Reality TV and Gender Politics August 25 - 27, 2011 [Abstracts due May 1]

full name / name of organization: 
School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin

From Irish reality TV shows such as Fade Street and Operation Transformation, to global franchises such as Big Brother and Next Top Model, reality TV occupies an increasingly visible place in contemporary transatlantic programming. It has also become a hotly contested site within popular cultural discourses—revealing clues to our collective desires, fears, and anxieties. In its explication of modern social identities, reality TV has shown itself to be crucially dependent on notions of gender, seeking to expose the limits of gendered identity and complicating the borders between the 'real' and 'constructed' self, both on screen and off. Ultimately, this conference aims to interrogate the gendered politics of reality television, and how they intersect with notions of sexuality, race, class, citizenship, and commodification.
We invite papers on any aspect of gender and reality TV, including the following topics:

• How reality TV produces and/or challenges essentialized gender roles
• Body modification and gendered identity in reality TV
• Queerness and reality TV
• The gendering of domestic labour in reality TV
• Gender, fame, and celebrity in reality TV
• The cultural positioning and gendered implications of reality TV as banal or 'trashy'
• Gendered voices of authority in reality TV (e.g., the gay male fashion expert in Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or the female domestic disciplinarian in Supernanny)
• Hyper-masculinity in reality TV, including shows about law & order (e.g., Border Patrol), macho labour (e.g., Ice Road Truckers), and male adventure (e.g., Born Survivor)
• Hyper-femininity in reality TV, including shows about fashion (e.g., Paisean Faisean), careers (e.g., The Hills), and dating (e.g., Joe Millionaire and Take Me Out)
• The gendering of reality TV channels (e.g., Discovery Channel versus Living TV)
• Gender and genre-mixing in reality TV (e.g., My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding)
• The converging politics of gender, sexuality, race, class, and/or generation in reality TV
• The gendered history, production, and/or reception of reality TV

Plenary Speaker: Brenda Weber, Indiana University

Conference organised by Dr Kirsten Pike, Dr Emma Radley, Caitlin Lewis and Sinead Moloney, UCD School of English, Drama and Film.

Please submit a 300-word abstract & short biographical note to
by May 1, 2011. Successful applicants will be notified by May 15, 2011.