Dr Melanie Kennedy

Lecturer in Media and Communication & Director of Education

School/Department: Media Communication and Sociology, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 223 1624




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I joined the School in 2016. Prior to that I worked at the University of Leeds, London Metropolitan University and University of East Anglia. From 2016-17 to 2018-19 I was the Programme Director for the BA Media and Communication, BA Media and Society, and Media Major and Minor programmes. I have been the Director of Education in the School of Media, Communication and Sociology since 2021. I have been a co-convener the Media and Gender Research Group since 2017; the group has members across the UK and internationally. I have been the Associate Editor for the Routledge journal Feminist Media Studies since 2018. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

My research is rooted in feminist media and cultural studies with interests in: popular film and television; TikTok; celebrity culture; girls, girlhood and femininity; youth media and culture; postfeminism and popular feminism; tweens and tweenhood; feminist theory; gender; representation and identity. I examine media representations of gendered, age-defined, classed, sexualised, raced identities (in particular tweens, girls, and young female celebrities), and the popular culture that addresses these subjects. 


My PhD research was funded by the AHRC and published as a monograph, Tweenhood (2019). It examines contemporary mainstream pre-adolescent girls' films, TV programmes, celebrities and surrounding media, including popular "princess" narratives and Disney Channel programming and films. I analysed how the tween is both constructed and addressed by these media texts highlighting the centrality of femininity and celebrity within tween popular culture.

With Drs Jessica Bain and Jilly Boyce Kay I was awarded a CSSAH Teaching Development Fund grant for the scholarship project "Enriching international students' pedagogic experiences of Feminist Media Studies".

I have continued interests in representations and labour of young female celebrity, feminism in postfeminist and neoliberal contexts, and cultural constructions of young femininity in transitional moments in girlhood. I am currently researching: 1) The spectacular visibility of girlhood on TikTok; 2) The representation and labour of young pregnancy and motherhood in reality TV and celebrity culture; 3) The construction of young femininity, sexuality and father-daughter relationships in the mediated Evangelical Christian purity movement


Books, journal articles and book chapters:

Kennedy, M. (2021) Feminism and the Politics of Resistance: Spectacular Girls and the place of psychoanalytic approaches in feminist media and cultural studies during the Coronavirus crisis. European Journal of Cultural Studies (Epub ahead of print), pp. 1-6. Available at: (Accessed: 16 September 2021).

Kennedy, M. (2020). 'If the rise of the TikTok dance and e-girl aesthetic has taught us anything, it's that teenage girls rule the internet right now': TikTok celebrity, girls and the Coronavirus crisis. European Journal of Cultural Studies 23(6), pp.1069-1076.

Kennedy, M. (2020). Spectacular virgins: Purity porn and the making uncanny of the white wedding. In: Kay, J.B., Kennedy, M. and Wood, H. (eds.) The Wedding Spectacle Across Contemporary Media and Culture: Something Old, Something New. Oxon: Routledge, pp.155-169.

Kay, J.B., Kennedy, M. and Wood, H. (eds.) (2020). The Wedding Spectacle Across Contemporary Media and Culture: Something Old, Something New. Oxon: Routledge.

Kay, J.B., Kennedy, M. and Wood, H. (2020). Something old, something new: The gender politics of the wedding spectacle. In: Kay, J.B., Kennedy, M. and Wood, H. (eds.) The Wedding Spectacle Across Contemporary Media and Culture: Something Old, Something New. Oxon: Routledge, pp.1-19.

Kennedy, M. (2019). Tweenhood: Femininity and Celebrity in Tween Popular Culture. London: I.B. Tauris.

Kennedy, M. (2018). 'Come on, let's go find your inner princess': (post-)feminist generationalism in tween fairy tales. Feminist Media Studies 18(3), 424-439.

Kennedy, M. and Coulter, N. (2018). Locating Tween Girls. Girlhood Studies 11(1), 1-7.

Kennedy, M. (2017). 'Miley Cyrus and the "Murder" of Hannah Montana: Authenticity and Young Female Celebrity. In: O'Connor, J. and Mercer, J. (eds.) Childhood and Celebrity. London: Routledge, pp. 82-98.

Kennedy, M. (2014). Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: 'Becoming' a Woman, 'Becoming' a Star. Celebrity Studies (5)3, 225-241.

Kennedy, M. (2012). Girlhood in Popular Culture: An Introduction. Networking Knowledge (5)1, 1-4.

Other publications:

Kennedy, M. and Kay, J.B. (2021) Catfights, cultural gaslighting, and the persistence of misogyny in the media. Hacked Off: Campaign for a Free + Accountable Press, 26 August. Available at: (Accessed: 16 September 2021).

Kennedy, M. (2020). Celebrity and tween identities for girls. Sociology Review 29(3), 2-6

Kay, J.B. and Kennedy, M. (2019). What ‘Coleen Rooney vs Rebekah Vardy’ tells us about contemporary gender politics. The Conversation, 11 October. Available at: (Accessed: 19 May 2020).

Kennedy, M. (2016). WAGs are just fodder for the Tabloid slurs. Leicester Mercury, 2 June, p.15.

Kennedy, M. (2015). Book review: Ageing, Popular Culture and Contemporary Feminism: Harleys and Hormones. Feminist Media Studies 15(6), 1062-1064.

Kennedy, M. (2011). Book review: 'Fame' by Mark Rowlands, 'American Idolatry' by Christopher E. Bell, and 'Makeover TV' by Brenda R. Weber. Scope 21, 46-53.


I am currently supervising PhD students researching topics including tween audiences' reception of Disney Princesses; representation and reception of tattooed identities on reality TV and in tattoo subcultures; child audiences' reception of popular television and their construction of national identity; and the representation of young female celebrities' feminist identities.

I welcome enquiries from prospective students interested in carrying out doctoral research across my research interests and expertise listed above.


I am Module Leader for the following modules:

MS1011 Media Origins
MS3009 The Media, Celebrity and Fan Culture

I also contribute to several other undergraduate and postgraduate modules, and supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations.

Press and media

I am happy to talk to members of the media on any of my research interests and expertise detailed above.

I have recently been interviewed for M: Le Magazine du Monde, NBC News, The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore, The Atlantic and others, and have written by invitation for publications including Hacked Off: Campaign for a Free + Accountable Press, The Conversation, and the Leicester Mercury on a variety of topics from TikTok and celebrity Charli D'Amelio, to WAGs and media "catfights".

Listen to my recent reflections on the field of celebrity studies for the Routledge journal Celebrity Studies.

Watch my recent response to Angela McRobbie's latest book Feminism and the Politics of Resilience (Polity, 2020) during a panel discussion with Angela McRobbie, Kim Allen, Hannah Hamad and Catherine Rottenberg.


  • Associate Editor, Feminist Media Studies (Routledge), current
  • Editorial Board member, Celebrity Studies (Routledge), current
  • Book Reviews Editor, Celebrity Studies (Routledge), 2015-2018
  • Peer reviewed grant applications for the AHRC and North West Cancer Research/Tenovus Cancer Care
  • Peer reviewed articles for Celebrity Studies; European Journal of Cultural Studies; Feminist Media Studies; Film, Fashion & Consumption; Feminist Media Studies; Gender and Education; Girlhood Studies; International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society; JCMS (Cinema Journal); Journal of Youth Studies; Metal Music Studies; Language and Intercultural Communication; Outskirts: Feminisms Along the Edge; Journal of Popular Romance Studies.
  • Peer reviewed manuscripts and endorsed monographs for Anthem Press, Bloomsbury, Peter Lang, Temple University Press and SAGE


Since 2018:

  • Angela McRobbie: Feminism and the Politics of "Resilience" A Panel Discussion (2021) Media and Gender Research Group, University of Leicester.
  • Young Female Celebrity and the "Train Wreck" Mythology (2021) Women Behaving Badly: A Roundtable Discussion for International Women's Day, University of Leicester.
  • The Progressive Potentials of Purity Porn and Feminist Media Studies' Return to Psychoanalysis (2019) CAMEo Conference, Leicester.
  • Authenticity, achieved celebrity, and young motherhood (2019) Cultural Studies Association Conference, Tulane University.
  • Wedding Iconography and the Construction of Care and Virginity in Purity Balls (2018) CAMEo Conference, Leicester.
  • Beyond "Whitestream Feminism": Teaching Feminist Media Studies in the Transnational Classroom (2018) Discovering Teaching Excellence Conference, University of Leicester, and Console-ing Passions Conference, Bournemouth University.
  • Terry Richardson and the affective spectacle of young female celebrity (2018) Celebrity Studies Conference, Sapienza University.
    Representations of celebrity feminists (2018) Celebrity Studies Conference, Sapienza University.

Media coverage

Interviewed in:

Fresard, J (2021) La famille D'Amelio court après la célébrité des Kardashian. M: Le Magazine du Monde, 28 August, p.22.

Elbaum, R and Suliman, A (2021) Princes William and Harry unite to unveil Diana statue, but it's their relationship on display [Online]. NBC News, 1 July. Available at:

Lodhi, A (2021) Constraints, Confrontations and Community: Women's Unique and Evolving Social Media Experience [Online]. The Daily Q, 28 April. Available at:

Kang, H (2021) Softbois Are Dead, Long Live E-Boys. The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore, February, pp.42-43.

Tiffany, K (2020) How Quickly Can a Girl Go Viral on TikTok? [Online] The Atlantic, 16 September. Available at:

Monograph Tweenhood (2019) reviewed in:

Dumitrescu, I (2019) Heel turns: The history of modern celebrity. Times Literary Supplement. 20 September, pp. 3-5.


Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2019)
PhD in Film, Television and Media Studies (University of East Anglia, 2013)
MA Film Studies (Distinction, University of East Anglia, 2010)
BA Film and Television Studies (First Class Honours, Univeristy of East Anglia, 2008)

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