(Head of Department)
My research is primarily concerned with the way in which popular media and culture intersect with identity and ideology. I am interested in issues to do with race, particularly whiteness, and gender, particularly masculinity, as well as with cultural and urban mythologies. I take a multidisciplinary approach that draws on cultural studies, media studies, psychoanalysis, anthropology and sociology, among others. My interests manifest in a number of disparate but related areas.
One stream that my research takes relates to popular mass cultural products, generally genre film and television originating in the US, that travel globally. I have written and published on race and masculinity in 1980s Hollywood action cinema, including Conan the Barbarian, Rambo, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and Predator; on risk and fear in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; and on masculinity in Mad Men.
My doctoral and post-doctoral research was concerned with the crises in white identity during the late apartheid period, read symptomatically through media reporting on the Satanism scare and so-called epidemic of Afrikaans family murder, published as a monograph in 2015. I am currently engaged in a project called ‘Moral panic, social change and the media in late and post-apartheid South Africa’, sponsored by an NRF Thuthuka early career fellowship, which investigates the identificatory and ideological meanings of cultural myths and urban legends.
I have a concurrent interest in the intersections between space and identity in contemporary Johannesburg. I have published on the shift from maids’ rooms to garden cottages and am working on a project around race and discourse in social media spaces devoted to wealthy suburbs around South Africa.
I am interested in supervising postgraduate students whose projects relate to popular culture, moral panic, race and representation, among other areas.