Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


PhD news: summer 2018

August 16th, 2018

The School of Media and Communication congratulates PhD candidates who have successfully passed their vivas in the past few months, with new graduates taking up positions both in Leeds and further afield.

Charlotte Elliott-Harvey has been awarded a PhD for her thesis on ‘Free speech, tolerance, offence and diversity: A comparative study of France and Denmark using the cases of Dieudonné and Yahya Hassan’. The study investigates changing conceptions of freedom of speech in the context of current media controversies surrounding creative speech acts (comedy, poetry). 

Her supervisors were Professor Katrin Voltmer and Dr Katy Parry. The thesis was examined by Dr Giles Moss and Professor Raymond Kuhn (Queen Mary University of London). Charlotte now works as a Postdoctoral Research Associate on an AHRC-funded project, Defining freedom of the press: A cross national examination of press ethics and regulation, at the University of Sheffield.

Carolyn Jackson-Brown has been awarded a PhD for her thesis entitled ‘Meeting the Superhumans: Channel Four, Disability and the 2012 Paralympic Games’. The case-study investigates meaning-making and chronicles a major intervention, by a media organisation with a unique funding mechanism, to change perceptions in society and bring a marginalised group into the mainstream.

Focusing on how representations were influenced at the point of encoding, this media production study contributes to discussions within the creativity and commerce debate, illuminating questions about the increasingly editorial role of marketing as well as highlighting the continuing value of public service broadcasting structures. By interviewing key people involved in the television production process, and accessing some of their internal documentation, Carolyn’s doctoral research sheds light on how meanings about disability were constructed and delivered, from the top down and across the creative workflow, drawing on perspectives from both cultural studies and political economy.

Her supervisors were Professor Bethany Klein and Dr Nancy Thumim, and the examiners were Dr Anna Zoellner and Dr Dan Jackson (Bournemouth University). Both examiners were very impressed by Carolyn’s work. As the external examiner emphasised: ‘it is a wonderful piece of work and immediately places Carolyn as a scholar of real merit in the interconnected fields of media production, disability studies and mediated sport. It really is a unique study – and is an important addition to the literature in this under-researched field.’ Carolyn now has a full-time, permanent lectureship at Leeds Trinity University.

Ellis Jones has been awarded a PhD for his thesis on ‘Platform DIY: Examining the impact of social media on cultural resistance in contemporary DIY music’.

The thesis explored what happens to DIY music’s capacity to offer cultural resistance when it is increasingly normalised by, and captured within, ‘platform capitalism’. It is as much a contribution to social media studies as to music studies.

His supervisors were Professor David Hesmondhalgh and Dr Leslie Meier. The examiners were Professor Nick Prior (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Bethany Klein.

Ellis is taking up a post-doctoral position at the University of Oslo on a funded project on Mashup Music, Copyright, and Platform Regulation.

Alessandro Martinisi has been awarded a PhD for his thesis on ‘The Usage of Statistics in the Articulation of Information Quality in News Reporting’. His supervisors were Dr Jairo Lugo-Ocando and Dr Julie Firmstone. The examiners were Dr Todd Graham, Dr Eddy Borges-Rey (University of Stirling) and Simon Popple.

His work particularly highlights the dichotomy between the normative and professional aspirations of journalism, whereby statistics help support the quality of news, and there is a desire to strengthen the ability of storytellers (journalists) through use of numbers. The research discovered tensions and issues that were key factors in the articulation of quality in quantitative information.

Alessandro also tries to explore journalism practice through the lenses of philosophy and in particular the Philosophy of Information as theorised by Professor Luciano Floridi. The examiners were impressed by Alessandro’s work because his thesis makes a robust and highly original contribution to the existing debates on data-driven news reporting. His work has been nominated for an excellence award.

At the moment Alessandro works as a Lecturer in Research Methods at Breda University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands.

Andreas Rauh has been awarded a PhD for his thesis on ‘Under-the-Radar’ Electronic Dance Musicians: Opportunities and Challenges with Digital Communication Technologies’.

The thesis investigated grassroots cultural production by focusing on how EDM musicians use digital technologies to learn, make, play, and circulate music. The methods used brought together micro sociological analysis of musicians’ practices and experiences with a macro perspective that took into account structural and institutional aspects/elements shaping contemporary cultural production.

The research was undertaken primarily in Leeds and Ljubljana, as well as online worlds. The thesis highlighted the benefits of digital technologies for making and circulating music (creative expression, self-realisation, lower-entry levels), while also acknowledging many challenges serious musicians face (building a career, highly competitive environment, promotional incentives, structural inequalities, balancing work/life/music).

His supervisors were Professor David Hesmondhalgh and Professor Bethany Klein. The examiners were Dr Leslie Meier and Dr Daniel Ashton (University of Southampton).

Lone Sorensen has been awarded a PhD for her thesis on ‘Populist Communication in Comparative Perspective: Ideology, Performance, Mediation’. By taking a communication approach to populism, the thesis makes a significant conceptual contribution to the current debate on populist politics. The empirical investigation compares populist communication in an established (UK) and an emerging (South Africa) democracy.

Lone’s thesis reconceptualises populism as a communicative process by querying how populist ideology manifests itself performatively. As exemplary manifestations of populist ideology, it engages with populist disruptive performances through an interpretive analysis of a variety of media texts relating to such events, from live performances to tweets. The research helps us to explain how populist communicative practices emerge from but also impact upon a given democratic environment and its media landscape. It thereby enables an understanding of the profound implications of mediated populism for representative democracy in both transitional and established democracies around the globe.

Her supervisors were Professor Katrin Voltmer and Dr Katy Parry. The examiners were Professor John Downey (Loughborough University) and Professor Stephen Coleman. Lone is taking on a post as Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Huddersfield from 1 September 2018.


Sarah Weston has been awarded a PhD for her thesis ‘Political Voice as Embodied Performance: young women, politics and engagement’. Conducting practice-led research, her research investigated the relationship between practices of voice training and the concept of political voice with groups of young women in the north of England.

Drawing primarily on Bourdieu’s habitus, Sarah’s research explored whether voice training could be a practice of political intervention through making visible how social and culture structures mark the voice and furthermore offer a system to resist or overcome these marks. Through this project, she proposes an alternative definition of political voice as something material rather than symbolic, arguing that political intervention should also consider the ways in which voices are repressed physiologically rather than just in terms of representation.

Her supervisors were Professor Stephen Coleman and Professor Jane Plastow, and her examiners were Dr Katy Parry and Dr Maggie Inchley (Queen Mary University of London). Sarah will begin work as a Lecturer at the School of Media and Communication in September.

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