This would be done with a view to initiate a dialogue between Ambedkar and the continental tradition of radical thought. Possible supervisors: Meena Dhanda and Stefano Pippa


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CASTE AS A NORM: THE POSSIBILITY OF MORAL EVALUATION Caste is widely recognised as a cultural practice associated mainly with South Asian communities, even when they are dispersed globally. Recent research has established the intellectual connections between the concept of caste and the ideas of segregation, hierarchy and oppression. The conceptual affinity of caste with ‘race’ is being increasingly noted. This project will interrogate the consolidation of caste as practice done through an appeal to norms. It will analyse the ways in which such norms seen as morally binding constitute subjectivities. Using critical theory, the project will examine the potential for a critical moral evaluation of caste as a norm-governed practice. Possible supervisors: Meena Dhanda and Stefano Pippa

CAPITALISM AND SUICIDE Commencing from the thought of Durkheim, this interdisciplinary project will engage with the social theoretic and philosophical understanding of suicide. It was Durkheim’s position that religious affiliation gave protection against suicidal tendencies: the stronger the religious sentiment, the less likely suicide would occur. In the 21st century, the strength of religious sentiment is now linked to increase in suicidal terrorism. This project will analyse the changing meanings of death and suicide. The research could include analyses of empirical data on a selection from a wide range of phenomena such as teenage suicide pacts, spree killing, medically assisted suicide, or workers’ suicides. The aim of using data would be to refine the concept of death and suicide within capitalist modernity. Possible supervisors: William Pawlett and Meena Dhanda

GRADUAL PROCESS AS A CREATIVE TOOL The conception of music as a gradual process, stemming from Steve Reich, has enabled a wide range of creative approaches which explore the notion of gradual transformation of musical materials as constituting the artistic work. There is presently a great need to explore both the creative potential, and the experiential phenomena, at play in this music. The project will explore lineages of creative work utilising gradual process, understanding and situating histories within relevant performative and technological cultures. It will also investigate the perceptual and cognitive aspects of our experiential processing within these sensory environments.


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Whilst the project will primarily be based in music and sound, across a range of media and performance/realisation environments, it may also draw upon a wider range of arts disciplines such as the many visual art forms which utilise gradual process, in order to understand how approaches are modified across different modes of presentation. The project will produce a portfolio of creative work which builds upon these understandings of gradual process, supported by an accompanying thesis which contexualises the work and articulates the research imperatives as they relate to the experience of gradual process. Wolverhampton has a strong tradition of supporting and developing practice research, and to bolster your reputation as an artist researcher we offer support for the dissemination of your research via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing so as to develop a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisor: Richard Glover

CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES TO MUSIC NOTATION The approaches to conceiving, formatting, and delivering performance directions to musical interpreters has diversified significantly in recent years, signalling further attempts to explore the methods of communication and interpretation inherent in musical rehearsal and performance scenarios. This project would explore a wide range of notational methodologies, contextualising new conceptions of the role of traditional composer-performer relationships and different modes of instructions in order to reveal the intentions and consequences of a variety of different creative strategies. You will be based in the School of Performing Arts at the University of Wolverhampton, where you would have the opportunity to work closely with theatre and dance researchers in order to contextualise notational developments further, alongside a vibrant community of creative researchers in music and music technologies. Your research would involve archival, survey-based and interview-based methodologies, and you would have the opportunity to produce creative outputs from your project which would develop from the findings of your contextual research. Possible supervisor: Richard Glover


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REPRESENTATION AND POPULAR CULTURE Questions around resolving the marginal status of certain social groups are often raised in respect to aspects of popular culture. Popular culture – particularly television dramas – have long been read in terms of adhering to assumptions that underline a social status quo, or beginning to engender a questioning of that status quo. For marginalised social groups, the idea of positive and progressive, or even just a “fair” representation, can be a matter for discussion, political pressure and even activism. Some state broadcasters, in receipt of government funding, find themselves in difficult positions: wanting to be progressive, but in order to do so needing to raise difficult matters to those who financially back them, and may be unsympathetic to progressive representation. We warmly welcome applications that seek to look at this area – particularly in respect to social groups defined by gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Researching at the University of Wolverhampton would offer a unique opportunity for a comparative study: to consider the history of British or Western popular culture, and to extend theoretical / analytical models to international examples. Research can be archival, theoretical/historical, and survey-based. We welcome creative outputs as part of your research. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisor: Ben Halligan

FEMINISM AT THE CROSSROADS The movement from Second to Third Wave feminism in Western Europe and North America has been seen by some as a trajectory following, roughly: 1) radical positions that sought to overturn patriarchal norms, 2) to reasonable positions that sought to modify patriarchy norms, 3) to retrograde positions that had no issue with conforming to patriarchal norms. The latter phase, associated with Third Wave feminism, has, for some, engendered a generational split in feminists. Second Wave feminists have found themselves confronted by a certain problem: what if the emancipated Western female choses to behave as if not emancipated at all? The resultant disagreements have been particularly pronounced since they come at a time of wide-spread social media use. This enables both grassroots political groups to form, and yet at the same time exerts pressure, particularly on young women, to be seen to be “performing” certain roles and identities.


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We warmly welcome applications that seek to look at this area – particularly in respect to aspects of social media, popular culture, education, and government policy. Researching at the University of Wolverhampton would offer a unique opportunity for a comparative study: to consider the history of Western feminism, and to extend theoretical / analytical models to international examples. Research can be archival, theoretical/historical, and survey-based. We welcome creative outputs as part of your research. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisor: Ben Halligan

RELIGION AND BRANDING The twentieth century has seen the growth and expansion of consumer brands, a topic which now dominates the discipline of advertising. It would seem that the possibilities for branding have increased; it is not simply goods and companies that are branded but even celebrities. A few theorists have explored the religious aspects of branding but this is still a relatively new field. This project examines the crossover between religion and brands to look at how brands have religious features, in that they are bestowed with quasi-religious aspects that set them apart from other brands, promise community and reward loyalty. In turn religion, as a commodity, has also become branded and marketed in countless ways. This study examines the relationship between religious discourse and branding. Possible supervisor: Rina Arya

RELIGION/SPIRITUALITY AND POPULAR CULTURE What is the relationship between religion/ spirituality and popular culture? It is generally thought that religion and popular culture can be classified in two distinct domains, which the French sociologist Émile Durkheim termed ‘the sacred and the profane’. However, it is increasingly recognised that the relationship between religion and popular culture is far more complex than positing a simplistic opposition. Examining the complex interactions between religion and popular culture is an important means of understanding the nature of religion and spirituality in contemporary culture.

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We warmly welcome applications that explore any aspect of the interplay between religion/spirituality and popular culture/ media. Examples of themes that could be explored are: the ways in which religious traditions utilise popular cultural forms to communicate ideas about the sacred; the argument that popular culture now performs many of the meaning making functions traditionally ascribed to religion; religious images, tropes and narratives in popular media texts, or the way that some popular cultural texts could be considered as blasphemous. Your focus can be on any religious tradition and/or spirituality, and you should adopt a non-confessional religious studies/cultural studies approach to your proposed research. You will be fully supported in your research by academic staff with expertise and publications in this field. You will be encouraged to disseminate your research via conference presentations, publications in academic journals and social media. Possible supervisor: Stephen Jacobs

DATA AND SOCIETY Big Data is increasingly seen as the next big breakthrough in research, journalism, business, or health. At a time when data is created every second via our digital interactions and social media activities, understanding the role that data is playing in society has become crucial. Big Data collected from social media or smartphones can provide real-time awareness about our health, fitness levels, sleep habits, news consumption behaviours, political protests or consumer behaviours. Yet scholars and policymakers face unprecedented challenges and opportunities when assessing the benefits, risks, and harms of data production and data-collection processes. Big data practices are reconfiguring social, cultural, academic, industry, or business relations, and are reshaping every aspect of our lives, enabling new modes of interaction and new opportunities for knowledge. Our University aims to help society and individuals understand the mechanisms of big data by providing and encouraging innovative research that can ground public debates, national policies, and can advance social science research. We welcome projects that explore the significance of data and information within contemporary societies, particularly projects that engage with: data journalism; data and news; fake news; data analysis and visualization; surveillance and big data; data and social movements, data research methods; ethics in big data research; data, culture and society; data and health; data and PR; data and politics; data in education; data and film/film industry; data, human rights and human security. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisors: Bianca Fox; possible second supervisor Aleksandra Galasinska


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SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE CHANGES IN JOURNALISM STRUCTURE AND AGENCY Journalism structure and agency has been modified since the development of web 2.0 as a platform for reporting, producing and disseminating news. Journalism professionals have faced new forms of news production that have modified the relationship that journalists used to have with audiences and contributors. The traditional top-down paradigm that shaped the relationship with audiences has moved to a new bottom-up parading, that allow audiences to interact with news creators faster and closer. Particularly the introduction of different forms of social media (E.g. blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) has modified this relationship, challenging the way in which news stories are produced. Technological changes have facilitate audiences to produce and publish their own content, but concentration of news media ownership has brought new forms of hegemony into the news media narratives that audiences are now challenging. We welcome proposals that analyse the impact of social media into journalism agency and structure within the UK and abroad, particularly projects that engage with alternative journalism, news media economy, citizen journalism, participatory journalism and newsroom workflow, multimedia and mobile news productions. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisors: Maria Urbina; possible second supervisor Aleksandra Galasinska

THE LONELY SOCIETY Tackling loneliness across the UK is lately a high-debated topic. With the Campaign to End Loneliness launched in 2011, the BBC documentary The Age of Loneliness (2016) and then the launch of Jo Cox’s Commission on Loneliness in January 2017, loneliness makes the media headlines and dealing with it is generating intense debates. Research conducted so far shows that when discussing loneliness, the assumption is that we are talking about elderly people, usually ignoring young adults who also suffer from loneliness.

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We welcome projects that analyse loneliness and mental health in young adults, particularly projects that engage with: young people stories of loneliness, loneliness and the media, loneliness and the use of social media/ mobile phones, loneliness and health, children and loneliness, immigration and loneliness. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisors: Bianca Fox; possible second supervisor Dariusz Galasinski

RADICALISATION AND THE MEDIA Terrorism dominates news media on an ever-increasing scale. So too do the activities of radical groups and individuals filter into populist magazines, internet, and cinema to the extent that all forms of media have become potential conduits for the inadvertent promotion of terrorism. This raises questions concerning the significance of both fictional representations and factual imagery to escalating terrorist events. While there has been considerable work done on social media and internet studies, to date there is limited analysis of the roles of other types of media in the stimulus for radicalisation. We warmly welcome applications that seek to examine the intersections of media and radicalisation and how this might relate to, for example, gender, age-group, and social background, or indeed, the nuances of visual representation. Research can be archival, textual, theoretical/historical, or survey-based. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisors: Fran Pheasant-Kelly; possible second supervisor George Kassimeris

SCREEN ANIMALS The Performing Animals (Regulation) Act of 1925 was introduced to regulate the exhibition and training of performing animals, insisting on local authority registration, but, more pertinent, the 1937 Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act legislated to ban deliberate and actual cruelty to animals in film. As stated in Parliament, it had one object ‘and one object only—that is, to prevent cruelty to animals in the production of cinematograph films’ (Cautley 1937). A similar situation exists in America. ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ is the title of the guidelines laid out by the American Humane Association which has operated to protect animals on set since 1870, its mission ‘to ensure that they are treated humanely with the respect


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and compassion they deserve’ (AHA 2015: 3). In a similar vein to British legislation, USA seeks to protect animals in the pre-production, production and post-production stages of filming while issuing their signature statement as an end credit certification to reassure audiences. We warmly welcome applications that seek to look at this area – particularly in respect to the representation of animals in film and television. Researching at the University of Wolverhampton would offer a unique opportunity for the study of animals in fiction and factual format. Research can be archival, theoretical/historical, and survey-based. We welcome creative outputs as part of your research. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisors: Stella Hockenhull; possible second supervisor Fran Pheasant-Kelly

WOMEN IN THE FILM INDUSTRY The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTAs), formerly the British Film Academy, was formed in 1947 and includes an annual awards ceremony with a Best Director category. Since its inception there have been few female nominees for this honour and even fewer winners, the exception being in 2009 when American director, Kathryn Bigelow, was successful with The Hurt Locker. The only female British nominee for the award is Lynne Ramsay in 2011 for We Need to Talk About Kevin. This not only reflects the fact that there are not many female film directors currently working in Britain, or indeed the world, but also that their productions escape recognition even though their output is innovative and diverse. This is the situation for many above the line roles within the film industry, including screenwriters and producers. We warmly welcome applications that seek to look at this area on either a national or international scale – particularly in respect to women working within the film industry. Researching at the University of Wolverhampton would offer a unique opportunity and can be archival, theoretical/historical, and survey-based. We welcome creative outputs as part of your research. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisors: Stella Hockenhull; possible second supervisor Fran Pheasant-Kelly


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REPRESENTATIONS OF SUICIDE Deaths by suicide are high. Every forty seconds someone in the world dies by suicide, making up almost a million people a year; indeed, more people are likely to die by suicide than in wars. Moreover, these figures are more than likely to be underestimated by at the very least 10 per cent, reaching, perhaps, even 50 per cent! It is men that are particularly at risk of suicide. In the United Kingdom suicide is biggest killer of men under 50 and it is a very sobering fact that as many as 42 per cent of men considered taking their own life, as research from the organisation Campaign Against Living Miserably suggests. Applications are welcome for a study into representations of suicide in public, semi-public or ‘private’ discourses. This can be a ‘text-only’ investigation or one involving interviewing a particular group of informants. The work will be grounded in constructionist discourse analysis, with a particular focus on its critical discourse strand. Particularly welcome will be research focusing on ‘gendering’ of suicide representations. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisors: Darek Galasinski: possible second supervisor Fran Pheasant-Kelly

AUTHENTICITY AND SCREEN MEDIA Ideas of what might be considered authentic or inauthentic in screen-based representational art raises myriad questions. A medium’s ability to capture or encapsulate authenticity shapes creative and aesthetic endeavour, but feeds into deeper explorations of the identities of artists, the audiences / recipients of art objects, and the works themselves. Through such considerations, ideas of indexicality and uniqueness/novelty bleed through into problematizing authenticity, affecting how artworks communicate various meanings. From a number of socio-political standpoints, debates emerge around the poshification of artforms from pop music to theatrical drama and film, and the dislocation of spectator sports such as football from their proletarian roots. Each begins to articulate anxieties over the ways by which contemporary culture reflects and represents lives lived.


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Dialect and accent, visuality and aurality contribute to what society and individuals think of as authenticity, veracity, truthfulness, objectivity and subjectivity in screen media. The discipline of linguistics has embraced the study of dialect in popular media such as film, with traditional film studies, less noticeably so. What do factors of filmic mise-en-scène, such as location, landscape, costume, and sonic identifiers such as music and speech contribute to how nationality and regionality are represented through film, television and online moving images? Screen media’s depictions of the other introduce a concomitant problematic of how the Hegelian self is also represented, potentially striking discordant notes of inauthentic identity. How artworks contribute to a cultural archive of levels of falsity/genuineness and authenticity/inauthenticity similarly introduces difficulties in accurately recording historical changes and movements in society. What our culture uses, keeps and remembers becomes a storehouse of more or less fictional perceptions of experience. We warmly welcome applications that seek to look at this area – particularly in respect to social groups defined by gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Researching at the University of Wolverhampton would offer a unique opportunity for a comparative study: to consider the history of British or Western screen-based culture, and to extend theoretical / analytical models to international examples. Research can be archival, theoretical / historical, and survey-based. We welcome creative outputs as part of your research. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisor: Gavin Wilson

ALTERNATIVE AND RESISTANT LIFESTYLES IN THE 21ST CENTURY Are resistant lifestyles possible in the 21st century? The term ‘lifestyle’ has come to be used in a wide range of contexts to indicate a shift from identity rooted in culture, where traditions, customs and practices were passed on from one generation to the next, to a more ephemeral subjectivity associated with the rise of consumerism. No longer passed on down the generations, identity must now be constructed through choice in a constantly-changing marketplace. Although the term ‘lifestyle’ began to gain popular resonance as a result of the post-war


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(1950s) economic boom, it is ironic that resistance to this emerging consumerist society during the 1960s, frequently characterised as the ‘counter-culture’, also appropriated the term ‘lifestyle’. Although a variety of resistant sub-cultures emerged during the 1970s and 1980s they, like the counter-culture before them, frequently found their fashions, attitudes and values appropriated by the dominant, consumerist culture. The question we ask is whether or not it is possible any longer to adopt an alternative lifestyle that profoundly challenges the dominant consumerist culture. Themes that are raised by this broad topic might include, for example, consideration of binary oppositions such as hegemony and resistance, culture and lifestyle, and sharing and competition. We warmly welcome applications that propose to investigate the possibility of contemporary alternative lifestyles. This could include anything from the environmental movement, the anti-globalisation movement, new age communities, the sharing society, downsizing, or new sub-cultural identities. Proposals should aim to expand our understanding of the concept of lifestyle, and the ways in which groups, networks or movements might articulate opposition to dominant discourses. You will be fully supported in both your research and the dissemination of your research via conferences, publications and social media. Possible supervisor: Alan Apperley

HEALTH, FITNESS AND THE MEDIA Representations of fictional doctors and nurses have been a longstanding element of British and American television and cinema. However, over the past decade, other aspects of health, medicine and fitness have become increasingly media dependent, from the self-examination promoted in programmes such as Embarrassing Bodies to the self-monitoring engendered by tracking devices such as the Fitbit. We warmly welcome applications concerning the intersections of health, medicine and the media, particularly in relation to fictional representations of medicine, reality television centred on health, fitness and medicine, the influence of the media on health and fitness, and audience-focused analysis. Research can be archival, textual, theoretical/historical, or survey-based. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. (Possible Possible supervisors: Fran Pheasant-Kelly; possible second supervisor Bianca Fox


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CAPITALIST MODERNITY AND CONTEMPORANEITY: PHILOSOPHICAL AND INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES Since the mid-2000s to now, a number of scholars from various disciplines, areas and theoretical concerns attempted to theorise the concept of the ‘contemporary’ or ‘contemporaneity’. The concept had surfaced at the moment of waning of previous theoretical debates about postmodernity, and returning to the issues of modernity and its discontents, with the background of globalised neoliberal capitalism and its dangerous tendencies (political, social, economic, ecological). The concerns were quite diverse – continental philosophy’s reflections on temporality, untimeliness and the present (Giorgio Agamben); the endeavours to theorise the contours of current époque in its aesthetic and cultural dimensions and specific temporality (Boris Groys, Peter Osborn); a conceptualisation of the signifier ‘contemporary’ as related to art (Terry Smith et al). The concerns were refracted from various angles of specific ‘pre-contemporary’ legacies such as the postcolonial, the post-industrial, and the post-socialist (the latter is not as a passé but as regional, social and cultural singularities that emerged from socialist experiments of the 20th century). We welcome applications that seek to look at this interdisciplinary area – particularly in respect to various theories of modernity and contemporaneity articulated from the perspective of the post-WWII continental philosophy, Marxism and critical theory. They can include but are not limited to the following themes: 24/7 society and its discontents; philosophical analysis of accelerated temporalities; cultural logic(s) of latest capitalism; critical examination of emergent theories and research programmes. Researching at the University of Wolverhampton would offer unique opportunities, such as cohesion of research in post-WWII continental philosophy, critical theory, art theory and aesthetics, and strong international connections. Possible supervisor: Dr. Alexei Penzin


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FIGURES OF THE HUMAN AND POST-HUMAN IN CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY The theme has its background in major developments and themes in philosophical thinking about the “human animal” in 20th century’s currents of continental thought: “species being”; praxis, language and social relations; human/animal divide; subjectivity; desire and recognition; humanism and posthumanism; the post-WWII radical critique of humanism (Heidegger, Foucault, Deleuze); challenging the classical figures of the human from the viewpoint of critique of capitalist modernity, colonialism and patriarchy; the engaging with these philosophical debates in the view of contemporary or emergent phenomena such as artificial intelligence, biogenetic experiments, destructive impacts of the human presence on earth, and other topical issues. We welcome applications that seek to address recent debates about the figures of the human in contemporary continental thought, which rethink the classical topics and authors in philosophical anthropology (such as Giorgio Agamben, Paolo Virno, Etienne Balibar), or emphasise the importance of non-human or “posthuman” agents (Rosi Braidotti and other theorists). Researching at the University of Wolverhampton offers unique opportunities, such as cohesion of research in post-WWII continental philosophy, critical theory, aesthetics, and strong international connections. Possible supervisor: Dr. Alexei Penzin

THE LEGACIES OF THE 1917: MARXISM, PHILOSOPHY AND ARTISTIC AVANT-GARDES It may seem that the October Revolution of 1917, although being acknowledged as the key political event of the “short twentieth century,” has not created a consistent body of theory. This can be explained by several factors. First, because this theory was often articulated not in academic books but in literary works, artistic manifestos, and political essays, the considerable part of which have remained unknown. Second, in the post-WWII divisions created by the Cold War, this formation of thought was known as an exotic object, labelled as “Eastern” or “Soviet” Marxism. While “Western” Marxism was typically attributed an unconditional innovative value, the “Eastern” Marxism was seen under the umbrella of dogmatism or Stalinist ‘diamat’. The specificity and radical nature of this legacy have been vastly overlooked. The assumptions of the theory and cultural practices in the USSR and Eastern Block were not grounded on the post-Kantian idea of critique, as it was in


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“Western” Marxism. Its constituent and speculative character emerged on the basis of revolutionary rupture with old society – similar to the Soviet artistic avant-garde of the 1920s, it prepared a space for the constitution of a new world to come. We welcome applications that seek to look at this area – particularly in respect to the theories and practices of the artistic Avant-Gardes in Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; the specific theories and methodologies that emerged in the humanities of that time and geopolitical area; the ‘creative’ Soviet and Eastern European Marxism; the post-WWII cultures of socialism; the socialist versions of critique of colonialism and orientalism; the Soviet and the Eastern/Central European Structuralisms of the 1960-1970s; comparative studies of the legacies of socialism in different contexts, with an attempt to re-actualise these legacies in current international debates in critical humanities and in advanced artistic, cultural and activist practices. Research can be archival, historical and theoretical. Possible supervisor: Dr. Alexei Penzin

SOMATIC PRACTICE AND LABAN’S MOVEMENT ANALYSIS Somatic Practice – body therapies or movement (re)education – is fundamental to dance training in conservatoires and university programmes but the work of Rudolf Laban, which might be considered fundamental to the development of these practices, is largely forgotten or overlooked. Research in this area might include LMA applied to one or more specific practices, a consideration of the development of specific practices, influenced by Laban’s work, in a geographical location (eg USA or UK) or a socio/historical study of a specific practice. We warmly welcome applications that seek to look at this area. Research can be archival, theoretical/historical, practice research and/or survey-based. We welcome creative outputs as part of your research. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. Possible supervisor: Clare Lidbury


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DESIGNING FOR HEALTH Craft and design have the capability of stimulating our multiple senses through their visceral nature and through this to influence people’s emotions and social interactions, which can be further enhanced by the integration of digital technologies. Such hybrid practices have the potential to make a broad range of contributions to the health sciences. This PhD project is for a practice-led research enquiry into the use of hybrid craft and/or design to address issues of emotion regulation and management, and/or related issues, in relation to mental health. Emotions provide humans with a powerful means of negotiating the physical and social world, including the dynamic transactions of social relationships. Difficulties in recognising or managing emotions in one or more individuals can quickly lead to ineffective communication, conflict or relationship strain and breakdown. Emotion recognition and management can be a challenge in particular for people with identified conditions such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or anxiety disorders and anger management difficulties as well as people diagnosed with dementia. Design can offer novel ways of complementing existing therapeutic approaches by empowering people who suffer from these conditions. This project seeks to help people with these conditions to manage them through relevant design approaches and interventions. Possible supervisor: Kristina Niedderer

DESIGNING FOR BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE Design is ubiquitous – it surrounds us: everywhere and every day. Design also directs our actions as we use design through its inherent characteristics – its “affordances” (Norman 2002). Whether we like it or not, design influences our actions and behaviours. The practice of design for behaviour change, then, seeks to understand how design achieves these changes, and the ethical implication of directing change – who decides what is to change and how? –And where should such thinking be applied? This PhD proposal seeks to develop theoretical approaches to design for behaviour change, in terms of its application to discreet areas, and/or for the better understanding of its ethical imperatives and dilemmas. Possible supervisor: Kristina Niedderer


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DEVELOPING HYBRID CRAFT PRACTICES New technologies have a large impact on design in general, and on craft in particular, through extending them as well as through critical reflection on the novel opportunities they provide. However, too often, such opportunities are not recognised and novel technologies are simply used to replicate existing design approaches and thinking, merely to produce faster and cheaper. This PhD proposal seeks propositions and development of novel technical and conceptual approaches using digital technologies and/or hybrid craft approaches to explore latent opportunities that lead to new conceptual thinking and understanding. Possible supervisor: Kristina Niedderer

POLITICAL ECONOMY AND CULTURAL THEORY TODAY What distinguished progressive cultural theory from the 1950s was the notion that the working class and its leadership, in alliance with intellectuals, could participate in and shape an alternate culture very different to that of post-war mass culture. In broad outline this had a huge influence on the new Anglo-American cultural studies and idea of the remaking of the popular in the 1960s and 1970s (Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall and the Birmingham Centre for Cultural Studies, Fredric Jameson). Today, all this has largely gone, even that ‘political unconscious’ reader-reception model of cultural theory, that Jameson eventually became attached to, that trawled mass culture for utopian aporias and glitches. In its place is a kind of pitiless affirmationism (or accelerationism), in which the intersection between technological change, pleasure and network participation are hymned to the heavens. What is left for cultural theory to do, in the wake of this, when as Jameson said recently, that people on the whole, do not have any problems with current arrangements: the new network culture “does not seem to be a particularly painful or stressful project”? Indeed, recent (powerful) critiques of these arrangements (Jonathan Crary, Frédéric Lordon, Bernard Stiegler) just bounce off these sentiments. How then does cultural theory proceed under these conditions? Retreat? Negotiate? Fantasize? Or work through and defend those (rare) instances where other ways of doing and being are given symbolic form? The latter, of course leaves cultural theory with ‘little’ to work with, so to speak, yet, it in these low key and minoritarian reflexes new thinking will be done. In this respect how might fare under these conditions? How might cultural theory produce new emancipatory attachments and affects? Possible supervisor: John Roberts


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THE AVANT-GARDE AND TIME The avant-garde today is more than a space for the continuing extension of art into the ‘expanded field’ and post-conceptual modes of practice; it is, rather, the renewed site of the debate on capitalist temporality and reproduction, history and time. Indeed, it is the double articulated character of the avant-garde – on the one hand its critical function as that which presses beyond or in advance of the present, and, on the other, its role as the revolutionary critic of the modernizing present and modernity – that makes it crucial to the debate on art, emancipation and temporality today. How might a defense of the avant-garde in art, enables another kind of thinking on modernity, one not beholden to the abstract universality and temporal compression of the money-form, and, therefore, one not subordinate to the unilinearity of capitalist developmentalism? Possible supervisor: John Roberts

PERFECTIONISM AND SOCIAL THEORY The widespread and varied political and cultural attacks on the philosophical legacy of ‘perfectionism’ from both the left and right as authoritarian is one of the key moves of the current counter-enlightenment global settlement. This has produced a conservative universalism of human and social limits. As a result a viable politics is seen as the work of a tolerable and stable imperfectability, whether from a Rawlsian or quasi-Nietzschian position. But in what ways are these limittheories narrowly conceived from the outset, given their conscious or unconscious reliance on quasi-religious notions of Enlightenment hubris? How might ‘perfectionism’ (as a historic claim on the development of human capacities), reground a new emancipatory social theory? Possible supervisor: John Roberts


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Cross-Faculty Projects

FACULTIES OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AND ARTS

THE 1967–1969 SIKH BUS DRIVERS’ DISPUTE IN WOLVERHAMPTON This research would build on existing expertise in FoSS and the Faculty of Arts in particular that of Richard Hawkins and Opinderjit Takhar. This project is partly inspired by Roger Seifert and Andrew Hambler’s 2016 article in Historical Studies in Industrial Relations. When a Sikh bus driver working for Wolverhampton Borough Council in 1967 wore a turban and beard to work for the first time he was sent home for breaching the existing dress code. The Sikh municipal workers pursued their demands through pressure-group politics after being marginalized by their union. It ended in 1969 with a change in the employer and the employment regulations, and subsequent changes to the law. This landmark case influenced a number of subsequent law cases involving the Sikh community. The project would adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to analyse the history and long term significance of the dispute drawing upon history, religion, law, social policy and business studies. The research would include oral history interviews. Dr. Takhar is an active member of the local Sikh community and her contacts include the bus driver (now retired) who was sent home in 1967. The project will also draw upon interviews with the Sikh community recorded by the university in 2000 as part of the Black and Ethnic Minority Experience project. This project has the added value of building bridges with an important target demographic for future student applications. It demonstrates the importance given to inclusivity in the research supported by the university. Richard Hawkins would be a possible director of studies. He has experience supervising a related doctorate and plenty of spare capacity. Opinderjit Takhar would be the preferred second supervisor. This would help address the gender imbalance in current supervisory capacity as well helping to ensure that BME colleagues are an integral part of the next generation of doctoral supervisors.


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RELIGION AND PUBLIC DISCOURSE IN CONTEMPORARY BRITAIN Due to the increase in religious pluralism highlighted by the 2011 National Census which showed that every minority religious community across England and Wales has grown, the topic of religion and public discourse is of paramount importance in contemporary British society. The relationship between morality within religious and secular traditions and the process of socialisation have become important considerations within British Parliament. This appears to undermine the common sociological argument that British society has undergone a process of structural differentiation as it suggests that religion (and faith/belief) occupy discourse in numerous public sectors, despite theories around secularisation and a separation of religion and the state. Therefore, religion and faith occupy an important space in the public sphere. The relationship between religion, politics, British legislation, mental health, community cohesion and discrimination add important perspectives to current debates about the place and role of religion and religious communities within contemporary British society. More recently, for example, the issue of caste within the British South Asian community has once again come to the surface with the Government’s current consultation on whether caste discrimination should be added to the Equality Act 2010. We warmly welcome applications that seek to look at this area – particularly in respect to the interaction between religious groups and British Parliament and legislation. Researching at the University of Wolverhampton would offer a unique opportunity for a comparative study: to consider the history between Religious communities and British Government and to extend theoretical / analytical models to international examples. Research can be archival, theoretical/historical, and survey-based. We welcome creative outputs as part of your research. We offer support for the dissemination of your research, via conferences, blogs and social media, and help with publication writing and developing a strong online profile for yourself and your work. As highlighted by recent reports such as the Casey Review 2016 and UK Sikh Survey 2016, due to factors such as small numbers and a lack of understanding of highly important contemporary issues by key policy makers, minority religious communities feel that their voices are severely restricted or perhaps even rendered silent in these areas. Possible supervisors: Opinderjit Takhar/George Kassimeris


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Find out more Contact: Ben Halligan Director of the Doctoral College Email: B.Halligan@wlv.ac.uk /wlv_doctoralcol /wlvdoctoralcol ER709

Faculty of arts phd opportunities  
Faculty of arts phd opportunities