Name: Gemma Edney

Discipline: Film Studies

Location: Usually in my office in Queens Building, Streatham Campus, although I also spend a large amount of time on trains.

What is the working title for your research project?

Sounding Girl(y): Music and Girlhood in Contemporary French Cinema

Can you describe your research project in more detail?

My PhD focuses on the representation of girlhood in contemporary French film, specifically the way that music can help articulate the experiences of girlhood characters. I examine the different ways music can ‘mean,’ using a combination of cultural, musicological, and film analysis, and explore how our engagement with (and perceived meaning of) music is largely dependent on our prior experience of music; the stereotypes and associations attached to different music; and the context in which the music is heard. I then apply these findings to film, to show how music is able to communicate sensations, feelings, and experiences that are not expressed vocally or visibly in the film, and therefore offer a means of making a French girlhood subjectivity accessible, even to those who may not be French, young, or female.

…and explain it in a single sentence?

My thesis explores the way that film music can articulate the feelings, emotions, and experiences of French girlhood on screen.

What is a typical day like?

I live in Taunton, so I commute in on the train each day. I am usually on the train at 7.07, which means I’m on campus by around 07.50. I use the time on the train to read for fun (shocker, I know!) and have a few minutes to myself so that I am ready for the day ahead. When I first get to campus I usually head to the gym and then make my way to my office around 9/9.15. I then check my to-do list in my diary and get started. I am often more productive in the mornings, so I will start with whatever writing/editing goal I have that day, and then try and work the other tasks in to times when I need a break from the thesis! My office is like clockwork when it comes to lunchtime, and everyone tries to take a break out to eat lunch together (although recently I’ve had more al-desko lunches than I would like!). In the afternoon I usually continue with the writing, and then later on, if I have completed my main goal for the day, I will usually tackle other tasks like seminar planning, conference prep, admin, or work for other projects. Before I leave in the evening I will usually make my to-do list for the next day, and do any last-minute email admin. I generally leave the office between 6pm and 7pm to get the train home. Once I’m there, I try to have a strict no-work policy, so that I can properly wind down and actually see my partner for a few hours!

What would you say is your proudest moment during your research journey so far?

I think the most excited I have been is when I found out I had been cited by a leading academic in his recently-published book, and when I was accepted to write a chapter for a forthcoming collection on French adolescent film. My proudest moment, though, has to be when an undergraduate student emailed me following a lecture to say “it was great listening to you explaining how to deconstruct social stereotypes!”

What do you like to do when you are not researching?

You can find me every so often at SID, where I work part time, teaching on undergraduate modules, or delivering sessions at local schools through my work with The Brilliant Club. On weekday evenings, I can usually be found playing games with friends, in rehearsals with my Taunton choir, or dog-sitting through BorrowMyDoggy! I also like going to the cinema, walking/camping around the beautiful Somerset countryside, and travelling – last year my partner and I went on a two-week campervan tour of Europe which was an amazing experience (don’t worry, my thesis came with me!).

If you could start again, what would be your advice to yourself as a new postgraduate researcher?

It’s OK to have bad days or days that are less productive; and it’s definitely OK to take a break every now and then! Some of my most productive days have been after a slump, so listen to your head when it says to slow down. Also, get yourself a decent diary, some more waterproof shoes, and tidy your desk.

And finally- can you explain your research project in 5 emojis?

This is actually quite easy for me! As my research is based in a visual medium, images lend themselves quite well to explaining it (being based in contemporary culture is helpful too!!).

‍‍-My first emoji is a girl emoji – my research explores girl experience. I like that she has got attitude as well, like lots of the girls in my films!

-Secondly, I have the zipper-mouth emoji to show how the experiences of the girl characters are often left un-vocalised, and how it is possible to communicate in non-verbal ways in film.

-Thirdly, I’ve chosen the music notes emoji because I look at how these experiences can be communicated by music!

– Finally, I have my last two emojis together – the French flag and the clapper board, to represent French Film!

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