Popular culture from an academic perspective — new lecture series explores film, TV and comics

08 Jan 2015 12:04:18.223

He’s fond of telling people that he’s fluent in more than six millions forms of communication — but what part do C3P0’s abilities as a translator play in the wider Star Wars narrative? 

Here’s your opportunity to find out — and to explore some other key characters and themes from TV, books, films and comics.  The Popular Culture Lecture Series launches in February at The University of Nottingham, and aims to explore the diverse facets and features of popular culture.  Speakers come from across the University’s faculties, and include experts in science and medicine, arts and social sciences. 

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The first lecture — ‘It’s a trope! Star Wars and/in translation’ — takes place on Wednesday 4 February on University Park. Translation expert Dr Pierre-Alexis Mével will discuss the role that translation and translators play in narratives involving linguistic and cultural diversity.

Future lectures in the weekly series will examine vegan ethics in Doctor Who; how politics is represented in popular fiction; zombie genomics; and how blockbusters like The Hunger Games are digitally promoted. The series will run throughout the spring term — visit the series web page for a full programme.

Mathieu Donner, postgraduate researcher and teaching fellow in the School of English, Faculty of Arts, has organised the lecture series. He said: “Popular culture is what we live by, breathe in, and — often literally — consume every single day, from our phones to the radios of our cars, from the circus to the stage, the street or the big screen.

“These lectures offer the chance to explore a new perspective or angle from your favourite novel, TV series, movie or comic book with experts from across the University. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in popular culture to come along. Everyone is welcome.” 

Dr Mével gave some more detail on what he’ll cover in his lecture.

“I‘ll discuss alien languages in Star Wars and other sic-fi and fantasy films and TV shows — how they were created, how they work, how characters use them to communicate, both with other characters and with the audience, and whether they are actually all that alien. So we’ll look at how the foreign is created through language, accents, and other idiosyncrasies.

“I’ll look more closely at C-3PO, the droid whose job it is to provide translation services in Star Wars. His function often places him at the heart of the narrative, makes him very influential, but also gives him a testimonial role. Is he a mindless machine that was programmed to know a lot of different languages, or is there more to his character?”

All talks will take place in lecture theatre B13 in the Physics Building on University Park — building 22 on the campus map. They start at 5.30pm, are free, and open to staff, students and the general public. For more info on the lectures visit the Popular Culture Lecture Series web page or the Facebook page.

Some of the lectures — including the first, ‘It’s a trope! Star Wars and/in translation’ — will be live tweeted. Follow the @UoNresearch account on Twitter for more information, follow the lectures and share your thoughts. 


Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email mediahub@nottingham.ac.uk or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, in the top 10 for student experience according to the Times Higher Education and winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the THE Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top one per cent of universities by the QS World University Rankings. 

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

Mathieu Donner, postgraduate researcher and teaching fellow in the School of English, Faculty of Arts
Tara De Cozar

Tara De Cozar - Internal Communications Manager

Email: tara.decozar@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8560 Location: University Park

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