Name: Sian Cowman
Project title: The formation of climate migration: media discourse, political ideology and civic action in the emergence of a ‘future problem’
Supervisor/s: Prof Gavan Titley; Dr Anne O’Brien
In recent years, the category of climate migration has become established in political and media discourse. However, the category is unstable and contested due to the complexity of migration and its multi-causal nature; and reproduction of ‘climate migration’ frequently masks and depoliticises this complexity. This is not solely a conceptual problem with consequences for public knowledge, but a political problem also, as the concept can be instrumentalised to advocate for different interests.
The category is widely reproduced by civil society and media, often articulated to push for climate action. Although it was first expressed as concern for environmental degradation, the framing was closely linked to colonial, racialised ideas of overpopulation causing land degradation and resulting migration in regions such as the Sahel and Bangladesh. A focus on these geographical regions continues today in reproduction of the category, along with a hyperfocus on numerical predictions of movement of people across borders. ‘Climate migration’ is also reproduced by political actors to advocate for border securitisation, framed as a catalyst of potential societal collapse.
This research project examines the framing, interpretation and significance of the category of climate migration in media and political discourse through a mixed-method analysis of how the category is reproduced in professional journalistic output in international media titles. This project is in receipt of a John and Pat Hume Doctoral Fellow Scholarship.
Sian is a freelance climate justice educator and researcher, teaching and publishing in the environmental, community education, and human rights sectors in Ireland. You can find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sian-cowman/ and on Twitter/X and Mastodon @Sian_Cowman
Name: Yekta Kalantar Hormozi
Project title: Super Nostalgia World: A Cultural Process Model for Video Game Design Using Nostalgia.
Supervisor/s: Dr Jeneen Naji and Dr Natalie Culligan
“Super Nostalgia World” winner of a John & Pat Hume Doctoral Award, aims to construct a process model for using nostalgia in the contemporary media of video games.
This model offers a structured approach for game designers to consider the complexities of nostalgia use in video game design, emphasising cultural respect, social responsibility, and player’s experience. Its’ purpose is to assist designers in navigating various dimensions of nostalgia, addressing challenges posed, and utilizing its potential while incorporating nostalgia thoughtfully into their game designs.
In uncertain times, people often embrace nostalgia, a longing for the past as a psychological mechanism, a trend media has capitalized on throughout the years, especially as an aftermath of sociological crises such as 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis and recently the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the widespread use of nostalgia has raised concerns regarding its problematic aspects, which have often been overlooked. e.g., the resurgence of the 1989 video game Prince of Persia in the 2000s, along with an upcoming addition in 2024, all driven by nostalgia for this iconic game raises concerns about its problematic orientalist undertone, perpetuating stereotypes of the original 1989 game, that has been glorified through nostalgia not considering questions about aesthetics justice and cultural appropriation, as a society benefits financially by adopting another culture's aesthetics.
The need for sensitivity when employing nostalgia in media is pressing, given its connection to collective memory and its impact on our understanding of the past. Joanne Garde-Hansen (2011) highlights the media's role in shaping collective memory through nostalgia, stressing the ethical responsibility of creators to consider its impact on shared recollections. Thompson (2019) emphasizes nostalgia's impact on cultural identity and how nostalgia in media can shape societies' views on history and heritage, requiring creators to avoid oversimplifying complex cultural narratives.
Name: John Kirwan
Project title: An analysis of Twitch Plays Pokémon detailing the distributed creative process and how distributed creative communities understand the emergent narratives of their creative process.
Supervisor/s: Dr Jeneen Naji and Dr Stephen O’Neill
The aim of this thesis is to study an online community that engaged in distributed creative practice in order to explore both their creative process and their understanding of the narratives that emerged from their creative process. How online communities operate creatively and how individuals interpret their community’s creative works are questions that are increasingly prominent and visible as internet communities become increasingly prominent in people lives. This thesis examines the Twitch Plays Pokémon community to develop an understanding of what the distributive creative process is and how distributed creative communities understand the emergent narratives of their creative process.
Twitch Plays Pokémon (TPP) was a digital community that played the game Pokémon Red online in 2014, and during the sixteen days of play they developed fiction and narratives to fictionalise their play in a process of distributive creativity. Through analysing these narratives, examining particular elements and their development over time, and analysing the available data using quantitative methods, it is possible to further our understanding of the social processes of creativity.
The TPP community provides a contained dataset of Twitch chat data, and the reddit discussions that allow for a study of the motivations for creative participation, and the reasons for the decline in participation. Data analytics and text mining of the TPP data demonstrates how different narrative elements became crucial to understanding how the community narrativized their play.
Through this analysis the thesis identifies a simple creative process that shows how a narreme comes to be and develops, as well as demonstrating how individuals understand the broad and contradictory interpretations of the community’s narremes. The thesis identifies methods for analysing the distributive creative expressions that are increasingly common in our digital lives.
Name: Sarah Elizabeth Larkin
Project title: Constructing Sexual Conservatism in Irish Coming of Age Television Drama.
Supervisor/s: Dr Sarah Arnold and Dr Anne O’ Brien
My project is about the use of heteronormative sexual scripts in Irish coming of age television drama.
For my project, I am analysing the heteronormative sexual scripts found in three popular Irish coming of age series’ Derry Girls, Young Offenders, and Normal People. My main argument is that the sexual scripts present in all three dramas have become the machinations in constructing conservative sexual representations that are neglectful and damaging.
Drawing on theories of representation, sexual scripting, heteronormativity, and postfeminism, this project hopes to draw attention the continued dominance of heteronormative representations in the three prominent Irish series that have popularised coming of age in Ireland.
Literature discussing Irish society’s historically complicated relationship with the sexual and the conservative representations that were constructed in the early days of coming-of-age television in the US and the UK, provide the contextual backdrop that helps put into perspective the use of conservative, heteronormative representations of the sexual in Irish coming of age television drama.
With more visibility when it comes to the array of sexual identities that exist, this project aims to hopefully be another voice in drawing attention to the continued construction of dominant, heteronormative representations.
Name: Eleanor McSherry
Project title: Production Analysis of the Representation of Autism in the Television Drama.
Supervisor/s: Dr Anne O’Brien and Dr Sarah Arnold
There has been an exponential rise in the number of autistic characters and stories in television dramas in recent years. While there is research examining the representation of autism on screen, there has been little analysis of the production processes and media culture that create these representations.
This PhD will conduct a Foucauldian Discourse analysis of the production processes that produce these autistic portrayals and will examine examples from the United Kingdom and Ireland to see if they present good or bad depictions on screen, if there are patterns within the production systems that create these shows, and if there are good practices that can be emulated, also can these can be formed into a set of guidelines within a living document for any future television productions that have an autistic character or story within them.
Name: Conall Ó Fátharta
Project title: Scandal or Silence: The Irish print media role in investigating and shaping historical Church and State abuse as national ‘scandals’ 1990-2020.
Supervisor/s: Prof Gavan Titley and Dr Stephanie Rains
Exposing human rights abuses is seen as a key democratic role of a functioning press. Since the 1990s, Ireland’s media repeatedly punctured uncomfortable historical silences by exposing multiple ‘scandals’ interlinked by a common thread - the treatment of unmarried women and their children by the Church and State. The resulting high-profile State inquiries emerged from sustained media pressure and the resultant public outrage. While the role of journalism is bringing these issues to light has been widely acknowledged, a media history of these events – now seen as seismic events in Irish social and cultural history – remains to be written. I hope to begin that process by focusing on three interlinked episodes of injustice - abuse in industrial schools (1999-2009), Magdalene Laundries (1993-2018) and forced and illegal adoption (1996-2020).
The media brings social and political issues to light using very specific methods and news frames. It sets the public agenda by deciding what news society consumes and in what form. It decides what and, crucially, when any socio-political issue becomes a ‘scandal’. Scandal is one of the most powerful yet most ambiguous media frames. It serves as a simple shorthand to mobilise public attention to an issue. Yet, in providing a structure for the public to attribute blame, guilt and innocence, complex issues can become simplified, distorted, overstated or, worse, understated. It is also crucial to understanding how Irish journalism engages with complex historical institutionally produced injustices.
This dissertation will trace the evolution in reporting which moved the above interlinked episodes of historical injustice from functional news generating limited coverage to national ‘scandals’. This evolution mirrored wider changes within the industry as newspapers began to broaden their geographic and social agendas to reflect a secularising Ireland. This dissertation will examine this changing Irish journalistic landscape and practices that framed the public narrative around these issues. It is therefore, both a work of media history and media analysis.
This research is funded by the Irish Research Council.