Jennifer Whitney has recently joined us in the Studio as a Research Fellow with the Digital Cultures Research Centre, exploring ideas around ‘The Automation of Everyday Life.’ She is co-editor of a collection of essays entitled Dolls Studies: The Many Meanings of Girls’ Toys and Play and we have invited her to share her thoughts on the phenomena that is Nicki Minaj, and her subversive, Barbie-esque super fans, 'the Barbz'. 

Jennifer says: Wide-eyed and voluptuous, hip hop sensation Nicki Minaj poses on the cover of her 2010 debut studio album, Pink Friday. Donned in a super-sleek pink wig, hot pink lipstick, shiny pink lace-up platform boots, and a shimmering corseted dress winged in tulle, the songstress sits propped, pouting for the camera. To accentuate this spectacle, the album image has been noticeably altered.  Minaj’s legs are elongated into caricature, her arms erased in their entirety. The reigning princess of hip hop gazes out at her fans as a hyperfeminine and hyperreal representation of a black Barbie doll.

Jennifer will trace this persona’s 5-year evolution, and consider its meaning to Minaj’s devoted fans. Jennifer will query how the digitization of the feminine body and the prominence of social media fansites and forums both challenge and redefine what we think about celebrity and fandom in popular culture. She is also currently writing a book about the role of the doll in the standardization of beauty.

(this talk was initially programmed for Fri 30 Oct and was postponed due to ill health - we are very happy to welcome Jennifer back to give this talk)

This Lunchtime Talk is part of Open Studio Friday, which takes place at the Studio every week.

Do you want to find out what is going on at the Pervasive Media Studio? Are you interested in meeting our residents, talking about a specific project or curious about pervasive media? Why not pack a sandwich and join us for one of our Lunchtime Talks and Open Studio Friday.

Lunchtime Talks are informal presentations by Studio residents and associates. They normally take place at 1pm on Friday, are free and open to everybody who’s interested in what we do.

After the Talk, we also invite you to stay with us for the afternoon to continue the conversation or work on your own projects. We provide chairs, tables, wireless and a great space. You bring what you need to work with (laptop/mobile). Our open afternoons close at 5pm.

Let us know if you’d like a tour of the space and we'll be happy to show you around just before the talk. Send an email to to book your place on a tour.