Katherine Newstead


Telephone: 07921927638 

College: College of Humanities

My PhD topic developed from my research into girlhood in the Disney fairy tale, which I undertook for my Masters degree in Film Studies, in 2011/12.

My area of research is interdisciplinary; merging studies of ageing and gerontology, feminist discourse, and studies on the fairy tale genre; specifically within cinema.

The aim of my PhD is to analyse the portrayal of older women in contemporary Western cinema, using the fairy tale genre as a case study. This analysis will identify how popular representations of ageing are infused with cultural issues of power, identity construction, and value. As a genre that is both old yet familiar, being constantly reinvented, the fairy tale offers a way of tracing the changes in popular cultural representations.  

With the demographic changes in the age profile of Western populations in the early twenty-first century, research into issues of ageing is emerging in a range of disciplines. The importance of these issues is indicated by the New Dynamics of Ageing Research strategy, currently being addressed by five of the UK's Research Councils. This strategy aims to improve the lives of the older generation, by acknowledging and understanding how the shifts in areas such as biology, culture, and technology may affect them.  At the University of Exeter, 'Lifestyle and Social Change' is one of the new research themes of the HASS strategy. A central theme of the 'new dynamics' of ageing strategy is analysing the complex ways that culture, and cultural representations produce, inflect, or shape societal understanding of ageing.   

Therefore, particular emphasis will be placed on the issues of ageing within a wider societal context, and how these are made visible via the fairy tale film.