Our third Academic Archers conference took place on 17th February 2018 at BL – not Borchester Land, but the British Library, Euston, London, devoting the afternoon to talk about the ‘Women of Ambridge’, with VIP guest discussant, Charlotte Martin (actor) aka Dr Charlotte Connor (Research Psychologist), aka Ambridge’s Susan Carter.
24 papers from 28 presenters
1000+ online audience
The focus of the day was Women in Ambridge and presented in two parts. Part one, the Lives of Ambridge Women: ‘Does The Archers reflect contemporary values on gender, and sexuality?’, from Bill Pitt, social researcher; ‘I am woman, hear me roar - and now watch me play cricket!’, from Katharine Hoskyn, Auckland University of Technology; ‘Sow’s ears and silk purses: upcycling and The Archers’, from Madeleine Lefebvre is Chief Librarian of Ryerson University in Toronto; and ‘Strong or Silenced? The Under-Representation of Mental Health Problems in Ambridge's Women’, from Elizabeth Campion, University of Cambridge.
Part two was set to really get conversation flowing, focusing as it did on Women’s Talk? The first paper is ‘In praise of gossip – why tongue-wagging and the rumour mill are important in Ambridge’, from Louise Gillies, King’s College, London; the second, ‘Neighbourhood Watch: Gossip, Power and the Working-Class Matriarch in The Archers’, from Claire Mortimer, University of East Anglia. Discussant Charlotte Martin, as playing renowned Ambridge gossip, Susan Carter, was perfectly placed to reflect on the session and on the anticipated numerous mentions of Susan.
The day also saw hotly-debated sessions on rural planning and policy, especially in relation to housing, and a stand out paper from NATO advisor, James Armstrong, on the insurgent conditions Ambridge could be incubating.
Session One: Ambridgonomics - Planning and Economic Development in Ambridge
Part 1: The Housing Crisis in Borsetshire
- Rich Relatives or Ambridge Fairy? Patronage and expectation in Ambridge housing pathways, from Claire Astbury, Head of Housing Strategy & Development at Luton Borough Council
- Staying in the Spare Room: Social Connectedness and Household Co-residence in The Archers, from Paula Fomby, Research Associate Professor in the Survey Research Center and Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
Part 2: Placemaking and shaping
- Set in aspic?: Ambridge rural placemaking in a place of contested politics and conflicted identity, from Dr Cara Courage
- Can rural proofing make life in Ambridge better?, from Sally Shortall, Duke of Northumberland Professor of Rural Economy at Newcastle University and Anne Liddon, Science Communications Manager, Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University
Session Two: Wildcards
- Ambridgology and Counter-insurgency doctrine, from James Armstrong, political advisor to the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan
- Heavy Petting: An Examination of Metaphoric Relationships with Pets, from Rachel Daniels, Deputy Head and Group Leader, Barrington Library, Cranfield University, and Dr Annie Maddison Warren, Senior Lecturer in Information Systems, Centre for Electronic Warfare, Information and Cyber, Cranfield University
Session Three: Said and Unsaid
- Jim Lloyd: Quomodo Latine loqui facit? [how does he speak/pronounce Latin?], from Dr Catherine Sangster, ex BBC Pronunciation Unit
- Foucault, Freda Fry and the power of silent characters on the radio, from Rebecca Wood, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham in the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs
- Accent and identity in Ambridge, from Dr Rob Drummond, Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at Manchester Metropolitan University
Session Four: Wildcards
- Their Names Liveth Forevermore: Recreating the Ambridge War Memorial, from Dr Jessica Meyer, University of Leeds
- Unique Borsetshire climate or exemplary sun protection?, from Dr Nicola Boyle, Harlaxton College, Dr Tanya Bleiker, Clinical Vice President of the British Association of Dermatologists, Dr Nick Levell, dermatologist and Nina Goad.
- The Morris in The Archers – and The Archers in The Morris, from Helen Burrows, social worker.
Session Five: Ambridgistas - Women of Ambridge
Part 1: Lives of Ambridge Women
- Does The Archers reflect contemporary values on gender, and sexuality?, from Bill Pitt, social researcher
- ‘I am woman, hear me roar - and now watch me play cricket!’, from Katharine Hoskyn, Auckland University of Technology
- Sow’s ears and silk purses: upcycling and The Archers, from Madeleine Lefebvre is Chief Librarian of Ryerson University in Toronto
- Strong or Silenced? The Under-Representation of Mental Health Problems in Ambridge's Women, from Elizabeth Campion, University of Cambridge
Part 2: Women’s Talk?
- In praise of gossip – why tongue-wagging and the rumour mill are important in Ambridge, from Louise Gillies, King’s College, London
- Neighbourhood Watch: Gossip, Power and the Working-Class Matriarch in The Archers, from Claire Mortimer, University of East Anglia
- Discussant, Charlotte Martin (actor) aka Dr Charlotte Connor (Research Psychologist).
Session Six: Pot Pouri
- It’s Not Cricket: Fibbing in The Archers, from Dr Ruth Heilbronn and Dr Rosalind Janssen, University College London, Institute of Education
- Fear, fecklessness and flapjacks: imagining Ambridge’s offenders, from Charlotte Bilby, Reader in Criminology, Northumbria University
- Paths to the polling station at the village hall: Social networks and voting in Ambridge, from Dr Timothy Vercellotti, professor of political science, Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts
Closing remarks and prize-giving