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Is the Future of Television Female?

Info about event


Friday 1 November 2019,  at 09:00 - 12:00


Gender & Media Symposium

Organizers: Sanne Eichner & Pia Majbritt Jensen

Questions of representation have once again become a matter of interest not at least due to numerous reports that demonstrate the extreme mis- and underrepresentation of women on large and small screens all over the world.

The Centre for Transnational Media Research – in collaboration with the Media, Communication & Society and Cultural Transformations research group Transnational Television – invites you to discuss this question in our symposium on precisely this question.

Presenters include two esteemed scholars within the field of gender in the media, namely Professor Elizabeth Prommer (University of Rostock) and Senior Lecturer Janet McCabe (Birkbeck, University of London).


9:00 – 9:15     Morning Coffee & Welcome

9:15 – 9:45     Janet McCabe: Divided Bodies, Crossings Borders, Transnational Encounters: towards a feminist approach of transnational TV studies

9:45 – 10:00   Coffee break

10:00 – 10:30 Elizabeth Prommer: Invisible – Women in German Television

10:30 – 12:00 Roundtable discussion      

Janet McCabe is Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. She has written widely on gender, representational politics and contemporary television and is the Editor-in Chief of Critical Studies in Television.

Abstract: Divided Bodies, Crossings Borders, Transnational Encounters: towards a feminist approach of transnational TV studies

This talk will explore the cultural representational politics of gender for transnational TV studies. I am interested in sites of encounter—audio-visual essay practice-as research, transnational co-production, the in-between-ness of representational borders—that give rise to ways of thinking about the politics of gender at a border and how the textures of these ways of thinking embed deep within different national production cultures.  

Offered through an audiovisual essay as an example of practice-as research—and the essays will focus on the pilot of original scripted TV format, The Bridge, made with Catherine Grant, I think through the implications of such an approach for researching transnational TV studies. It is an approach that pulls notions of core and periphery out of orbit and pushes into contact and contest different images from different geo-political television regions; and how in each phase a shift occurs, a new form is accomplished. To this end I suggest how contemporary feminist thought and practice-as research offers the possibility to help make sense of the politics and different cultural exchanges entwined within the transnational movement of a series like The Bridge. 

Elizabeth Prommer is Professor and Chair for Communication and Media Studies, Director of the Institute for Media Research at the University of Rostock, Germany. She conducted the field work for Cinema and Gender (2017); Television and Gender (2017) for the public broadcasters, as well as the Diversity Report 2016 for the German director’s guild and the onscreen study Audiovisual Diversity in 2017.

Abstract: Invisible – Women in German Television

Women are strongly under-represented in film and television; they do not only not appear in leading roles and they are also not represented in the diversity they occupy in real life. In reality, half of the judiciary is female, while in film and television only just under a quarter of legal experts are women.

To determine audiovisual diversity, we coded 3,500 representative hours of television and 800 German cinema films. These are the first figures since the end 1990s to reflect gender relations in audiovisual media in Germany - and they are alarming: in addition to the lack of visibility of women, the role clichés - pretty and young women, strong and wise men - also seem to be cemented. We can also show, that the gender of the creative roles (producer, director, script and commissioning editor) have an effect on the visibility of women in German TV.

Roundtable participants: Gunhild Agger (AAU, Culture and Global Studies), Kirsten Frandsen (AU, Media Studies), Cathrin Bengesser (AU Media Studies), Matthias Stephen (AU, English), Susan Yi Sencindiver (AU, English), Pei Sze Chow (AU, Media Studies), Susanne Eichner (AU, Media Studies), Pia Majbritt Jensen (AU, Media Studies)