Something Old, Something New – The Wedding Spectacle

Gairm scoile ón ngrúpa taighde Media and Gender in Ollscoil Leicester:

‘Something old, something new: the wedding spectacle across contemporary media cultures’, Friday September 16th, 2016

Keynote speakers: Brenda Weber (Indiana University Bloomington) and Deborah Jermyn (University of Roehampton)

Discussant: Diane Negra (University College Dublin)

Despite the ravages of the financial crisis, the ensuing era of austerity, and a continuing historic decline in marriage rates, what Chrys Ingraham (2008) calls the ‘wedding-industrial complex’ appears to have emphatically bucked the trend, and continues to grow at an exponential rate. At the same time, whilst the wedding spectacle is increasingly prevalent across television and film, the cultural terrain upon which weddings are performed is also shifting through the proliferation of new media technologies, changing photography practices, ‘selfie’ culture, and the intensifying cultural imperatives towards self-stylisation.

This symposium seeks to explore how this increasing visibility of the wedding spectacle across media culture can be understood in relation to broader shifts and transformations in the politics of gender, sexuality, class and race. Some of the questions that we seek to address are: How have the international but deeply uneven shifts in legislation around equal marriage resignified the gender politics of the wedding? How are the changing ways in which ceremonies are photographed and shared through social media networks remaking our understanding of the wedding as a public/private event?  How are national, cultural and ethnic identities negotiated, intensified or reworked through the wedding spectacle? Does the increased visibility of the wedding-as-spectacle signal a renewed attachment to traditional heteronormativity and patriarchal practices? Or can the wedding spectacle open up new expressive possibilities for contesting and resisting gender norms?

This symposium invites papers which address these questions through considerations of the wedding spectacle across all forms of media, or which relate to any of the following themes:

  • questions of patriarchy, postfeminism and ‘re-traditionalization’
  • spectacles of ‘equal’ marriage: weddings, queerness and heteronormativity
  • the class politics of the wedding spectacle
  • weddings as spectacles of multiculturalism
  • weddings, women’s labour and cultural value
  • the political economy of wedding media

Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words. Please send them to by July 15th, 2016.

The Media and Gender group is an exciting, interdisciplinary, and growing research group based in the Department of Media and Communication at the University of Leicester. The symposium is also supported by the new University of Leicester research institute, Cultural and Media Economies (CAMEo). Members of the organising committee for the symposium are: Helen Wood, Jilly Boyce Kay, Melanie Kennedy, Claire Jenkins, Dafni Mangalousi, Patricia Routh, and Natasha Whiteman.