Our guest on 3-Minutes-with an Academic is Dr. Jennifer Whitney.

Catch-up on the last edition with Dr. Hattie Earle.

Dr. Jennifer Whitney‘s research and teaching areas include Critical and Cultural Theory, Visual and Popular Cultures, Critical Beauty Studies, and Intersectional Feminist Theory.

In particular, she works on topics to do with girlhood and femininity. Dr. Whitney is the co-editor of the book Dolls Studies with Miriam Forman-Brunell, and has just finished an article about child beauty pageants!

Dr. Jennifer Whitney lives in Cardiff, Wales and works at two institutions. She teaches at the Cardiff School of Art and Design at Cardiff Metropolitan University and supervises dissertations in the Fashion Department at the University of South Wales.

Being a “stylish academic” …

Being a stylish academic means being able to express myself creatively in the way that I dress at work as well as being able to teach and research fashion and beauty cultures – both with enthusiasm and with critical analysis.

Screen Personality closest to my style

I often dress in vintage prep styles with a touch of California boho or punky edge to make things a little more playful.

I love the off-duty looks of women artists, writers, and celebrities from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s; Joan Didion’s sunglasses alone are so effortlessly chic!

An unforgettable academic experience

I attended the Politics of Beauty Summer School and Conference at Cambridge University in 2016.

It was the first time that I felt welcomed into a community of like-minded academics doing rigorous work on a subject I’m so passionate about. There was such a spirit of generosity, and I made lifelong friends – it really did change the course of my research and my career objectives.

What I find challenging about dressing in academia is

Being from California, I feel like I’m best at spring/summer style. But, by the time things warm up in the UK, the teaching calendar is coming to a close!

What I enjoy about dressing in academia is...

I get so much inspiration from colleagues and students.

Since joining teams in the Creative Industries, I’ve been able to become more experimental, which is super fun, and I am now surrounded by folks who are passionate about fashion and design. They are fantastic resources; they know about everything from sustainable and zero-waste design to innovations in wearable tech.

The one thing I love about academia is …

I am always learning from both students and colleagues. I love the collaborative spirit of teaching and research.

If I could change one thing about the culture of academia  – it would be…

While I like collaborating with industry, I would change the corporatisation of the university that often seems to go with it – and the corresponding precarity of academic staff.

This has been extremely difficult to navigate.

My typical day begins with …

Coffee and a walk to work.

My favourite city I have visited to attend a conference is ….

Aarhus, Denmark. I’m interested in cycle culture, so I was in my element!

If I could get away to go on a holiday, top on my list would be …


The one item in my wardrobe I can’t do without is …

My now-vintage Levi’s denim Jacket.

I’ve had it for almost 20 years, and it’s still a go-to piece. It’s so versatile, especially for the changeable weather in Wales.

What I do in my spare time/to relax

I like being outdoors – hiking, cycling, skating – and I’m always happy to chill out with a nice cup of coffee and a good biography.