Kimposium! A symposium about all things Kardashian

Posted on Oct 27, 2015

From Dr Meredith Jones, Brunel University

Kimposium! A symposium about all things Kardashian

Darcey Bella Arnold
BREAK THE INTERNET – Darcey Bella Arnold – 18K Gold plated 3D printed brass, 100 x 60mm 2015

Thursday 26th November

9am – 6pm

Darwin Room, Brunel University London

Book your place:

The Kardashian/Jenner/West clan is increasingly wealthy and famous, and its members have come to occupy powerful social and cultural positions.

Strikingly, Kim Kardashian-West’s husband, rapper Kanye West, has announced he will run for US President in 2020. Utterly contemporary, the sisters and their mother Kris are queens of social media.

Old public/private divides are abandoned as they share their lives via television, Instagram and Twitter. From family arguments to giving birth to divorcing to coming out as Trans, it seems that nothing this family does is private.

The purpose of this symposium is to examine the Kardashians as powerful popular culture phenomena. Do they represent the best or the worst of a mediascape that is dominated by 140 character tweets and selfies? What does our fascination with them tell us about ourselves, our desires, and our values?

Here’s a taste of what you can look forward to:

9.00-9.20 Welcome Address – Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor
9.20-10.10 Keynote Address, ‘Glamour Labour’ On the Importance of Being Kardashian: Glamour Labour in the Age of the Blink, Elizabeth Wissinger, Associate Professor of Master’s Fashion Studies and undergraduate Sociology, City University of New York Graduate Center and BMCC
10.10-10.20 Morning tea
10.20-11.30 Session One: Reality Television—Life, Death, and Genre
‘Creating Reality TV – The Programme Maker Viewpoint’, Lucy Brown, University of Greenwich, and Lyndsay Duthie, University of Hertfordshire
‘ “So no-one can steal our bodies ever”: Death Comes to the Kardashians’, Amy Mackelden, pop culture blogger, and Dr Dylan Jaggard, independent scholar
‘The Legitimization of Kim Kardashian’, Aisling O’Connor, fashion and culture writer
11.30-12.30 Session Two: Photography, Images and the Digital
‘Kim Kardashian as the embodiment of the networked-image’, Davide di Teodoro, Central St Martins
‘Dear Mr. Benjamin: Understanding Digital Images, Multiple Reproductions, and Kim Kardashian West’, Jessica Hennenfent, University of Georgia
12.30-1.30 Lunch
1.30-2.40 Session Three: Trauma and Safety
‘Trauma and the Kardashians—multimedia presentation’, Elizabeth Grammaticas, interdisciplinary artist and curator
‘Doing Feminism; Fourth Wave, Past Post-Feminism and Twitter Terf Wars’, Emilie Lawrence, IOE, University College London
‘She’s Got the Look: Caitlyn Jenner and Celebrity (in) Transition’, Lazlo Pearlman, Northumbria University
2.40-3.40 Session Four: Postfeminisms and Spectacular Femininities
Keeping up, from Lagos Simidele Dosekun, London School of Economics

‘Kardashian Komplicity; Beauty Work in Postfeminist Neoliberal Times’, Giuliana Monteverde, University of Ulster

3.40-3.50 Afternoon tea
3.50-5.00 Session Five: Fatness, Thinness, and Race
‘The Reality and Unreality of the Kardashian Self-Image’ Aisling O’Connor, fashion and culture writer
‘Colour and Curves: “This big bum thing has taken over the world”.’, Katherine Appleford and Cecilia Cappel, Kingston University London
‘ “The Jenner genes made her tall, thin and pleasant”: Kardashians, Jenners, and the intersectional politics of thinness’ Gemma Cobb, University of Sussex
5.00-6.00 Plenary Address Professor Paula-Irene Villa, Chair in Gender Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich

“Love them or hate them, the Kardashians are arguably the USA’s new ‘royal’ family, their every move scrutinised. But unlike the British Royals these people invite the public in to observe their everyday lives. In the course of doing this they have redefined reality television and had profound social impacts: Notably, Kim is at the forefront of an international change to what an ‘ideal’ woman’s body is, and Cate has brought trans into the mainstream like nobody before her.”

Dr Meredith Jones, Brunel University London

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