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Dr Kate McNicholas Smith

Formerly at Lancaster University

Professional Role

Lecturer in Gender, Media and Cultural Studies

Research overview

Feminsim; Queer; Gender; Sexuality; LGBT; Media; Television; Femininity; Digital Media; Social Media; Bodies; Fandom; Publics and Counterpublics; Film; Popular Culture; Subjectivity; Inequality; Marginality.

Research Interests

My research is engaged with the study of popular culture and the mediation of social norms and subjectivities. I am particularly concerned with the production of inequalities and exclusions, in particular in relation to gender and sexuality. My work is located at an intersection of feminist theory, queer theory, media and cultural studies and sociology; drawing out mixed methods and intersectional analyses of media cultures. I am also interested in new media technologies and the ways in which media platforms are utilised by audiences in dynamic, resistant and creative ways.

My current research focuses on LGBT visibility, in particular the changing representations of lesbian characters on television and in wider media culture.

Current Research

My current research is concerned with examining lesbian visibility on television and within wider media cultures. Tracking representational shifts from the 1990s to the present day, I argue that increased visibility has mobilised new lesbian figures. These new lesbian figures function in multiple ways; producing new queer markets, mediating social and political change and offering audiences new forms of engagement and recognition. My research maps these engagements, exploring the ways in which these new queer visibility might work to challenge, disrupt, reorganise and maintain social norms and inequalities. Critical to this, however, are the ways in which fans and audiences negotiate, struggle over, mobilise and extend these televisual lesbian figures and narratives through the creation of their own media texts, objects and practices.  Centrally, I argue that new lesbian visibility offers new frames of recognition and identification that both open up and foreclose possibilities of social change; new lesbian figures function both to reject and reproduce forms of marginality and exclusion. In examining these tensions my research develops an account of a new sexual politics in media culture, defined through a contradictory post-queer sensibility.

Current Teaching

MCS101 Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies (course convenor)

MCS200 Critical Cultural Theory

MCS226 Gender and Media

SOCL 230 Bodies in Society

SOCL314 Feminism and Social Change

GWS403 Feminist Media and Cultural Studies

GWS101 'Sexualities' & 'Pop Culture and Sexualisation'


BA Hons Drama and Theatre Studies. Royal Holloway, University of London 2006

MA Women's Studies and English, Lancaster Univeristy 2008

MA Sociological Research, Lancaster Univeristy 2010

PhD Sociology 'Lesbians on TV: The Intimate Publics of New Queer Visibility', Lancaster University 2014. Supervised By: Imogen Tyler and Celia Roberts

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