Upcoming events

Seminar series 1: Political narratives and journalistic storytelling

The CMPCR Autumn seminar series interrogates the role of storytelling and metanarratives in persuasive political communication, including in propaganda and populist personality politics.

Televisual Caricature: Political Satire and Beyond - Hannah Andrews (Lincoln School of Film Media and Journalism)

Wednesday 13 December 2023

  • Location (hybrid): LASS A2 / Teams meeting
  • Time: 3.30-5pm

Televisual caricatures are comically exaggerated impersonations of real figures mediated via television. Remediating portrait caricature, they employ distortions satirically to reveal culturally agreed-upon ‘truths’ about a subject’s flaws.

This paper will explore the surprising intersections between television and caricature: their ambivalently demotic qualities, the way they engage the viewer’s distracted glance, and their address to an audience with pre-existing knowledge of and (assumed) disposition towards their subjects. It will consider television caricature in its most familiar guise, the political satire, presenting a case study of the industrial positioning of the most famous caricature series of all Spitting Image.

It will conclude by examining how other televisual caricatures of that show’s ‘star turn’, Margaret Thatcher, demonstrate television’s use of the caricature mode beyond satire.

Hannah Andrews has published widely on aesthetic and institutional relationships between film and television, on biographical television programming, and on television representations of real people in drama and comedy. Her current research is on televisual caricature - that is, exaggerated, comedic depictions of real individuals for television.

Teams joining details

This will be a hybrid event, though we strongly encourage in-person attendance.



Previous events

A slogan is not a philosophy: Political catchphrases as a form of fake news - Philip Seargeant (applied Linguistics, OU)

Wednesday 29 November 2023

  • Location (hybrid): LASS A2 / Teams meeting
  • Time: 4-5.30pm

In this talk I’ll look at the part that political slogans play within political discourse, with a specific focus on how they relate to the generation of mis- and disinformation. As a type of political catchphrase, slogans can act as an indicator of salient topics in the political discourse of the time; operate as shorthand for a broader discourse around such salient issues; and, when they become standard vocabulary in the public conversation, provide a means for encoding bias. The talk will look at how the elements that constitute both political slogans and ‘fake news’ are closely related to a set of core properties found in propaganda, and will consider how slogans can thus be seen to contribute to a post-truth environment.  

Philip Seargeant is applied linguist, specialising in the relationship between language, politics and social media, and the author of The Art of Political Storytelling: Why Stories Win Votes in Post-Truth Politics, which examines the pivotal role that persuasive storytelling plays in shaping our understanding of the political world we live in.

Teams joining details

This will be a hybrid event, though we strongly encourage in-person attendance.


AI, Strategic Narrative and Public Diplomacy: Continuity in the Battle of the Narratives? - Ben O’Loughlin (Politics and IR, Royal Holloway)

Thursday 23 November 2023

  • Location (hybrid): Monica Partridge D08 / Teams meeting
  • Time: 4-5.30pm

We advance a narrative approach to the study of public diplomacy. We bring together two phenomena: information disorder in communication, and order in world politics, to examine the challenges of narrating public diplomacy. We examine how actors can use tools of information disorder to further their strategic aims to shape international order. First, we set out these two (dis)order phenomena and their relationship. Second, we set out the dilemma of establishing and verifying truth claims in this information disorder. Third, we demonstrate why analysis of actors’ strategic narratives used in this context can explain how they are using information disorder to further their claims. Fourth and finally, we explore how generative artificial intelligence (AI) offers new tools for communication in foreign policy. It is important to examine both how actors use these tools, and how they try to control and direct the development of these tools. We argue that these tools add another dimension to a contested multipolar international order, one that extends a basic problem that generates politics: different people in different places prioritise different things and give things different meanings. Generative AI will not change this or solve this. This means an increasing complexity of communication since we wrote of strategic narrative in 2010. However, the distinct practices of actors using narratives to shape behaviour, and narratives being fundamental to how citizens view the world, remains unchanged.

Professor Ben O’Loughlin is director of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, and has developed the concept of ‘strategic narrative’ as an expression of soft power in international relations.

Teams joining details

This will be a hybrid event, though we strongly encourage in-person attendance.


Political narratives and journalistic storytelling: an Interdisciplinary discussion

Wednesday 18 October 2023

  • Location: LASS A2
  • Time: 3.30-5pm

The first event in this series is an interdisciplinary roundtable discussion between UoN colleagues from different disciplines with a common interest in political storytelling.

Carina Hart’s (English Literature) analysis of Robin Hood folklore and literature demonstrates how the narrative of the heroic outlaw has been invoked by both Boris Johnson, whose government broke the law to prorogue parliament and avoid scrutiny of the Brexit bill, and Extinction Rebellion.

Jen Birks’ (Cultural, Media and Visual Studies) study of the 2022 Conservative leadership election explores how both Truss and Sunak employed the ‘hero’s journey’ archetype to give competing visions of the dominant threat to the national community and their readiness to take up the quest to vanquish it.

Ellen Watts (Politics and International Relations) will discuss the 'origin story' as a form of political knowledge and 'meritocratic narratives' in Marcus Rashford's #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign.

We hope to welcome colleagues from a wide range of disciplines to join us in a discussion of political storytelling.


Launch event: the inaugural CMPCR Annual Lecture on Media and Citizenship

Wednesday 20 September 2023

On the evening of Wednesday 20th September 2023, the Centre for Media, Politics and Communication Research (CMPCR) was formally launched with a fascinating and engaging public lecture by Bellingcat founder and CEO Eliot Higgins at Nottingham Contemporary.

Eliot explained how Bellingcat has been verifying witness photos and videos from the Ukraine war and collating geolocated information for journalists and other researchers to use, as well as pioneering the use of open-source investigation to record evidence for legal prosecutions of war crimes.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session chaired by John Hess, who was previously political editor at BBC East Midlands before making a foray into local politics in the race for Labour mayoral candidate. The current political editor, Tony Roe, also interviewed Eliot and the centre directors, and filmed part of the lecture for an item on the Politics East Midlands BBC programme. The CMPCR hope to make this an annual public lecture event on the theme of media and citizenship.

Group portrait of members standing in line

Caption (from left to right): John Hess, Eliot Higgins, Natalie Martin, Jen Birks.

Two people sitting on stage, one interviewing the other

Caption (from left to right): Eliot Higgins being interviewed by John Hess.





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