Natalie Diddams, Researching the voices of women in comedy in the context of the Fourth Wave Feminist movement, Arts & Hums

Natalie Diddams

Research Topic: A new materialist feminist study of the voices of women in comedy in the context of the Fourth Wave Feminist movement.

Summary of research project: My research aims to discover how women-led comedy is functioning in the contemporary moment as a way of understanding and disrupting gender norms, building solidarity and empowering women within the Fourth Wave feminist movement. Using the philosophical concept of Affect, I’m interested in how comedy can facilitate “the passage from one experiential state of body to another, implying an augmentation or diminution in that body’s capacity to act” (Deleuze & Guattari 1987, p2) and how far this is capable of affecting a real change in gender roles. The intensity of feeling that exists around women performing comedy suggests that it is a space with the potential for the “eventful working out of affective capacities” (Massumi 2015, p57).

What inspired you to choose this project? After writing and directing an adaptation of an ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes called Thesmophoriazusae, I became fascinated by the moments of intensity I was witnessing in rehearsals and workshops, when women seemed able to speak and move in ways they are not able to in everyday life.

What do you like most about being a researcher at Man Met? I love having the space and support to read and learn.

Please give two examples of ways in which your research has changed how you do things/view the world:
1) I now turn to philosophy to help me make sense of the world – I have realised that I don’t have to have all the answers!
2) I see the value of a learning community. I learn every day from my peers and sometimes a snatched conversation can alter everything.

A note to those considering a research degree: I spent the first 10 years of my career working extremely hard in an office, feeling like I was on a hamster wheel. It is so great to have this time to think, explore and stretch my ideas. It isn’t easy, but it is a wonderful challenge.

Find out more about our Grad School at http://www2.mmu.ac.uk/graduate-school/