My Little Pony: A Transcultural Phenomenon

  • my little pony dancing with i-pod

    28th Jun 2014
    Grand Parade

The recent popularity of ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ has reignited interest in this well-known franchise of children’s culture. Remaining strongly associated with a series of toys aimed at young female consumers, the reimagined show has attracted positive praise for its style, stories, and characterisation, critical discussion of the constructions of femininity the series promotes, and – unprecedented for an animated series primarily aimed at girls – a large and dedicated adult male fan base. MLPFIM raises a range of issues relating to contemporary children’s television, the blurring of entertainment and advertising, transformations across long-running media franchises, the politics of pink culture, adult appropriation of children’s media, fandom and its relationship with the culture industries.

This one day conference seeks to place the 30 year long ‘My Little Pony’ series within critical, cultural and creative contexts, exploring the brand from a multi-disciplinary range of perspectives. 

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twenty first century children’s media, film and television
ancillary products and merchandise
transformations across MLP generations
the political economy of media franchises
animation history
fandom and critical engagements with pleasure
feminist approaches to children’s toy and television industries
identity politics of gender, race, class, sexuality and national identity
nostalgia and autobiography
collections and collecting
queer ponies
fantasy and mythology
convergence culture
the ethics of children's media
popular culture and cultural value
anthropomorphosis and animal studies

Enquiries to Ewan Kirkland at


0930-1000: Opening Remarks

1000-1100: Ponies and Creative Practices
•    Joe Luna (University of Sussex): My Little Poetry: MLP and Contemporary Verse Practice
•    Katriina Heljakka (University of Turku, Finland): Photoplaying with Ponies: Capturing Collections, Customization and Cuteness on Camera

1100-1130: Coffee and Tea

1130-1330: Fandom
•    Claire Burdfield (University of Nottingham): Finding the Accidental Audience
•    Tara McAssey (National University of Ireland): Creating Identity and Curating Archives – An Anthropological Account of the ‘Brony’ Community
•    Dawn Firth-Godbehere (Goldsmiths, University of London): Beyond Subcultures and Fan Cultures – Bronies: The Men who Love My Little Pony
•    Mikko Hautakangas (Research Centre COMET, University of Tampere): The Brony Masculinity – It’s OK to be Joyful?

1330-1430: Lunch

1430-1600: Ponies, Gender, History
•    Louise Fitzgerald (University of Brighton): Riding Side-Saddle, Black Beauty and My Little Ponies – Interrogating the Politics of Shared Histories Between Women and the Equidae
•    Nicola Smith (University of Brighton): "Putting young England in the Saddle": Pony Fiction in the 1930s
•    Alice Godayol: Are the My Little Pony series only a marketing tool? MLPFiM and representations of gender

1600-1615: Coffee and Tea

1615-1745: Mythology, Psychology, Religion
•    Andrew Crome (University of Manchester): Rarity Has Tea with Jesus – Christian Bronies and the Exploration of Religion in Imagined Worlds
•    Jen Cresswell (University of Edinburgh): The Classical World is 20% Cooler –  Greco-Roman Pegasi in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
•    Sam Crook (Northumbria University) Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle and the Power of Introverts in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

1745-1800: Closing Remarks

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The conference fee is £30 and includes refreshments and lunch.

Book here