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Tara Woodyer

Tara Woodyer

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Portsmouth

I graduated from Royal Holloway (University of London) in 2003 with a BSc (Hons) in Geography. I then went on to complete an MA in Cultural Geography Research (Royal Holloway, 2004) before taking time out of academic study to work in the area of Special Educational Needs in secondary education. I then returned to Royal Holloway to complete a PhD in Human Geography (2009) and Postgraduate Certificate in Skills of Teaching to Inspire Learning (2006). Following completion of my PhD (funded by an ESRC Studentship awarded through the Open Interdisciplinary Competition), I joined the Department of Geography at the University of Exeter in 2009 as a Teaching Fellow. In 2011 I was awarded an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, which I completed at Exeter alongside a period as Visiting Scholar in the Centre for Children and Children Studies at Rutgers (Camden) in the US. Following completion of my postdoctoral studies, I joined Geography at the University of Portsmouth as a lecturer.

Teaching Responsibilities

I deliver social and cultural geography components of the undergraduate teaching in the department. I am the co-ordinator of two human geography units:

Foundations of Human Geography
Place: Invented, Experienced, Represented
I also contribute to the following co-taught units:

Geography, Skills and Prospects
Social Geography: Geographies of Wellbeing
Research Design and Practice
Human Geography: critique and discourse
Independent study
I jointly teach a European residential field course to Berlin explores urban geographies, more specifically landscapes of memory, subterranean geographies and gentrification.

I have contributed chapters to the following book series:

The Wiley-Blackwell Companions to Geography series
The Open University’s Childhood series
Ashgate’s Critical Geopolitics series
I have also contributed chapters to the following reference volumes:

Springer’s Geographies of Children and Young People series
CQ Press Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
Research

Ludic (or playful) Geographies

My interest in play extends to it role across the lifecourse, and coalesces around three key themes: the relation of play to the everyday, a reconfiguration of the politics of play toward an inwardly oriented vitality, and the ways in which play exceeds representation. I am particularly interested in the critical and ethical potential of playful ways of being and doing and how this can operate as an affirmative mode of critique.

Geographies of Material Sensibilities

My research examines how material geographies and sensuous geographies can inform each other in productive ways around questions of tactility, affect and relational agency. As a geographer, it is not only the material relations between people and things that are of concern to me, but also the imaginative spaces that can be configured through these relations and how these spaces are enacted in and of the ‘real’ spaces of the everyday.

Creative Methodologies

Influenced by my concern with material and sensuous geographies, I am interested in exploring ways of investigating non-cognitive and profoundly practical knowledges.

Current Research Projects

Ludic Geopolitics: children’s play, war toys and re-enchantment with the British military

Funding: ESRC Standard Grant (£492,850)

This project analyses military action figures for the purpose of examining a ‘ludic geopolitics’: how contemporary geopolitics are expressed and enacted through play. Studies of the ‘military entertainment complex’ have documented the entanglement of the military and toy industry, however work has focused on videogames in a US context. Despite the iconic status of traditional toys like Action Man, and the commercial success of the contemporary HM Armed Forces brand, action figures are yet to receive critical academic attention. Using an ethnographic approach, this project examines children’s embodied practices with the HMAF range. To contextualise and historicise the brand, this work is complemented by archival and museum-based research of the British action figure’s trajectory. This research critically reviews the status of children, mundane everyday practice and the more-than-textual in critical geopolitics, and makes a significant intervention in the interdisciplinary war toy debate by addressing war toys not just as ideological texts, but as objects in playful practice.

Please see my blog for more information about my research: http://materialsensibilities.wordpress.com/

Are toys becoming more violent ... and should we be worried?

Jun 03, 2016 08:21 am UTC| Insights & Views Life

A New Zealand study has reported that Lego has become more violent since the late 1970s. Debates about levels of violence within childrens media are not new, so is this significant? When we consider that Lego is famous for...

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