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Title: Feminine experience : media education and gender representation
Author: Maharajh, Divya
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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This doctoral thesis examines the ways young women experience media education in sixth form, with particular emphasis on their experience of gender representation lessons. Secondary research objectives include an examination of how young women regard the development of their own critical media literacy and how they conceive of the effects of media education on their self-esteem. Through classroom observations and interviews with A-level Media Studies teachers and female students, this research explores three key areas of focus in understanding young women’s experiences: media representations of feminine aesthetics and the sexualisation of feminine appearance, the negotiation between course material and students’ personal engagement with media, and lastly reflections on how critical media literacy is defined and developed within the Media Studies course. The thesis discusses ways in which content both constrains and enables students’ development of critical media literacy. The role of chosen exam boards, teaching styles, and forms (i.e. upper sixth form versus lower sixth form) are examined as influencing factors. Specific lessons from observations, which students reflected upon during interviews, are also discussed in order to understand the process of teaching and learning about gender representation. A feminist discourse is at times present though mostly in covert ways. A greater consideration for contemporary feminist work would resolve some of the current difficulties faced by educators in their efforts to develop students’ critical awareness, specifically when teaching about the representation of women. Female students often reflect what Gill has termed a ‘postfeminist sensibility’ (2007: 254); however, this exists in varying degrees. In certain contexts students tend to articulate more ‘traditional’ feminist values. In relation to one of the secondary research objectives, students find that A-level Media Studies improves the self-esteem of their physical appearance; however, other findings reveal that the extensive focus on textual analysis of sexualised and idealised representations of women can sometimes counter-act the aspects which students referenced as beneficial to their self-esteem. Despite many recommendations for improving the teaching of gender representation that are offered here, it is evident that some solutions are dependent on broader shifts occurring at the level of the education system.
Supervisor: Hesmondhalgh, D. ; Klein, B. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available