Professor Anja Louis

Could you tell us about your contribution, Anja?Prof. Anja Louis

My outstanding contributions have been in academic citizenship and leadership (AC&L) as well as research and innovation (R&I) with significant contributions to teaching and learning (T&L). Here are a few examples.

As a world-leading interdisciplinary scholar, my impact within inter/national research communities has been the cross-fertilisation of distinct disciplines, focussing on the nexus between gender, law and popular culture. For example, my research has taken the work of an early twentieth-century Spanish feminist from oblivion to prominence. As a result of this international acclaim, Carmen de Burgos has become popularised in the TV drama Six Sisters, with storylines that are an authentic reimagination of Burgos’s feminism.

Operating comfortably across Sheffield Hallam’s colleges, I am contributing to research leadership in both the Department of Management (DoM) and the Centre for Culture, Media and Society (CCMS), where I am REF coordinator for UoA 34 (Communication, Cultural and Media Studies).

I have spearheaded our Transnational Popular Culture Research Cluster, connecting colleagues from three colleges including colleagues from practice-based disciplines, bringing together theory and practice.

At national level I serve as a member of UKRI’s Talent Panel College. This allows me to position humanities methodologies as an integral part of multi-disciplinary research, as well as promote the world-leading research conducted by modern universities.

My contributions to T&L have revolved around embedding interculturality as a core competence. This has included the introduction of intercultural knowledge and skills in management courses, induction sessions for students and staff, and collaborations with colleagues. I have also designed and delivered an Intercultural Innovation Programme for SMEs in the region.

What does it mean personally to you to be a professor at Hallam?

I obviously value the recognition of my sustained contributions, but most importantly it gives me the opportunity to show how important research is and why we cannot do without it. In that sense, my professorship will benefit the entire research community at all levels.

Tell us a bit about your career story so far.

Before becoming an academic I worked in the private sector in publishing as well as coaching and training. These experiences have been pivotal in developing my professional skills. You also learn to appreciate different kinds of achievement; everybody has to find their own form of success. Throughout my career my priorities have been – in no particular order – having fun, learning stuff, supporting people and showing them that ‘there must be better songs to sing’ (Educating Rita).

My first lecturing job was at American universities, Madrid, in the interspace between US higher education and Spanish cultural practice. I then spent my formative early-career years ‘up the road’, which gave me a solid academic grounding. As somebody who lives an intercultural life and whose research is interdisciplinary, I have had to learn to feel comfortable when negotiating multiple realities. This lived experience has served me well in working across boundaries and speaking different disciplinary languages.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some career advice, what would it be?

Three things:

  • Always look at the bright side of life.
  • Keep doing what you’re doing.
  • Je ne regrette rien.

What’s next? How do you want to further develop your contribution?

Building on existing successes, the professorship will allow me to become an effective Hallam ambassador in the new research landscape, both locally and globally. My cross-college leadership positions me well to make the disciplinary divisions more porous, which will, in turn, lead to multidisciplinary enquiries. People development is at the core of my professional identity, I’m currently contributing to our strategy and implementation plan to deliver sector-leading development programmes.

I’m also currently working on two books with Dr Abigail Loxham (Liverpool). These will, in time, become essential reference points in Transnational TV Studies and lead to further projects. Finally, intercultural competence will be imbedded in the Sheffield Business School curriculum and become an integral part of our consultancy offer.

Breathe in, breathe out, repeat.