Irmi Karl is a media theorist. She has led the development of the rich media-related course provision at Brighton.
Her teaching and research interests cover aspects of information and communications technologies in everyday life. She has written on issues in media of gender and sexuality, class and popular culture, including reality television.
Irmi is a founder member of the LGBT Queer LIfe research hub and the BSSN Sexualities Network.
Irmi Karl is subject area leader for Media Studies. Before entering British academia in the 1990s, Karl trained and then practiced as a newspaper journalist in Germany for over six years. Prior to joining the University of Brighton in 1999, she studied Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex, and worked as a researcher and academic consultant on various ICT related projects funded by the European Commission and The Henley Centre for Forecasting.
Irmi Karl has helped to develop a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate media-related courses. Her teaching and research interests include ICTs and everyday life, gender and sexuality, as well as the class politics of popular media forms. She is a founding member of the Brighton and Sussex Sexualities Research Network (BSSN). This network promotes inter-disciplinary research under the umbrella of sexualities and fosters ties with local LGBT communities and projects. She is a founder member of the LGBT Queer Life research hub, designed to generate and disseminate collaborative academic and community-based projects in the areas of contemporary sexualities and gender research.
Irmi Karl’s work engages with questions of sexuality and gender in relation to the consumption of (new) information and communication technologies (ICTs), as well as the sexual and class politics of popular media forms (such as reality television). She is interested in the interrelationship between media, technology and society and specializes in exploring the ways in which information and communication technologies are integrated into people’s everyday lives. Drawing on feminist and queer theory perspectives, questions of sexuality and gender in relation to media and ICT consumption are of particular concern.
Irmi has conducted research into lesbian and gay households and their perceptions of (new) media technologies as well as undertaken a longitudinal ethnographic study into women-headed households, mapping technological change against social change, with an emphasis on destabilizing taken for granted notions of the hetero/homo, masculine/feminine binary in relation to ICTs use. Researching non-normative (non-nuclear) or alternative families and households opens up more general questions around forms of living and kinship in the 21st century, shifting perceptions around the home and the public/private divide, ICTs, mobility and virtuality as well as the (mediated) cultural geographies of gender and sexuality.
With regards to popular culture and media forms, her research is concerned with the impact of consumerism and post-feminist ideologies as well as audience agency and the role of technology in the processes of mediation and lived experiences. Taking reality television as a prime site for investigation, she has examined the classed discourses of cosmetic surgery programming and is currently probing the limits of lesbian and queer representations on lifestyle television.
PhD Supervision: Irmi Karl welcomes research proposals addressing topics such as gender, sexuality and media consumption, class and popular culture, and, more specifically, reality television.
Jenzen, Olu and Karl, Irmgard (2014) Make, share, care: social media and LGBTQ youth engagement Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, 5. ISSN 2325-0496
Browne, Katherine, Harper, Catherine, Jenzen, Olu, Karl, Irmgard and O'Donnell, Katherine (2013) Revolting bodies: desiring lesbians: an introduction Journal of Lesbian Studies, 17 (3-4). pp. 209-214. ISSN 1089-4160
Karl, Irmgard (2009) Technology and women's lives: queering media ethnography Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 9 (1). ISSN 1547-4348
Doyle, Julie and Karl, Irmgard (2008) Shame on You: Cosmetic Surgery and Class Transformation in '10 Years Younger’ In: Palmer, Gareth, ed. The Big Reveal: Lifestyle TV. Ashgate, Aldershot, UK, pp. 83-99. ISBN 9780754674306
Karl, Irmgard (2007) Class observations: 'intimate' technologies and the poetics of reality TV Fast Capitalism, 2 (2). ISSN 1930-014X
Karl, Irmgard (2007) Domesticating the lesbian? Queer strategies and technologies of home-making M/C Journal, 10 (4). ISSN 1441-2616
Karl, Irmgard (2007) On-/offline: gender, sexuality, and the techno-politics of everyday life In: O'Riordan, K. and Phillips, D.J., eds. Queers online: media technology and sexuality. Peter Lang Publishing, New York, USA, pp. 45-64. ISBN 9780820486314
Karl, Irmgard (2007) Shame on you: discourses of health, class and gender in the promotion of cosmetic surgery within popular media In: Harfield, T. and Berry, D., eds. Inter-disciplinary studies in health, illness and disease. Inter-disciplinary Press. ISBN 1904710409
Karl, Irmgard, Bassett, C.J., Hartmann, M. and Hills, M. (2001) In the company of strangers: mobile phones and the conception of space In: Munt, S., ed. Technospaces: inside the new media. Continuum, London, UK, pp. 205-223. ISBN 0826450040