Researcher biography

Dr Alex Bevan’s research focuses on the relationship among gender, technological change and space. How do new technologies inform the design and representation of space? How are media portrayals of women often used as a vehicle for addressing technological change and transformations in lived space? Her methodological approaches combine textual analysis (looking at media content) with more industry-facing, hands-on approaches to answering these questions. For example, she draws on industry interviews, industry conversations about designing space, and analyses of lived spaces.

Her first book The Aesthetics of TV Nostalgia (Bloomsbury, 2019) is an industry ethnography of the people designing sets and costumes for nostalgic US television programmes. She addresses how questions around gender play out on television alongside larger concerns around historical progress and regress that are attached to technological change. You can find her other publications in the areas of television representations of gender, the female body in narratives around nationhood, online archives and how they relate to gender, fashion history, surveillance, and creative work in television history in Adaptation, Television & New Media, Feminist Media Studies, Cinema Journal, Continuum, Surveillance & Society and Convergence.

Her current project turns to representations of gender violence in popular media and how these portrayals offer repeated patterns in the ways women, technology and space are presented. She looks at depictions of stranger violence and domestic violence, as well as safety discourses in technology and spatial design to discuss how the violated female body becomes attached to social understandings of public and private space and changes in communication technologies. The binary of domestic violence and stranger violence as it is constructed in media and design, hinders and derails public attention and policy. The way violence against women is represented in media tells us repeated stories around what spaces are safe, how women's movements should be trackable with technology, and whom is at fault or responsible. An ongoing and in depth analysis of these portrayals is pressing if we are to address gender violence in a holistic way that considers gender violence narratives as well as how media technology and spatial design are positioned as deterrents.

Her 2015 article, The National Body, Women and Mental Health in Homeland, draws connections among the distressed or unstable gendered body, space and digital technologies.  Dr Bevan argues that the representation of women’s mental health in the series and other examples of television acts as a stand-in for representing the elusive properties of territoriality, mobility across international borders, and conflict that typify digital era warfare. Media representations of women’s bodies, “reconstruct the sense of territory and bodies under surveillance to address topics like networks and security, which tend to elude representability. This is particularly true of digital-era warfare and surveillance, which defy spatial representability because they cannot be reduced to one event in a single time and place...The female body and mental health in millennial "quality television" vehicularize contemporary anxieties around definitions of citizenship in the war on terror”

In the School of Communication and Arts, Bevan teaches Multimedia (year one) and Digital Project (year three), which centre on embedding critical perspectives on contemporary and old media into creative and collaborative design processes. Working as producers, designers, marketers, and more within these projects, students experience the industries that are often invisible in creation and discussion of media, considering the forces and definitions of labour that impact their desired outputs.