From the January to March 2019 I ran a course on WOMEN IN SCIENCE FICTION CINEMA at HOME (an independent venue for contemporary theatre, visual art and film in Manchester, UK) as part of their wonderful 2019 season Celebrating Women in Global Cinema. The course recruited quite a diverse group of participants who helped me to work through some important and emerging ideas about the place of women in science fiction. Continue reading “Women in Science Fiction: Teaching Gender and Genre”
I was absolutely delighted to be invited to be a guest on the excellent Lady Science podcast in January 2018 to talk about my work on representations of women scientists in popular media. Continue reading “PODCAST: Lady Science Podcast, Episode 5: STEM Women in Popular Culture”
Virtual assistants are increasingly popular and present in our everyday lives: literally with Alexa, Cortana, Holly, and Siri, and fictionally in films Samantha (Her), Joi (Blade Runner 2049) and Marvel’s AIs, FRIDAY (Avengers: Infinity War), and Karen (Spider-Man: Homecoming). These names demonstrate the assumption that virtual assistants, from SatNav to Siri, will be voiced by a woman. This reinforces gender stereotypes, expectations, and assumptions about the future of artificial intelligence. Continue reading “There’s a reason Siri, Alexa and AI are imagined as female: sexism”
Last week I participated in an Into Film (North) organised screening of Hidden Figures with a women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) post-screening panel discussion at the historic and beautiful Manchester Central Library. I chaired a post-screening discussion of the movie with two phenomenal women engineers – electrical engineer Dr Ozak Esu and software engineer Jessica Wong – and a room full of teenagers. It was great to see the positivity, enthusiasm, and honesty of the speakers responding to questions about workplace inequality, institutionalised discrimination, and pathways for young women into STEM.
Continue reading “Travel Back In Time and Into Film: Women scientists in Hidden Figures and Timeless”
Originally posted: June 2017
This year  the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) ran screenings across the country to celebrate and highlight the history of science film Hidden Figures. I worked with Jessica van Horssen (Leeds Beckett University) to bring together interested people to view the film and discuss how the history of science, race, and gender are presented on screen. I helped to organise #HiddenFiguresParty events in the North East and gave talks and facilitated post-screening discussions in Newcastle, and in Leeds alongside Jessica – fulfilling a teenage dream of working at the glorious Hyde Park Picture House. Continue reading “Hidden Figures: Screening Hidden Histories”
War of the Planet of the Apes is the final instalment of the reboot of 50-year-old Planet of the Apes franchise, empathetically imagining the fall of humanity from the apes’ perspective. It concludes the three-film journey of Caesar (in a mesmerising performance from Andy Serkis) who moves from science experiment to resistance leader to sacrificial saviour. Continue reading “REVIEW: War of the Planet of the Apes (Reeves, 2017)”
Co-written with Dr R. Lyle Skains
Blade Runner is a formative SF film for many fans and scholars, inviting endless revisitation – a multi-layered, visually excessive storyworld that prioritises aesthetics over narrative. Its long-awaited sequel, 2049, is equally beautiful and complex, although more narratively accessible than its predecessor. Similarly, 2049 also asks questions about the essence of humanity while lacking depth in its cultural representation. Continue reading “REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)”
There was a time when the only scientists you would see in feature films were men, and white men at that. But women scientists are finally getting the storylines they deserve. Yes we’ve had female scientists in past movies but their opportunities were limited, so it’s exciting to see this generation being given the centre stage. Continue reading “Women scientists are more than capable of leading blockbuster storylines”
Originally posted: January 2018
Tiffany Haddish (star of Girls’ Trip) and Andy Serkis (War of the Planet of the Apes) co-hosted the 2018 Oscar nominations broadcast in anticipation of the 90th Academy Awards in March. Haddish is the breakout star of one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters, tipped for success this award’s season. Serkis, meanwhile, is a phenomenally successful actor, but one whose face is not always seen on screen – despite a lengthy list of acting credits. Continue reading “Oscars 2018: why Andy Serkis has yet again been denied the recognition he deserves”
Originally published: November 2017
This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a virus.
In Planet of the Apes (1968) Charlton Heston faced a future of intelligent apes in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust but in the 2011 re-launch of the franchise – Rise of the Planet of the Apes – the fall of humanity follows a global pandemic that kills 1 in 10 humans whilst heightening ape intelligence. Although Rise of the Planet of the Apes falters in accurately representing the processes of science it does have a striking visualisation of the spread of the ‘Simian Flu’ – an unintended side effect of an attempt to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an example of recent film and TV that shows that lab-engineered outbreaks have replaced the nuclear holocaust on screens as the imagined and expected end of humanity. Science and scientists are central to causing and perhaps saving humanity from extinction. Continue reading “Movies and Scientific Accuracy (Microbiology Today)”