Slightly last minute here, but if anyone is interested in hearing about an alternative assessment technique in media/urban studies, I have just the thing for you. Tomorrow (1 March 2017) I will be giving a 4pm talk at Birkbeck’s Centre for Transformative Practice in Learning and Teaching, around the ‘urban media inventory’ assessment that I have been developing in recent years, as part of my module The Mediated City.

The talk will have a little bit of conceptual backdrop (though I will hopefully talk about this aspect more at the RGS-IBG in August, pending acceptance). Largely, though, it will be more practical, on-the-ground reflections about trying to teach and assess media studies in a slightly more, well, geographical way.

The abstract for the talk is below. If you’d like to come, you should register at the Eventbrite page for the seminar.

Thinking Media through the City
Dr Scott Rodgers, Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck

This seminar offers some reflections on The Mediated City, an undergraduate module that encourages students to think about ‘media’ through their experiences of urban environments and urban living. The main focus of the seminar will be an alternative assessment which has been under development in recent years. Throughout the module, students build a blog-based compilation of ‘urban media’ examples that include text, photos, audio, video, maps and other elements. Particularly when they make use of mobile media technologies and techniques, students are effectively being asked to gather up the city and bring it back into the class setting for discussion and elaboration. We will consider the potentials and challenges of this learning method and assessment, and its connections with recent debates that suggest pedagogy should move both beyond the classroom setting and beyond representational knowledge narrowly conceived.


New academic posts announced at Birkbeck

by Scott Rodgers on February 2, 2017

Today a series of new academic posts at Birkbeck have been advertised, on the Birkbeck jobs website (which is due for an upgrade, don’t be put off!) and elsewhere, such as the Times Higher Education website.

These look to be a great set of positions, many focusing on globalisation and the transnational, very apropos of our contemporary moment, and well-attuned to Birkbeck’s very diverse student body.

I’m particularly excited of course, about the two new positions in my own Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies: a Lecturer in Transnational Media and Culture; and a Professor/Chair in Digital Media and Screen Studies.

The posts which may interest readers of this blog are:

Lecturer A in Computer Science

Lecturer A/B in Geography

Lecturer A/B in Sociolinguistics

Lecturer in Theatre and Performance

Lecturer in Transnational Literatures and Migration Cultures

Lecturer in Transnational Media and Culture

Professor/Chair in Digital Media and Screen Studies


untitled-1In just a few weeks I will be presenting a paper at what looks like a very interesting symposium here at Birkbeck considering the increasingly important relationships between politicians and performance. I have pasted the programme, as well as my own abstract, below. Many of the other contributors will be drawing centrally on practices and concepts coming out of theatre and performance studies. I’ll probably be coming a little out of left field in this regard. But hopefully my discussion of Rob Ford’s unusual mayoralty as a kind of embodied interference within the localized media universe of Toronto city politics which strike a chord and provoke some interesting discussion. Anyway, I’m paired with another paper looking (in part) at Justin Trudeau, so, should be fun!

If you’d like to register to attend, visit the symposium’s Eventbrite page.

Politicians & Other Performers

Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre
G10 Studio, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H OPD

Friday 20 January 2017


9.15-9.30: Welcome (coffee provided)

9.30-10.15: Voice Works
Mending Speech: Glenda Jackson on and off script, Emma Bennett and Ella Finer
‘Scotland’s Siren: “The Most Dangerous Woman in Politics”?, Maggie Inchley

10.15-11.15: Theatrical Turns
Turn! Turn! Turn!, Rachel Cockburn
Just Theatre? Rethinking the Significance of Politicians’ Performances in Representative Democracy, Julia Peetz
Maryam Rajavi: Propaganda Queen and/or President in Waiting?, Alinah Azadeh

11.15-12.00: Emoting Masculinities
‘The swaggerers were in the ascendency’: performative masculinity as political strategy in post-conflict Northern Ireland, Alexander Coupe
Boys Don’t Cry, Mark Blacklock

12.00-1.00: Lunch (not provided)

1.00-1.45: Conflicting Canadians
Anatomy of a ‘babyface’: the body performances of Justin Trudeau and Sami Zayn, Broderick V. Chow
‘Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor’: The performative disruptions of Rob Ford, Scott Rodgers

1.45 – 2.30: Trickle Down Trump
Jonathan Lethem, Amnesia Moon and Donald Trump, Joe Brooker
Facing Reality: Mike Daisey’s The Trump Card, Louise Owen

2.45-4.45: Screening, Frost/Nixon (Birkbeck Cinema)

‘Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor’: The performative disruptions of Rob Ford
Scott Rodgers

In 2013, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford ascended to international notoriety, after video footage of him smoking crack cocaine was shown to celebrity website Gawker and the Toronto Star. From then onward, global news media presented a remarkable spectacle: stereotypically polite and boring Canada having an abrasive, clumsy ‘crack-smoking mayor’ who was frequently drunk in public and stubbornly against resigning. Like many big city mayors, Rob Ford had emerged as the personification of his city, though for all the wrong reasons. In this paper, I focus less on the international stage of Rob Ford’s performative disruptions, but instead the interference he embodied for the more localized media universe of Toronto city politics. This was a universe Ford sought to bypass. Along with his brother, he preferred to address his base via a long running talk radio show. He preferred, too, to get out of City Hall. He was renown for his visits to Toronto’s low-income housing estates, where he was seen to be at ease: posing for photos, talking sport, calling people ‘brother’ and so on. Above all, however, I suggest that the Ford saga was generated through the seemingly unrelenting stream of shocking events, transgressive behaviour and everyday imaging mediated via mobile social media and related practices of witnessing.


Bloomsbury’s Gordon Square: Workplace becomes media production space

December 20, 2016

[Note: this post has been edited to remove details of the specific production in question. I’m being cautious as a colleague reminded me of a non-disclosure agreement to which I am indirectly a party. However I have decided not to remove the entire post, since the rest pertains to observations made in outdoor public space, […]

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It’s a wrap: Mediapolis roundtable on the urban in media theory

December 13, 2016

Just a quick note to say that the roundtable on ‘The Urban as Emergent Key Concept for Media Theory’ in Mediapolis: A Journal of Cities and Culture has reached it’s conclusion. Now available are opening essays and responses from Zlatan Krajina, André Jansson, Myria Georgiou, Giorgia Aiello and me. Here’s an excerpt from my concluding […]

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Birkbeck announces Stuart Hall PhD scholarship

November 25, 2016

This has caught me by surprise, but I’ve just learned that my institution Birkbeck is offering a Stuart Hall PhD Scholarship for 2017-18, in partnership with the Stuart Hall Foundation. Some great news, making me proud to work at the institution (as, by the way, did the College’s recently-announced Bridges to Study programme for asylum […]

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The urban as emergent key concept for media theory: Mediapolis roundtable

November 16, 2016

Today a roundtable I have edited on ‘The Urban as Emergent Key Concept for Media Theory’ has been published online in Mediapolis: A Journal of Cities and Culture. This roundtable was initially spawned from a session at ICA 2016 in Fukuoka, Japan. In its journal form, it brings together contributions from five scholars (Zlatan Krajina, […]

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A wee little ethnography of ICA 2016

September 12, 2016

I’ve gone and done something I always wanted to do: write an ethnography of a conference; to be precise, one of the 2016 ICA conference in Fukuoka, Japan. Now, straight away, the proviso I’d make is that I’ve written one that is quite short and modest (UPDATE: and certainly it doesn’t merit the title of […]

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Second Mediapolis essay: ‘Small-gauge as remediating and metamedial’

July 7, 2016

My second essay within the special Mediapolis roundtable on ‘small-gauge’ scholarship, which has been running over the past few weeks, has now been published. It’s been a really interesting exchange which tries to confront and tease out the emergent notion of small-gauge scholarship, a term contained in the founding mission statement of the journal. If […]

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New Mediapolis essay: ‘Small-gauge as environmental and ordinary’

June 22, 2016

Over at the Mediapolis journal, I have published a short essay as part of a roundtable on the emergent notion of ‘small-gauge’ scholarship. The notion of small-gauge was alluded to in the founding mission statement of this new and experimental journal, and has since generated some substantial interest and debates. This roundtable tries to tackle […]

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