24 April 2014

Dr Alexandra Wilson awarded British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship

Dr Alexandra Wilson, Reader in Music at Oxford Brookes, has been awarded one of the British Academy’s prestigious Mid-Career Fellowships with a total value of £130,000. The scheme, which places a strong emphasis upon public engagement, is highly competitive, with a success rate this year of under 15%.

Alexandra will be on leave during the 2014-15 academic year in order to work on a project entitled ‘Opera, Popular Culture and Cultural Categorisation in 1920s Britain’. The 1920s was a key decade when cultural hierarchies were codified that still endure today. While the relationship of literature to interwar debates about ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture has been extensively researched, the complex place of opera in such debates has not. By analysing a series of ‘encounters’ between opera and popular culture, Alexandra will demonstrate how opera defied easy categorisation as ‘highbrow’ or ‘middlebrow’.

Through a monograph and a series of related activities (including a conference, a recreation of a historical concert and a blog), Alexandra will illustrate how studying opera’s historical interactions with popular culture can challenge present-day assumptions that opera is and always has been elitist, stereotypes that inhibit potential new audiences from engaging with it.

For more information about Dr Wilson and her work at Oxford Brookes University, visit her staff profile page.