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Dr Anna Bull

Senior Lecturer

Anna Bull


My research interests include class and gender inequalities in classical music, character education and policy networks, and staff sexual misconduct in higher education.

My monograph on classical music, class and gender, entitled 'Class, Control, and Classical Music' is currently under contract with Oxford University Press. This is based on my PhD research, carried out at Goldsmiths, University of London, under the supervision of Professors Bev Skeggs and Les Back. Out of this research, I have also published an article on the gendered authority of the conductor in The Sociological Review, and I have made a short film based on this article together with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. I have also published a co-authored article with Christina Scharff, was published in Cultural Sociology, looking at the unspoken ways in which classical music is valued over other genres. I was a guest on BBC Radio 4's sociology programme, Thinking Allowed, in December 2017, discussing this research. I have a book chapter forthcoming in 'The Classical Music Industry' looking at how gender and class shape young people's pathways through classical music, and have published a critical discussion of El Sistema-inspired music education programmes in the UK, in a special issue of the Journal of Action, Criticism and Theory for Music Education. I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Cultural Analysis and Social Change.

Since 2015 I have been organising a series of events with the music education sector, in partnership with Trinity College London and The Purcell School, to discuss the issue of abuse in music education, following findings emerging from my PhD research about bullying in music education.

I am a co-founder of The 1752 Group, a lobby group and consultancy set up to address the issue of staff-student sexual harassment in higher education We are working with the National Union of Students on a national survey examining students' perceptions of professional boundaries in higher education and experiences of sexual misconduct from academic staff, and this data will be reported on in early 2018. On behalf of The 1752 Group I am leading on one strand of a HEFCE Catalyst fund project at the University of Portsmouth, which involves a policy audit of current HE policies in relation to staff sexual misconduct, and qualitative research with survivors of sexual misconduct from university staff. This will form the basis of a report to be published in May 2018. I am also Principle Investigator on a British Academy Small Grant funded project running from Jan-Dec 2018 which examines what higher education can learn from workplace sexual harassment policies.

The final strand of my research interests is around character education and policy networks. This emerged from my research in classical music education, as classical music often draws on discourses of social benefits to justify its importance. With Kim Allen from the University of Leeds, I am co-authoring a special issue of Sociological Research Online on character education, and contributing a co-authored article which examines how the UK character education agenda has been shaped through funding from US neoconservative philanthropy.

At the University of Portsmouth, I am a member of the Athena Swan self-assessment team, and I also sit on the Speak Up, Step Up working group which is working on sexual harassment, bullying and hate crime across the university. My teaching responsibilities include unit coordination for the first year unit Class, Inequality and the Lifecourse. I also contribute to teaching on the second year unit, Sociology of the Body, and teach on first year units Studying Society and Research Design and Analysis. I teach sociology of music through film on first year unit Observing Society. I am also the sociology lead for employability.

Before starting at the University of Portsmouth, I worked with Jonathan Gross and Nick Wilson on a project looking at everyday creativity in the UK. This involved an evaluation of the BBC campaign 'Get Creative', launched in February 2015, as well as looking at the ways in which people in Britain engage in creative and cultural practices. I completed a BA and M.Phil in social and political sciences at Cambridge, working with Professor Georgina Born on cultures of classical music as well as a masters dissertation on political music in the UK. I have taught at the University of Cambridge, Goldsmiths College, and Anglia Ruskin University.

My previous career was as a pianist and cellist in New Zealand and Scotland.  My portfolio of work involved performing with ensembles such as the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, teaching at the University of Strathclyde, and education workshops for Scottish Opera.

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