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Dr Bethan Michael-Fox

SFHEA, FRSA

Profile summary

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Professional biography

My BA and MA are in English Literature from Cardiff University, and my interdisciplinary Ph.D was awarded by the University of Winchester. I am particularly interested in late 20th and early 21st century writing and in the role of literature, writing and culture more broadly (as both practice and product) in negotiating experiences of loss.

My expertise are in social, cultural and literary theory, with a particular focus on postmodernism and poststructuralism. My interdisciplinary thesis was situated as a contribution to the academic field of Death Studies and examined the negotiation of death in the work of Julian Barnes, Jenny Diski and Will Self, as well as in a range of televisual texts, theory, visual and cultural examples. 

Prior to joining the Open University, I worked as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire in the School of Education and English, where I taught and co-ordinated modules and courses, ran a Faculty wide peer assisted learning programme and was a member of several university committees and groups.

At the Open University I am a staff tutor and I manage and teach on several modules across different faculties. I manage A230 Reading and Studying Literature and teach on A233 Telling Stories: The Novel and Beyond; A112 Cultures; L101 English Language Studies; Y031 Access Arts and Humanities, and YXM130 Making your Learning Count (an inter and multidisciplinary reflective learniing module). I am an Honorary Associate in the School of English and Creative Writing and a member of the Film and Media and Open Thanatology Research Groups. 

I also work as the Managing Editor for Taylor and Francis academic journal Mortality, which promotes the interdisciplinary study of death and dying.

In a voluntary capacity I run the Social Media for the academic journal Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural, for which I have also edited a Special Issue entitled Death and the Screen.

I am a general council member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society.

Research interests

My research interests are interdisciplinary, predominantly centred around engagement with death and the dead in contemporary popular culture. I am also interested in the intersections between academic, personal and creative writing about death and loss, and I am active part of the University of Bath's Centre for Death and Society writing initative CDAS Writes. I tend to ground my research in literature from the field of Death Studies and in postmodernist and poststructuralist theory, though I am also interested in sociological understandings and cultural sociology.

I enjoy collaborative research, engaging with different frameworks and methodologies and exploring how interdisciplinary approaches can advance understandings. I am currently working on several interdisciplinary publishing projects, which you can find out more about on my personal website www.drbethanmichaelfox.com

My doctoral thesis focused on the ways in which death and the dead are neogitiated in what I term 'late postmodern' culture. It argued for the importance of interdiscilpinarity and humanities approaches within the field of Death Studies and emphasised the existence of a pervasive concern with death and legacies of loss in contemporary culture despite death's continued positioning as something that is 'denied'.

My MA dissertation focused on the negotiation of national identity in post-devolution Welsh writing in English - a topic close to my heart as I am originally from Cymru/Wales. I am a rusty Cymraeg/Welsh speaker and aspiring Kernewek/Cornish speaker now that I live in Kernow/Cornwall. 

Teaching interests

For the Open University, I currently teach A233 Telling Stories: The Novel and Beyond; A112 Cultures; L101 English Language Studies; Y031 Access Arts and Humanities, and YXM130 Making your Learning Count (an inter and multidisciplinary reflective learniing module). I have previously taught on A105: Voices, Texts and Material Culture, and I currrently cluster manage two groups of A230 Reading and Studying Literature.

At the University of Bedfordshire, I was module lead for, wrote and taught: Documentary Dissertation; Youth Culture; Children, Young People and the Digital Age; Key Concepts (a module combining key skills for study with concepts and theory relevant to the degree pathway) and English Knowledge and Understanding, an English language and literature module for in-service teaching assistants completing degrees that covered English grammar, the conventions of Standard English, prose, drama and poetry. I was course leader for the BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies and Faculty Co-ordinator for Peer Assisted Learning in the Faculty of Education and Sport.

Impact and engagement

I am co-host of The Death Studies Podcast, a popular academic podcast sharing research, practice and knowledge in the field of Death Studies. Find out more at www.thedeathstudiespodcast.com 

External collaborations

Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bath's Centre for Death and Society (2020-2026)

Early Career Research Fellow at the Culture-Media-Text Research Centre in the University of Winchester's Faculty of Arts (2020-2022)

Managing Editor for Taylor and Francis academic journal Mortality, which promotes the interdisciplinary study of death and dying

Council member for the Association for the Study of Death and Society

Social media manager and guest editor for the open access journal Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural

External Examiner BA Professional and Creative Writing, University of Sulffolk at East Coast College (2023-2027)

External Examiner BA Professional and Creative Writing, University of Hull (2021-2024) and TEC Partnership (2022-2026)

External Examiner Foundation Certificate in Arts and Humanities Glasgow International College (2022-2026)

Centre Lead Moderator, Diploma Moderator, QAA Project Lead and Module Author for AIM Awards (Access to HE Diplima Provider) (2012-2018)

Publications

Mortality, moral regulation, and (im)moral entrepreneurship in My Favorite Murder (2023-05)
Green, Richard and Michael-Fox, Bethan
Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies ((Early access))


[Book Review] Hauntology: Ghosts of Futures Past by Merlin Coverley (2023)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
Mortality ((Early Access))


Death for Young Adult Audiences: Complexity, Complicity and Critique in Pretty Little Liars (2022-12)
Michael-Fox, Bethan and Visser, Renske
Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural(8) (pp. 20-46)


[Book Review] Death in Contemporary Popular Culture edited by Adriana Teodorescu and Michael Hviid Jacobsen (2022-12)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural, 8 (pp. 422-424)


[Review] HEAR ME… Voices from a Care Home during the Covid 19 Pandemic by Anna Mankee-Williams and Ruth Heholt (2022-12)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
The Revenant, 8 (pp. 425-429)


[Book Review] Man-Eating Monsters: Anthropocentrism and Popular Culture by Dina Khapaeva (Editor) (2022-12)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural(8) (pp. 430-432)


Death and the Screen: Editors’ Introduction (2022-11)
Michael-Fox, Bethan and Visser, Renske
Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural(8) (pp. 7-19)


[Book Review] Navigating miscarriage: social, medical and conceptual perspectives edited by Susie Kilshaw and Katie Berg (2022)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
Mortality, 27(1) (pp. 126-127)


[Book Review] Mediated Death by Johanna Sumiala, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2022 (2022)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
Mortality, 27(4) (pp. 519-520)


Under pressure: representations of student suicide in British documentary television (2021)
Calver, Kay and Michael-Fox, Bethan
Mortality, 26(4) (pp. 376-393)


What Do You Want? (2020-08-01)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
New Formations(100) (pp. 214-217)


[Book Review] Death, the Dead and Popular Culture, by Ruth Penfold-Mounce (2019-10-02)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
Mortality, 24(4) (pp. 488-489)


Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy: An Autoethnographic Dialogue Between Two Women (2019)
Michael-Fox, Bethan and Jarrett-Kerr, Adele
CULTIVATE The Feminist Journal of the Centre for Women's Studies, Article 4(2)


Transforming the Community, Transforming the Self: Young People, Social Action and community Leadership (2018)
Michael-Fox, Bethan and Hayden, Nikita
The Sheffield Student Journal for Sociology, Article 7(2)


Troubling Entanglements: Death, Loss and the Dead in and on Television (2024)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
In: Peterson, Jesse D.; Dekker, Natashe Lemos and Olson, Philip R. eds. Death's Social and Material Meaning Beyond the Human. Death and Culture
ISBN : 9781529230147 | Publisher : Bristol University Press (In Press)


Introduction to Difficult Death, Dying and the Dead in Media and Culture (2023-11-26)
Michael-Fox, Bethan; Coleclough, Sharon and Visser, Renske
In: Coleclough, Sharon; Michael-Fox, Bethan and Visser, Renske eds. Difficult Death, Dying and the Dead in Media and Culture (pp. 1-22)
ISBN : 978-3-031-40732-1 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan, Cham


(Un)Dead Together: Hospitality, Hauntology and the ‘Happily Ever After’ in American Horror Story (2023-11-14)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
In: Hand, Richard and O'Thomas, Mark eds. American Horror Story and Cult Television: Narratives, Histories and Discourses. Anthem Series on Television Studies (pp. 129-142)
ISBN : 9781785279348 | Publisher : Anthem Press | Published : London


Conclusion to Difficult Death, Dying, and the Dead in Media and Culture (2023-11)
Sharon, Coleclough; Michael-Fox, Bethan and Renske, Visser
In: Michael-Fox, Bethan; Sharon, Coleclough and Renske, Visser eds. Difficult Death, Dying and the Dead in Media and Culture (pp. 265-275)
ISBN : 978-3-031-40731-4 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan


Dark Comedies/Dark Universities: Negotiating the Neoliberal Institution in British Satirical Comedies The History Man (1981), A Very Peculiar Practice (1986-1988) and Campus (2011) (2023-07-25)
Michael-Fox, Bethan and Calver, Kay
In: Harmes, Marcus K. and Scully, Richard eds. Academia and Higher Learning in Popular Culture. Palgrave Studies in Science and Popular Culture (PSSPC) (pp. 197-214)
ISBN : 978-3-031-32349-2 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan


Practising Creative and Autobiographical Writing: Writing, Death and the Self (2022-10-10)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
In: Richard, Povall and Mat, Osmond eds. Borrowed Time: on death, dying & change (pp. 325-338)
ISBN : 978-0995719682 | Publisher : Art.Earth | Published : Dartington


Constructing the university student in British documentary television (2021-03-18)
Calver, Kay and Michael-Fox, Bethan
In: Brooks, Rachel and O'Shea, Sarah eds. Reimagining the Higher Education Student: Constructing and Contesting Identities (pp. 151-168)
ISBN : 9780367854171 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London


Sexual Encounters Between the Living and the (Un) dead in Popular Culture (2021-03)
Michael-Fox, Bethan and Coward-Gibbs, Matt
In: Gibson, Rebecca and Vanderveen, James M. eds. Gender, Supernatural Beings, and the Liminality of Death Monstrous Males/Fatal Females
ISBN : 978-1-7936-4135-9 | Publisher : Rowman and Littlefield | Published : New York


Dead Chatty: The Rise of the Articulate Undead in Popular Culture (2020-08-20)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
In: Coward-Gibbs, Matt ed. Death, Culture & Leisure: Playing Dead. Emerald Studies in Death and Culture (pp. 111-124)
ISBN : 978-1-83909-038-7 | Publisher : Emerald | Published : Bingley


The Return of the Dead: Fears and Anxieties Surrounding the Return of the Dead in Late Postmodern Culture (2019-01-04)
Michael, Bethan
In: Michael-Fox, Bethan; Dixon, Izabela and Doran, Selina E.M. eds. There's More to Fear than Fear Itself: Fears and Anxieties in the 21st Century (pp. 31-45)
ISBN : 978-1-84888-404-5 | Publisher : Inter-Disciplinary Press and Brill | Published : Oxford and Leiden


Social media, identity and democracy (2013-07-12)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
In: Charles, Alec ed. Media/Democracy: A Comparative Study
ISBN : 1-4438-4839-5 | Publisher : Cambridge Scholars Publishing | Published : Cambridge


Difficult Death, Dying and the Dead in Media and Culture (2023-11-26)
Coleclough, Sharon; Michael-Fox, Bethan and Visser, Renske eds.
ISBN : 978-3-031-40731-4 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan, Cham


There's More to Fear than Fear Itself: Fears and Anxieties in the 21st Century (2016)
Dixon, Izabela; Doran, Selina E.M. and Michael, Bethan eds.
ISBN : 978-1-84888-404-5 | Publisher : Inter-Disciplinary Press and Brill | Published : Oxford and Leiden


My favourite fictional academic (2024-01)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
Times Higher Education


Death and the Screen [Special Issue] (2022-12)
Michael-Fox, Bethan and Visser, Renske
Revenant Journal: Issue 8


Michael-Fox on Caswell, 'Dying Alone: Challenging Assumptions' (2022-09)
Michael-Fox, Bethan
H-Death, H-Net Reviews


The Death Studies Podcast [Podcast] (2021)
Michael-Fox, Bethan and Visser, Renske
The Death Studies Podcast