Dr Nathalie Weidhase


Lecturer in Media and Communication

Academic and research departments

Department of Sociology.

About

Areas of specialism

Popular Music; Celebrity Culture; Postfeminism; Politics and Gender

My qualifications

PhD Cultural Studies
Roehampton University

Affiliations and memberships

MeCCSA
MeCCSA Women’s Network Steering Committee member

Research

Research interests

Teaching

Publications

Nathalie Weidhase (2024)“I took a dump on the glass ceiling”: Veep, Incompetence, and Populist Political Culture, In: Working Women on Screen: Paid Labour and Fourth Wave Feminism Palgrave Macmillan

The final season of Veep follows fictional former US Vice-President and President Selina Meyer’s quest for re-election. Airing in 2019, it was the only season written and filmed during the Trump presidency. As the showrunners state, the aim of the show is to explore a political sensibility, rather than drawing explicit direct comparisons between Meyer and Trump. Selina Meyer stands in stark contrast to many of the other (post)feminist heroines of quality television, who often make their mark through being very competent at their jobs and invite comparison to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In many ways, Selina Meyer is the anti-Hillary Clinton. Meyer’s mismanagement of her workplace is fundamental to the construction of her as incompetent and is in stark contrast to the image she tries to convey to prospective voters. In television and media and political life more broadly, women have been constructed as saviours of democracies in crisis. Veep does not offer the same illusion of empowerment that other quality television shows offer. Veep’s gender and workplace politics can thus be understood as a critique of the narrative of the White woman saviour and demonstrate the limitations of White mainstream liberal feminism in the age of populism.

Ellie Tomsett, Nathalie Weidhase (2023)Independent Women: The Impact of Pop Divas on Stand-up Comedy, In: Kirsty Fairclough, Benjmin Halligan, Shara Rambarran, Nicole Hodges Persley (eds.), Diva: Feminism and Fierceness from Pop to Hip-Hop Bloomsbury Academic

The diva - a central figure in the landscape of contemporary popular culture: gossip-generating, scandal-courting, paparazzi-stalked. And yet the diva is at the epicentre of creative endeavours that resonate with contemporary feminist ideas, kick back against diminished social expectations, boldly call-out casual sexism and industry misogyny and, in terms of hip-hop, explores intersectional oppressions and unapologetically celebrates non-white cultural heritages. Diva beats and grooves echo across culture and politics in the West: from the borough to the White House, from arena concerts to nightclubs, from social media to social activism, from #MeToo to Black Lives Matter.Diva: Feminism and Fierceness from Pop to Hip-Hop addresses the diva phenomenon and its origins: its identity politics and LGBTQ+ components; its creativity and interventions in areas of popular culture (music, and beyond); its saints and sinners and controversies old and new; and its oppositions to, and recuperations by, the establishment; and its shifts from third to fourth waves of feminism. This co-edited collection brings together an international array of writers - from new voices to established names. The collection scopes the rise to power of the diva (looking to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Grace Jones, and Aaliyah), then turns to contemporary diva figures and their work (with Beyoncé, Amuro Namie, Janelle Monáe, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, and Nicki Minaj), and concludes by considering the presence of the diva in wider cultures, in terms of gallery curation, theatre productions, and stand-up comedy.

Darren G. Lilleker, Nathalie Weidhase (2021)The Psychology of Populism, In: The Palgrave Handbook of Populismpp. 103-114 Palgrave Macmillan

Much work focuses on the nature of populism, as a communicative style and a weak ideology, yet little work has explored the appeal of populism. The work introduces evidence that populism appeals most to citizens who feel disenfranchised and marginalized yet belong to the majority ethnic group. Drawing on work around identity, we show how populist appeals position the pure people against out of touch or corrupt elites and migrants who threaten their status. The lack of sophistication of marginalized groups leads them find resonance in populist’s simple eye-catching, controversial, and amusing statements and join echo chambers which reinforce their Manichean, us versus them, view of the world supported by the dynamics of the modern communication environment.

NATHALIE WEIDHASE (2015)Ageing Grace/Fully: Grace Jones and the Queering of the Diva Myth, In: Women, Celebrity and Cultures of Ageingpp. 97-111 Palgrave Macmillan UK

Grace Jones, the celebrated black singer and disco diva, released her comeback album Hurricane in 2008 after a 19-year musical hiatus that saw her making professional DJ appearances but ceasing to release any new recorded material. Hurricane, and the promotional live performances that followed, were met with critical acclaim and extensive media coverage largely focusing on Grace Jones’ supposedly ‘ageless’ body (Gardner, 2012), while neglecting the actual musical output that constituted her comeback. Throughout her career, Grace Jones has arguably queered a myriad of identity categories in her performances, including race, gender, sexuality and national identity (Guzman, 2010). Invoking the term ‘queer’ in both her status as a disco icon and as an identificatory figure for marginalised audiences, Jones has a long and pronounced history of unsettling and disrupting identity configurations such as gender, sexuality and race (Kershaw, 1997; Royster, 2012). Equally undisputed is her status as a (disco) diva (Lobato, 2007). But this chapter is concerned with the fusion between these two concepts, exploring how a particular queer diva ages in the spotlight. The diva has been identified as a potentially successful performance strategy for ageing, female, popular music performers (Jennings, 2012), and this chapter will explore the ways in which Grace Jones queers the concept of the diva during her comeback at the age of 60 through a queering of gender, race and sexuality. Through close analysis of the lyrical content of Hurricane (2008), the music video for the single ‘Williams Blood’ (2009) and a photo shoot with Chris Cunningham for Dazed & Confused magazine (2008), this chapter will explore the ways in which Jones’ comeback continues to present queer ‘lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made… to signify monolithically’ (Sedgwick, 1994: 8).

NATHALIE WEIDHASE, P Wilde (2020)‘Art’s in pop culture in me’: Posthuman performance and authorship in Lady Gaga’s Artpop (2013), In: Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture5(2-3)pp. 239-257 Intellect

Ten years after her eccentric entrance into the pop scene with ‘Just Dance’, Gaga’s image is now markedly less edgy, in part due to her current focus on her film and TV acting career which requires a different image. In her musical work, Gaga is known for referencing artists that came before her in her music and music videos, and she has previously pushed the assumed boundaries between pop and art. This bricolage of influences often gives rise to claims of inauthenticity where rapidly changing and subversive image has left critics questioning who the ‘real’ Lady Gaga is. Moving beyond limited and value-laden discourses of authenticity, we instead suggest that her performances exemplify a posthuman approach to art and/as subjectivity. In the posthuman view, one’s ‘self’ is not a singular, static, autonomous individual, but a subjectivity that is emergent; an entanglement between entities, both human and non-human. Posthuman theory consequently troubles dualistic binaries, such as those between male/female, self/other, subject/object and human/machine/animal. This allows for a critique of anthropocentric hierarchies, instead arguing for a rhizomatic acknowledgement of the different entities in the subjectivities that emerge. We suggest that Lady Gaga’s work on her 2013 album Artpop exemplifies this approach, as Gaga fashions her body to resemble artworks and wears visual references to (female) artists that came before her. She incorporates different objects, machines, animals and others into her performances, thereby embodying a posthuman subjectivity. This work therefore signifies a reconsideration of what it means to be an audio-visual-artist and challenges not only the sanctity of self, but also the Romantic model of the male artist and singer-songwriter which persists in much popular music media criticism. However, problematically anthropocentric approaches remain throughout via Gaga’s foregrounding of self, and her current return to more muted performance styles might be seen as indicative of the difficulties of living a posthuman life in a humanistic society and marketplace.

NATHALIE WEIDHASE (2019)Book Review: Adventures in Shondaland: Identity Politics and the Power of Representation, In: Critical Studies in Television: The International Journal of Television Studies14(4)pp. 535-537
Nathalie Weidhase (2023)Theresa’s Tears: Gendering Mediations of Populist Leadership Failures in Brexit Britain, In: Feminist Media Studies Taylor and Francis

When former British Prime Minister Theresa May resigned in May (Citation2019), in the first few days much mainstream and social media coverage focused on the tears she cried. Newspapers highlighted her tears as an extraordinary act for a politician. Her unexpected display of emotions was met with sympathy, sometimes even considered a feminist political moment, and often contextualised the framing of May’s political legacy. Analysing UK mainstream tabloid and broadsheet coverage following May’s resignation, this paper explores the media reactions in more detail. A dominant theme in the assessment of May’s legacy was her perceived inability to “get Brexit done.” Any deployment of feminist celebrations of public female tears was quickly overtaken by coverage that constructs May as politically and personally fragile, rooted in a known range of sexist tropes that associate femininity in politics with weakness. This “feminine weakness” is the opposite of what is needed to fulfil the Brexit project, which is often described in masculinist terms. Thus, Brexit is constructed as inherently masculine, and women are considered a threat to this project, highlighting the ways in which Brexit is mediated as a gendered political process. This article argues for greater attention to the role media play in the gendering of populist discourse.

NATHALIE WEIDHASE (2021)The Feminist Politics of Meghan Markle: Brexit, Femininity and the Nation in Crisis, In: European Journal of Cultural Studies Sage Publishing

This article examines the relationship between femininity, popular feminism, and the monarchy in the UK in a time of national and political crisis. Since her entry into the royal family as Prince Harry’s fiancée in November 2017, Meghan Markle has been the subject of much hyped and often problematic media coverage. Celebrated as a feminist, Markle is seen as rejuvenating the British monarchy by injecting some much-needed diversity and progressive politics. Based on the analysis of UK broadsheet and tabloid coverage between 2016 and 2018, this article argues that her embodiment of royal femininity is part of an UK image revamp after a Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 steeped in imperial nostalgia, the aftermath of which saw a rise in reported hate crimes and loss of international reputation. However, her articulations of progressive racialised and feminised politics are equally considered a threat to the cohesion of the royal family, and by extension the nation. As such, Markle’s mediated royal femininity is overburdened with meaning from both ends of the political spectrum, and highlights the gendered dimensions of dominant Brexit discourses. This article emphasises popular media and culture as a terrain in which the ideological work of Brexit (and its resistance) is done.

NATHALIE WEIDHASE (2021)Horrible White people: gender, genre, and television's precarious Whiteness, In: Ethnic and Racial Studiesahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)pp. 1-3 Routledge
NATHALIE WEIDHASE (2015)'Beyoncé feminism' and the contestation of the black feminist body, In: Celebrity studies6(1)pp. 128-131 Routledge
NATHALIE WEIDHASE (2021)Opinion – From Royalty to Rock Stars: Royal Celebrity and Contemporary Politics, In: E-International Relations E-International Relations
NATHALIE WEIDHASE (2020)'Prince Harry Has Gone Over to the Dark Side’: Race, Royalty and US–UK Romance in Brexit Britain, In: Love across the Atlanticpp. 275-290 Edinburgh University Press
Ellie Tomsett, NATHALIE WEIDHASE (2020)A Sign of the Times: Humorous Slogans and Imagery in Modern Day Political Protest, In: Guiliana Monteverde, Victoria McCollum (eds.), Resist! Protest Media and Popular Culture in the Brexit-Trump Erapp. 165-182 Rowman and Littlefield