Dr Clare Birchall
Reader in Contemporary Culture
Tel +44 (0)20 7848 7091
Address Department of English
King's College London
Room 6.27, Virginia Woolf Building
London WC2B 6LE
Office hours document available here
Research interests and PhD supervision
Dr Clare Birchall joined King’s College London in 2012. Before arriving at King’s, she taught Cultural and Media Studies at the University of Kent and Middlesex University. With a first degree in English from Exeter University, Dr Birchall went on to study Critical Theory at Sussex University. Dr Birchall is the author of Shareveillance: The Dangers of Openly Sharing and Covertly Collecting Data, (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), Knowledge Goes Pop: From Conspiracy Theory to Gossip (Berg, 2006) and co-editor of New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory (Edinburgh University Press, 2007). She has also edited special issues of the journals Theory, Culture and Society (Dec 2011) and Cultural Studies (Jan 2007).
Her most recent research is concerned with the relationship between secrecy and transparency in the digital age and has given talks and keynote lectures in the UK, the EU and the US on this subject. Dr Birchall is part of an EU-COST funded research network on Conspiracy Theories and was part of an ESRC-funded series of research seminars on privacy issues entitled ‘DATA - PSST! Debating and Assessing Transparency Arrangements - Privacy, Security, Surveillance, Trust’.
Alongside more traditional scholarship, Dr Birchall has been involved with a number of digital projects. She was one of the editors for the online journal Culture Machine; is an editorial board member for the Open Humanities Press; and was part of the team behind the JISC-funded Living Books about Life series. Clare also collaboratively produced a series of online videos entitled Liquid Theory TV. Watch an episode on Gilles Deleuze’s idea of control societies; and an episode on secrecy and transparency. She also curated, with Peter Woodbridge, a series of podcasts from the KCL event, The Politics and Practices of Secrecy.
- Conspiracy theories
- Popular culture
- Cultural studies and cultural theory
- Visual culture
- Digital culture and datafication
Dr Birchall is currently supervising PhDs on a wide variety of topics including Spies and Surveillance in Early Modern Literature, Obama era representations of torture in film and television, and raced subjectivities in contemporary American television. She welcomes applications to study with her on any of the research interests outlined above.
- New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory, eds. Clare Birchall and Gary Hall (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006).
- ‘Between Transparency and Secrecy’, Theory, Culture & Society, Volume 28, Nos. 7-8, December 2011.
- ‘Aesthetics of the Secret’, New Formations 83, January 2015: 25-46.
Expertise and public engagement
Dr Birchall teaches modules on popular culture and cultural theory at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
As her research engages with topics that are timely and of general interest, Dr Birchall is invited to speak at public venues and galleries including, most recently, the Photographers’ Gallery (to coincide with its exhibition on conspiracy images), and Chatham House (for a debate on fake news). She is regularly interviewed by the media (such as The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC, Wired) and has written articles for newspapers and magazines: for example, on gossip for Tank Magazine; on contested photographic evidence for Photoworks; and on secrecy in a post-Snowden environment for The European.