4th Annual Media Symposium

PhD student Billie Matthews reports on our annual student-led symposium!

On the 8th of May 2024, the fourth Media Symposium at Swansea University was held, organised by research students Beth Evans, Olivia Noden and Wyl Jones.

The Media Symposium is a highlight of the academic year for Media PhD students as it provides a fantastic opportunity for research students to present their projects, developments and recent findings to an audience including their own peers and supervisors.

This allows students to develop both their presentation and research skills, acting as a preparatory session on how to present at conferences. It’s also a great opportunity for students to engage with each other, with each other’s supervisors, and to learn from each other’s research.

Alongside several brilliant presentations from current PhD students, the symposium featured a fantastic keynote presentation from Dr Sarah Williams, who recently graduated from our own department here at Swansea University.

PhD students L-R: Beth Evans, Wyl Jones, Olivia Noden

The Symposium was split into three themed sections, each showcasing different research topics. The first theme, Media Framing, featured three outstanding presentations by current PhD students Olivia Noden, Wyl Jones and Nuha Makrash.

Olivia Noden kicked things off with a hugely insightful overview of her research project, ‘Exploring the Links Between Gender and Female Terrorists Within UK Mass Media’. 

Olivia gave a comprehensive overview of pre-existing literature related to women and terrorism, explained how and why content analysis and critical discourse analysis was used, and reflected on her findings of how gendered language is often seen to be at the forefront of newspaper headlines in this context.

Olivia presenting her PhD work!

Next, Wyl Jones presented his research project: ‘Covering the Difference: How UK Sports Journalism Reports the Others’.

His insightful presentation explained the ways in which marginalised groups in professional sports are often portrayed in the media. Wyl said,

Having been in the audience at last year’s symposium, I was looking forward to getting the chance to present my work in a forum such as this, especially as it was something I’ve never done before. I greatly enjoyed the experience, as both the speakers and audience members created a pleasant and welcoming environment. I found it very interesting hearing about other postgraduate students’ research and experiences, especially as we were all at different stages in our PhD’s.

Wyl, Second year PhD student.
Wyl sharing his PhD plans!

Following Wyl, Nuha Makrash presented a fascinating overview of her research project, ‘The Representation of Saudi Arabia’s Social History in British News Media’.

Nuha’s research aims to fill an existing gap in the available research on the image of Saudi Arabia in British newspapers.

Explaining how and why several media outlets share a strong focus on human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, Nuha successfully highlighted the key findings of her research and was able to demonstrate how her research questions will be answered as she nears the end of her project.

Following a short break, we moved onto the second section of the symposium, focusing on the theme of Film and Television. This included two students from our PhD cohort in the Media department, Beth Evans and Nisha Edmunds.

Beth Evans kicked this side of the event off with a great presentation on her project, ‘“I Didn’t Break the World… But I Am Going to Fix It.”: How She-Ra Challenges Patriarchal Ideology Within Mainstream American Episodic Animation Through the Amazon Warrior Archetype’.

This was a great opportunity for those of us in the audience to learn more about female representation within episodic animation.

Beth’s work showed how it will fill a gap within research of understanding how female-identifying characters are portrayed within episodic animation.

Beth in action!

The following presentation was given by Nisha Edmunds, a fairly new member to our cohort! Nisha joined the Media department as a PhD student in January of this year, so is still at the beginning of her research project.

However, that didn’t stop her from providing us with a fantastic presentation that really emphasised her passion and interest in her project ‘Transnational Chinese Masculinities: Consumerism and Commercialisation in ‘The Untamed’’.

Nisha clearly outlined the aims and objectives of her research, including to explore how danmei is breaking structural silence and establishing itself within China’s public discourse.

Nisha discusses her PhD plans!

After another short break, we moved to the final theme of the Symposium: Societal Representations and Digital Media. First to present was Francesca Richards, who gave an excellent and passionate presentation on her project titled ‘Queer Celebration or Queer Fear: A Comparative Analysis of Queer Representation in Video Games’. Reflecting on the experience of presenting for the first time as a research student, Franchesca said,

The symposium was truly eye-opening. Hearing others’ research and feeling their passion was incredibly inspiring. Having the opportunity to present my biggest passion was both freeing and empowering. Personally, I felt compelled to participate because while my research is niche, it is an incredibly important field, and personal to me in my fight for inclusivity in video games,  and I needed a safe space to share and discuss my findings. The symposium provided that space, allowing me to communicate my passion and gain new ideas from the audience and other presenters.

Chesca, MA by Research.
Chesca presents her work!

The last current research student to present was myself, Billie Matthews. I really enjoyed the Symposium and, having initially felt a little nervous to present my project as I am still in the early stages, felt it was a great space for students and supervisors to encourage and support each other.

I presented my research project titled ‘An Investigation into the Impacts of Social Media and Surveillance Capitalism on Societal Behaviour in the Digital Age’, which aims to investigate how surveillance capitalism affects societal behaviour in the UK.

Throughout the presentation, I explained how the research overall aims to understand the ways in which public behaviours and attitudes towards social infrastructures have been impacted by digital and social media. I found it particularly useful to have good, constructive feedback that will undoubtedly help me on my next steps in my PhD journey.

Billie discusses her work!

To complete the Symposium, recent graduate of the Media department Dr. Sarah Williams presented as our keynote speaker. Dr. Sarah presented ‘Challenging the Notion of the Digital Native’, where she explained what her research project was about, what it entailed in terms of researching, and highlighted her findings.

Dr. Sarah is working on projects concerning the Welsh Government regarding education and digital media.

Dr Sarah Williams keynote!

It was a truly eye-opening overview of the research exploring how the current education surrounding digital media in Wales impacts attitudes and behaviours towards the subject across Wales. Thank you for the brilliant talk, Sarah!