Dr Carolyn Pedwell
Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies

  • Email: carolyn.pedwell@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6527
  • Address: Media and Cultural Studies
    School of Arts and Cultures
    Room 2.82
    2nd Floor Armstrong Building
    Newcastle University
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE1 7RU

Roles and Responsibilities

**I am on research leave for an AHRC Fellowship, 'Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Emotion', from 1st June 2013 to 31st May 2014.** 


Degree Programme Director, BA (hons) Media, Communication and Cultural Studies (2011-present)  

Undergraduate Admissions Tutor, BA (hons) Media, Communication and Cultural Studies (2011-present) 

Steering Committee, Gender Research Group, Newcastle Institute for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (2009-present) 

Elected Representative, Promotions Committee, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (2012-present)


Senior Tutor, Media and Cultural Studies (2010-2011)
Chair of Board of Studies, Media and Cultural Studies (2009-2010)
Chair of Undergraduate Staff/Student Committee, Media and Cultural Studies (2009-2010)
School Research Committee, School of Arts and Cultures (2010)


BA (Queen's University, Canada)
MSc (London School of Economics)
PhD (London School of Economics)

Previous Positions

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London (2008-2009)

Visiting Lecturer and Research Fellow, Gender Institute, London School of Economics (2007-2008)

Visiting Fellowships

AHRC Visiting Scholar, The Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary, University of London (2013-2014)

AHRC Visiting Scholar, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney (Summer 2013)

Associate Fellow, Gender Institute, LSE (2008-2011)


Association for Cultural Studies
Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association
Feminist and Women's Studies Association (UK and Ireland)

Honours and Awards

AHRC ECR Research Fellowship (2012) 
ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2008)
London School of Economics Teaching Prize (2008)
Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship (2006-2007)
Universities UK Overseas Research Doctoral Scholarship (2003-2006)
London School of Economics Doctoral Research Studentship (2003-2007)

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of media and cultural studies, sociology, gender studies and international politics, with a focus on feminist, postcolonial and queer theory. My research centres on the transnational politics of emotion; translation and affect; embodiment, culture and relationality; gender, multiculturalism and ethnic difference; and feminist media and popular culture.

I am currently undertaking an AHRC Fellowship: 'Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Emotion' (2013-2014).  During August 2013, I will be Visiting Scholar at the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney.  During the 2013/2014 academic year, I will be Visiting Scholar at the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary, University of London.  

Current Work

My current research explores the transnational politics of emotion and affect, with a focus on empathy.  I am working on a book manuscript, Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave, forthcoming, 2014), which has evolved out of my recent and forthcoming publications in this area (Pedwell, 2007, 2010, 2012a, b, 2013).  Through teasing out the ‘ambivalent grammar’ (Ahmed, 2010) of empathy across a range of popular and scholarly sites where questions of transnational relations of power and social justice are at stake, the book explores the critical implications of empathy’s uneven effects and offers a vital transnational perspective on the ‘turn to affect’.  In doing so, it brings together two key sets of literature that too often remain separate from one another: cultural, literary and psychoanalytical writing on emotion and affect, and political and sociological scholarship on postcoloniality, globalisation, neoliberalism and biopolitics.  The book argues that, in a globalised world, emotions and affects are (re)produced through transnational circuits and ‘connectivities’ (Grewal, 2005) rather than bound by the parameters of individual subjects, communities or nations.  A transnational approach is therefore required to probe the complex ways in which feeling translates and transforms as it travels between and imbricates diverse contexts, processes and technologies.  Empathy provides a pertinent entry point to interrogate these transnational dynamics because, of all the emotions, it the one most frequently conceptualised as an affective bridge between cultural, social and geo-political differences and an emotional means of achieving social transformation on an international scale. 
Through analysis of a range of popular and scholarly ‘affective texts’ - from Obama’s political memoirs and speeches, to best-selling business books, to international development training literatures, to postcolonial novels, to popular science tracts, to feminist, anti-racist and queer theory - the book investigates the possibilities, risks and contradictions of figuring empathy as an affective tool for engendering transnational social justice.   As a means to open up ways of thinking the transnational politics of emotion and affect that take us beyond universalist calls to ‘put oneself in the other’s shoes’, I examine empathy’s dynamic relationships to processes of location, translation and imagination.  This involves exploring the ways that emotions are radically shaped by relations of history, power and violence and contemplating the possibilities of empathies expressed from the margins (rather than the centre) of our social and geo-political imaginaries.  It also entails fleshing out the potentialities and limitations of ‘affective translation’ both within and across cultural, geo-political and temporal contexts.  Moving away from liberal and neoliberal narratives which invest empathetic will with a near magical power to bridge all differences and heal all wounds, the book explores how imaginative empathies might open up different, and potentially transformative, ways of conceptualising power, time and space in a transnational world.  It argues that the relationship between empathy and social justice is not simply about the creation of affective connections and openings that allow ‘difference’, power and complicity to be recognised and negotiated in the present; it is also about how empathy, in its interaction with other emotions and affective states, might function as an affective portal to imagining, and journeying towards, different temporalities and spatialites of social justice.   

Past Research

My past research has explored the critical links between feminist theory, embodied practices and cross-cultural comparison (Pedwell, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011).  My book, Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison (Routledge, 2010) examines how, within both feminist theory and popular culture, establishing similarities between embodied practices rooted in different cultural and geo-political contexts (e.g. ‘African’ female genital cutting and ‘Western’ cosmetic surgery or Muslim veiling and ‘Western’ fashion and beauty practices) has become increasingly common as a means of countering cultural essentialism, ethnocentrism and racism.  The book considers how cross-cultural comparisons of embodied practices function as a rhetorical device - with particular theoretical, social and political effects - in a range of contemporary feminist texts.  It asks: Why and how are cross-cultural links among these practices drawn by feminist theorists and commentators and what do these analogies do?  What knowledges, hierarchies and figurations such do these comparisons produce, disrupt and/or reify in feminist theory, and how do such effects resonate within popular culture?  
The book argues that while cross-cultural comparisons can reveal the instability of neo-colonialist binaries that distinguish various groups as culturally, ethnically and morally ‘different’, they are also frequently problematic.  On the one hand, in emphasising overarching commonalities among practices, comparisons risk collapsing into economies of sameness that elide the complex relations of power through which such practices have been (re)produced.  On the other hand, gendered claims to ‘sameness’ can easily slip into essentialist articulations of cultural, ethnic or racial ‘difference’.  Comparisons can also fix the imagined subjects of these practices in troubling ways.  As a means to re-orient cross-cultural approaches that depend on assertions of similarity or sameness, the book introduces a relational web approach that focuses on unravelling the binary threads linking various practices and/or figures within a wider representational economy.  It aims to generate relational transnational feminist theory and politics premised not on the recognition that our experiences are essentially similar, or that we have suffered common ‘cultural wounds’, but rather on the basis of our fundamental discursive and social interdependence – that is, how we both depend on and affect one another.   

Postgraduate Supervision

I currently supervise five PhD students:                                                                                          

Anna Holt, 'Gender, Popular Cinema and Identity' (2011-present) 

Anne Graefer, ‘Celebrity, Skin and Cyberspace’ (2009-present) (joint with English)

Marie Thompson, 'The Parasite and the Milieu: Noise, Affect and Aesthetics' (2009-present) (joint with Music)

Constance Sabiru, 'Gender Equality in Marriage: A Comparative Study of Patrilienal and Matrilineal Socities in Ghana' (2012-present) (joint with Sociology) 

Tiffany Page, 'The Provocations of Vulnerability' (2013-present) (joint with Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths) 

I would welcome applications from students wishing to conduct PhD research in the areas of: the politics of emotion and affect; embodiment and culture; gender, transnationality and cultural difference; feminist, postcolonial and queer theory; and feminist media and popular culture.

Esteem Indicators

Co-Editor, Feminist Theory (2012-present)                                                                                               

Book Reviews and Interchanges Editor, Feminist Theory (2010-2012)

Honorary Treasurer, Feminist and Women's Studies Association (UK and Ireland) (2005-2009)

Peer Reviewer (Journals): Environment and Planning D: Society and Space; Subjectivity; Critical Discourse Studies; Body and Society, Australian Feminist Studies, European Journal of Women's Studies, Feminist Review, Visual Studies

Peer Reviewer (Manuscripts): Routledge, Palgrave 


AHRC ECR Fellowship (£102,019) (2012) 

Newcastle University Faculty REF Fund Grant (£3,300) (2010)

ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (£65,661) (2008)

Undergraduate Teaching

COM2075: Representations: Identity, Culture and Society
COM1026: Introduction to Social and Cultural Studies
COM1023: Introduction to Media Studies

Postgraduate Teaching

COM8085: Methodologies: Researching Media, Culture and Society