Hello..I guess..October 28, 2022
It has been a while since I embarked upon something that has
got me excited in a while. The past few years post MA and not shortly followed by
a global pandemic meant that photographic practice and even the engagement in
research or the industry took a huge back seat in my life. I must admit guilt
was an overpowering factor…How could I spend all this time working so hard to
train as a lecturer to have the pleasure of inspiring others (just like my
lecturers did with me) to just go back to working a normal job? Well guess what?
it was the best thing I ever did. I have got to be thankful I was able to financially
support myself easily in taking some time at home. My mental health ended in a sorry
situation last year and although the intention to embark the PhD was last year,
I am ever thankful for my family and friends for keeping me supported in a time
I shut down.
Here we are it is the end of October 2022 and I have just
returned to Manchester Metropolitan University to embark on my practice-based PhD.
What this blog will intend to do is give me the space and fraction to discuss
the matters that arise in a controlled space, basically a space to argue with
myself. I intend to use this space to discuss the associations surrounding the
sexualisation of female adolescence that will contribute towards my PhD thesis
and creating a practice with this research as its praxis.
Now to put the PhD into context; the intention of this PhD will be to
compare common tropes that connect the ‘girl’ in the Victorian photographic
archive to the millennial girl in popular media. Questions surrounding this are
to include - What are the consequences for the forms of partialities placed on girls
through these discourses? How have these discourses been contested before? How
do they interpolate and in what way? How are girls sexualised differently
through them? And how are they implicated in the process by which modern
notions of personhood and individuality began to be understood as forms of
identification culturally available to and socially desirable? The aim is that
these discourses participate in the forging of a new relationship between the
Victorian girl and the Millennial girl.
While new forms of gender and its meanings are created through the
forces of this convergence throughout millennial culture, femininity is
concurrently being recoded and reworked along familiar tensions,
contradictions, and ambivalences seen in the Victorian archive (Gonick, 2006).
St. Pierre (2000) outlines, as a method of analysis, analysis is not about
pointing out an error but about looking at how a structure has been
constructed, what holds it together, and what it produces. Thus, I seek to
investigate the contemporary conditions of Girlhood (the Victorian girl) and
Girl Power (the millennial girl)—two seemingly contradictory discourses—to
circulate as powerful postmodern truths about the sexualisation of girls and
This study draws on some adolescent characters from photography,
literature, and film to suggest ways of examining the cultural resonance of
contemporary depictions of adolescence. The mid-19th century was central to the
establishment of psychoanalytic concepts of sexuality and identity that
intertwined the narratives of photography and portraiture (Grant, 2006). The
conversation surrounding the construction of the girl we see in the Victorian
archive in comparison to the commercialisation of her within popular culture
will expose further fields of enquiry that will grant supplementary avenues to
explore throughout a practice. The importance of the use of photographic
practice in the methodology is to use the exact tool that has been used to
present girls to us. By using a camera, we can re-present the findings creating
new avenues of discourses that will be focal to the methodologies used within
this thesis. Ultimately the intention is to rigorously select common findings
such as poses, styling, and composition (as a rough guide) used in photography
and associated media to present the girl to us and take these findings to then
use within the practice elements that can then be explored via new avenues of
display and presentation.
I am hoping that with sharing this journey specifically together
with my photographic and artistic practice you will gain a better and more rounded
understanding of not only the research behind it but the person behind the work.
I have a lived experience of millennial culture and the fabrications of all things
girl from Clueless to the Spice Girls, whom to this day I love more than ever.
Yet the fabrication of my youth has had a detrimental effect on me, and my expectations
of life and I aim to create a practice that embodies the role in which the girl/woman
plays in front and behind the camera.
The next blog posts will be particularly discussions around the
construction of the girl in social and historical constructs with links to
female artists/photographers and archival research.