Annelot Prins is pursuing her PhD in American Studies at the Graduate School of North American Studies at the Freie Universität, Berlin. Her research is grounded in Feminist Theory and Celebrity Studies, and mostly focuses on American popular culture. She is especially interested in the relation between popular music and social justice. Previous work consisted of an intersectional analysis of Beyoncé’s star text, and she has engaged representations of white female sexuality in the oeuvres of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus in her work, leading to publications and media appearances in these areas. Currently, she is doing audience research, interviewing US-millennials about celebrity feminism in popular music. Her dissertation analyzes the rise of celebrity feminism in contemporary US-American pop music.
Freie Universität, Berlin
PhD student in American Cultural Studies (Oct. 2017 - Present)
Dissertation: "Celebrity Feminism in Contemporary Popular Music 2013-2018"
First supervisor: Prof. Dr. Frank Kelleter
Committee members: Prof. Rosalind Gill and Dr. Jo Littler
Teaching experience: undergraduate course "Celebrity Feminism in Popular Music" (Winter 2018)
Visiting scholar in the American Studies program at Harvard University under supervision of Robert Reid-Pharr (Feb. 2020 – Apr. 2020).
University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam
RMA: Research Master in Literary Studies (Sep. 2013 - Dec. 2016)
Thesis: "Female Sexuality in Popular Music: A comparative analysis of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus" (8.0/A-)
Supervisor: Dr. Murat Aydemir
GPA: 8.4 (A)
University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam
MA: Master in Comparative Cultural Analysis (Sep. 2014 - Oct. 2016)
Thesis: "Imagining Beyoncé: A case study in female superstardom" (8.5/A)
Supervisor: Dr. Jaap Kooijman
GPA: 8.7 (A)
HONORS AND AWARDS
- 2016: Receiver of Horizonfonds (travel grant)
- 2016: Receiver of Graeve Franckenfonds (travel grant)
- 2017-2020: Receiver of DAAD scholarship (scholarship)
The Celebrity Feminist: Consumption and critique in US-American popular culture (2013-) (Dissertationsprojekt)
Dissertation in Kultur
First supervisor: Prof. Frank Kelleter
Second supervisor: Prof. Rosalind Gill
Third supervisor: Dr. Jo Littler
How should the tension between consumption and critique in American celebrity culture be reimagined in the 21st century? In formulating an answer to this overarching question, this dissertation centers on American millennial consumption of pop feminism (2013-). Millennial consumers form a central hub in the webs that connect feminism and capitalist structures, Whiteness and ‘wokeness’, and celebrity as a key aspirational structure in neoliberal societies. I interviewed American millennials from different socio-economic backgrounds to trace the discursive formations that flow through their consumer practices, grounding my understanding of how celebrity feminism in popular music is experienced. These interviews showcase the entanglement of activism, critical theory, and consumption in the current mediatized moment. Taking the celebrity feminist as a site of articulation, this dissertation reflects on the tension between theoretical critiques that focus on structures of oppression and analyses that learn from the audiences inhabiting these structures. Reflecting on conceptual tools and their limits, I show navigations of the imbrication between theory and consumption to be central to our understanding of politics today.
The contemporary conjuncture is characterized by a crisis in thinking about identity politics and inequality. Saturated with neoliberal narratives of post-raciality and post-feminism, the American media landscape perpetuates classless meritocratic frameworks of individual responsibility that are relatively devoid of (economic) power relations. At the same time, meritocracy becomes harder and harder to sell, due to decreasing social mobility and increasing economic inequality. The failure of these neoliberal and meritocratic narratives to describe reality or make it inhabitable do not seem to make them any less worthy of continued investment. In short, the material, discursive and affective regimes that shape the current moment are highly contradictory. I argue that the neoliberal re-branding of feminism, with the celebrity feminist as its most visible spokesperson, is a key site for the cognitive dissonance that comes into being in the negotiation of post-narratives and lived experience to find expression. For example, while many interviewees mentioned the structural nature of inequality, they simultaneously claimed individualized notions of agency placing them outside the structures they deftly critique.
I argue this cognitive dissonance is redirected into affective assemblies. With the concept of affective assemblies, I emphasize two things. First, I use the term assembly to draw attention to the ongoing and unfinished interplay of multiple and dynamic factors determining the meanings and uses of contemporary celebrity feminism. Assembly here signifies the incessant coming together of different actors who are trying to find out how to act in concert. Second, I use affective to foreground an updated version of Raymond Williams’ ‘structures of feeling’, which he uses to analyze not fully articulated, yet emergent, ways of thinking that differ from the status quo. Through affective assemblies, I approach the current moment in terms of dissonance. Celebrity feminism’s affective assemblies struggle with the clash between individual investments in the current system and larger moral commitments to social justice. On the one hand, millennial consumers of celebrity feminism are not able to let go of the progressive conviction that a more just society is right around the corner. On the other hand, they are constantly confronted with its continuing absence. This conflict and its navigation by consumers becomes a site of methodological reflection in my work.
By bringing in audience articulations of popular feminism and drawing out the feminist subjectivities assigned to the popular music celebrity, this thesis charts the paradoxical present, in which the failures of neoliberal capitalism are often fought with further investments in neoliberal rationalities. The millennial stake in popular feminism shows a need for new ways of thinking about the interplay between identity, subjectivity, everyday politics, and power relations. Celebrity feminism is not an answer to unequal power relations, but rather a site where the dilemmas of a current moment deeply shaped by these relations finds expression. The concept of the affective assembly provides a means to combine audience research with analyses of the cultural moment informed by critique, without privileging either of these methods. My audience research shows that millennials are both theoretically informed about, and preformed by, larger discourses of inequality that they then seamlessly connect to personal experience. At the same time, a cultural studies approach to celebrity feminism draws out how much of contemporary identity politics has rid itself of structural power analyses in favor of an individualized focus. This often self-aware imbrication is what marks the current moment as new, with social media creating a feedback loop that makes it almost impossible to tell an act of consumption apart from an act of critique. My dissertation uses the rich site of celebrity feminism to show why and how theory and consumption interact today in ways that make them virtually indistinguishable.
Celebrity, Feminism, Class, Gender, "Race", Affect, Neoliberalism, Audiences, Millennialism, Social Media
- Prins, Annelot. "The affect of activism: On the politics of pain and pleasure" De Witte Raaf / The White Raven, in preparation. In Dutch.
- Prins, Annelot. "Contemporary histories: Loneliness, solitude and COVID-19" De Nederlandse Boekengids / The Dutch Review of Books, in preparation. In Dutch.
- Prins, Annelot, and Taylor Myers, "The deformed musical forms of Beyoncé’s celebrity activism" in Finding Art, Activism and Community with Beyoncé in Troubled Times. Eds. Kristin McGee and Christina Baade. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press. Forthcoming.
- Prins, Annelot. "The deafening silence after the #MeToo moment" De Nederlandse Boekengids / The Dutch Review of Books. Forthcoming. In Dutch.
- Prins, Annelot. “Book Review: #MeToo, Weinstein and feminism” Feminist Media Studies. October 2020. Online first. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14680777.2020.1837452
- Prins, Annelot. "Analysing celebrity politics from Obama to Trump" Celebrity Studies. vol. 11, no. 4, 2020: 504-507. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19392397.2020.1834225
- Prins, Annelot. "Live-archiving the crisis: Instagram, cultural studies and times of collapse" European Journal of Cultural Studies. vol. 23, no. 6, 2020: 1046-1053. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1367549420944519
- Prins, Annelot. "From Awkward Teen Girl to Aryan Goddess Meme: Taylor Swift and the Hijacking of Star Texts" Celebrity Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2020, pp. 144-148. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19392397.2020.1704431
- Prins, Annelot. "Is Everyone A Feminist Yet?" De Nederlandse Boekengids / The Dutch Review of Books, vol. 5, no. 5, October/November 2019: 13-16. In Dutch. https://www.nederlandseboekengids.com/20190920-annelot-prins/
- Prins, Annelot. "A Short History of Sunglasses" De Witte Raaf / The White Raven, vol. 201, September/October 2019. In Dutch. https://www.dewitteraaf.be/artikel/detail/nl/4676
- Prins, Annelot. "Book Review: Lady Gaga and The Sociology of Fame: The Rise of a Pop Star in an Age of Celebrity" Cultural Sociology, vol. 12, no. 4, 2018: 573-574. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1749975518796779
- Prins, Annelot. "The Mask of Cool" De Nederlandse Boekengids / The Dutch Review of Books, April/May 2018, 22-24. In Dutch. https://www.nederlandseboekengids.com/2018-2-annelot-prins/
- Prins, Annelot, "'Feeling myself': Female Masturbation in Contemporary Popular Music" Tijdschrift Vooys, vol. 35, no. 1/2, 2017: 38-49. In Dutch. https://www.academia.edu/34739692/Feeling_Myself_Masturberende_vrouwen_in_contemporaine_popmuziek
- Prins, Annelot, "'Who run the world?': Feminism and commodification in Beyoncé’s star text" Digressions, vol. 2, n. 1, 2017: 29-44. http://www.digressions.nl/wp-content/uploads/Annelot-Prins.pdf
RELEVANT ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE
- Social media editor for the European Journal of Cultural Studies (Jan. 2020-present)
- Peer reviewer for Journal of Fandom Studies, Celebrity Studies, Visual Studies, and the American Behavioral Scientist
Guest lectures and public speaking experience related to research:
“Analyzing Celebrity Politics”, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, October 2020.
“Panel: Intersectional Representation In The Industry: What are the experiences behind being a womxn, person of color, LGBTQ+, transgender and/or gender-nonconforming individual in an industry that has been largely managed by white, hetero, cis-gender men marketing artistry for profit in a capitalist, white-supremacist, patriarchal society? Moderator: Aja Burrell Wood. Panelists: Tonya Butler, Beth Denisch, Jazelynn Goudy, Annelot Prins”, International Womxn’s Day Teach-In at Berklee, Berklee, Boston, United States of America, March 2020.
“'I learn From Beyoncé': Whiteness, Wokeness and the Cultural Work of Black Superstardom." Lecture prepared for the Ringvorlesung 2019/20 "Popular Culture, Media, and Politics in the US," John. F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany, November 2019.
“Roundtable Discussion: Prof Richard Dyer (Kings College London), Prof Dominic Janes (Keele University), & Annelot Prins (Freie Universität Berlin)", Queer Celebrity Conference, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom, June 2019.
"(In)visible Colors: Taylor Swift and Shifting Structures of Whiteness”, University of Maine, Orono, United States, October 2018.
“The Beyoncé Debate”, Center for Media and Celebrity Studies, Barcelona, Spain, July 2016.
“What Would Beyoncé Do?”, Felix Meritis, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, April 2016.
“Celebrity Feminism”, Mark Our Words, Utrecht, the Netherlands, January 2016.
Research presentations at the following international conferences:
- "Beyond the star text: Researching contemporary celebrity as an affective assembly" 13th Biennial Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference, University of Lisbon, Portugal, July 2020. [Postponed due to COVID-19]
"Keep the Critique, Bring in the Audience: A Case for the Analysis of Celebrity as an Affective Assembly" 5th International Celebrity Studies Conference: Transformations in Celebrity Culture, Winchester University, United Kingdom, June 2020. [Canceled due to COVID-19]
"Woke white girls make some noise! The performance of popular white millennial womanhood" 5th International Celebrity Studies Conference: Transformations in Celebrity Culture, Winchester University, United Kingdom, June 2020. [Canceled due to COVID-19]
"Somewhere between safe and brave spaces: Fighting sexualized harassment and violence in German academia" Diversity Affects | Troubling Institutions, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany, May 2020. [Postponed due to COVID-19]
"'I follow her work a lot more because of her story': Kesha in the #MeToo era of 'no-choice feminism" Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Annual Conference, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, United States, April 2020. [Canceled due to COVID-19]
“Is your favorite celebrity an intersectional feminist?” Doing Gender/Intersectional Research in International Contexts, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany, June 2019. (Poster presentation)
"'I learn from Beyoncé': White Millennial Women's Investment in The Persona of Beyoncé" Persona Studies Conference, Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom, June 2019.
"'This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things': The Alt-Right Audiences of Taylor Swift" The German Association for American Studies, Universitat Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, June 2019.
"Songs To Hold On To: Affective Experiences of Musical Empowerment in Popular Feminism" Gender and Affect, Freie Universitat Berlin, Berlin, Germany, May 2019.
"'Look What You Made Me Do!' Aspirational Work in Taylor Swift's Online Fandom" Young Women's Digital Lives, The Open University, London, United Kingdom, March 2019
"How Much Do You Want To Meet Taylor Swift? The Cruel Optimism of Online Fan Labor" Affect and Social Media #4, University of East London, London, United Kingdom, October 2018.
"Pop Feminism and Feminist Feelings: Theorizing the Experience of Empowerment Through Music" Fan Studies Network Conference, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom, June 2018.
"From Awkward Teen Girl to Aryan Goddess Meme: Taylor Swift and White Womanhood" 4th International Celebrity Studies Conference: Desecrating Celebrity, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy, June 2018.
"'Now Let's Get In Formation': The Deformed Musical Forms of Beyoncé's Celebrity Activism" Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association Annual Conference, J.W. Marriott, Indianapolis, United States, March 2018.
"'Now Let's Get In Formation': The Deformed Musical Forms of Beyoncé's Celebrity Activism" Southwest Popular / American Culture Association Conference, Hyatt Regency Hotel and Conference Center, Albuquerque, United States, February 2018.
"Beyoncé Feminism" Bridging Gaps: What are the media, publicists and celebrities selling?, Center for Media and Celebrity Studies, Barcelona, Spain, July 2016.
"Celebrity Feminism: A Case Study of Beyoncé" 3rd International Celebrity Studies Conference: Authenticating Celebrity, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July 2016.
"'Who run the world?': Feminism and commodification in Beyoncé’s star text" 22nd American Studies Day, Free University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, June 2016.
"Performing Feminisms: A Case Study of Beyoncé" 21st Century Feminist Praxes, Ontologies and Materialities, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, May 2016.
"Beyoncé Feminisms?" (In)visible Lines: The Sibéal Annual Conference, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, November 2015.
"The Queen Bey of Independent Women – Bow Down Bitches. A Case Study of Celebrity Feminism" Feminist Theory and Music 13: Feminism and Black Critical Praxis in an Age of Scarcity, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, the United States of America, August 2015.
Organizational assistance for the following conferences:
- Is Everyone A Feminist Yet?, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany, July 2020. [Postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19]
- The Legacy of Motown: Music, History, Celebrity, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany, May 2020. [Postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19]
- GSNAS Annual Conference: Follow the Yellow Brick Road? Challenging Approaches to Progress in North America, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, June 2018.
- 3rd International Celebrity Studies Conference: Authenticating Celebrity, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July 2016.
- International conference on narrative, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, June 2016