Professor Jennifer Otter Bickerdike Releases Being Britney

10 November, 2021

Our very own Professor Jennifer Otter Bickerdike has released another highly acclaimed book. This time, Jennifer explores the life of pop icon Britney Spears.

Jennifer is a rock & roll cultural historian and author, working across music heritage, fandom, broadcast and academia. She is the author of several books on pop, rock, fandom and celebrity, most recently You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico (2021) and number-one bestseller Why Vinyl Matters: A Manifesto from Musicians and Fans (2017). Jennifer was also a literary consultant for Will Sergeant (Echo & the Bunnymen) with his best-selling debut memoir Bunnyman (2021).

Alongside her work as an author, she also is the co-founder of Moving the Needle. This non-profit organisation supports women in the UK music industry through their careers. Jennifer has achieved all this – plus, she’s a Global Music Ambassador and Professor for us here at BIMM Institute.

Being Britney: Pieces of a Modern Icon

Jennifer’s latest book, Being Britney: Pieces of a Modern Icon, explores the Britney behind the product and society that both created and failed her. Britney was once a modern pop superstar, but her story was clouded by society’s dark obsession with beauty, youth, and fame.

Part biography, part social history, Jennifer pieces together a collage of vignettes, stories, interviews, legends, and fan experiences and looks at Britney: the mother, the entrepreneur, the victim, the fighter, the entertainer and the enigma. Britney’s impact on modern society is undeniable with a career that has spanned five presidents and multiple reinventions. Her cultural impact surrounding feminism, celebrity, and mental health are unmatched.

Catching up with Professor Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

We sat down with Jennifer to find out why she chose to explore Britney’s life, how her work outside of BIMM Institute affects her teaching and her upcoming plans with a certain action sports legend.

Why did you want to explore the life of Britney?

Britney Spears is one of the most impactful cultural figures of the 21st century. Yet, she rarely gets acknowledgement for being the astute businesswoman, creative artist and unbreakable spirit. I wanted to contextualise her as the multi-faceted, complex and inspirational human she is – still thriving against seemingly all odds.

“Britney’s life also acts as a touchstone to explore wider issues.”

Because of her wide reach, Britney’s life also acts as a touchstone to explore wider issues such as the inherited misogyny in the media and the rupture between the parasocial relationships experienced between fan and performer. Not to mention the very real mental and emotional issues that come with fame and unrelenting global attention.

You’ve been a lecturer here, and you were instrumental in setting up the BA (Hons) Music Marketing, Media and Communication course. How does your career as a writer outside of BIMM Institute influence the learning and teaching of our students?

As an educator, it is crucial that I stay active in the area that I teach in, not just writing commercially, but the entire marketing, PR, promotion, radio, networking and social media efforts that go on behind the scenes to create a successful campaign for any book. The work outside of BIMM Institute has allowed me to bring so much more to BIMM, both with the connections I have made and my experiences in the ever-changing media economy.

What’s next for you?

As per usual, I have about a zillion possible projects in the air, but BIMM Institute is always my main focus. However, I can reveal that I am working with one of the most influential names in action sports to write his memoir. Rich Novak is the co-founder for Santa Cruz Skateboards, Independent Trucks and Thrasher Magazine and is literally a hero of mine since I can remember.

His story is incredible, starting from growing up during the depression to hanging out with Jack Kerouac and Andy Warhol and creating the entire surf and skate industry, which is now worth billions around the world.

You can purchase your copy of Being Britney: Pieces of a Modern Icon by Professor Jennifer Otter Bickerdike here or pick up a signed copy here. Also, check out more from our outstanding lecturers here.

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