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I am Course Director for Human Geography at LSBU. My research, which informs my teaching, examines how relationships between identity and landscape are constructed and contested in popular music, film and painting. I have an interest in how place, memory and belonging are shaped by, and subsequently shape, different forms of creative practice. Case studies that I use to investigate such matters include Frank Sinatra, the Scottish trio The Blue Nile, and Canadian painter, Tom Thomson.
Prior to moving into academia, I was Director of the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year for more than a decade.
I joined LSBU in 2017, where I am the Course Director for, and a Senior Lecturer in, Human Geography. I also teach on the Urban and Environmental Planning, Tourism and Hospitality Management and Events and Entertainment Management degrees. Prior to LSBU, I taught in the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London, the Department of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at the University of Hull and the Department of Culture, Film and Media at the University of Nottingham. My undergraduate degree was in Geography, from the University of Manchester; I then completed an MLitt in Media Culture (Strathclyde University), an MA in Japanese Cultural Studies (Birkbeck, University of London) and a PhD in Cultural Geography (the University of Nottingham).
My research has a cultural and historical geographic emphasis and is focused on the UK, North America and Japan. It interrogates relationships between landscape, identity and representation, especially in relation to popular music and painting. Unifying my research is a recurring interest in how creative practice responds to and then subsequently shapes notions of place, memory and belonging across a variety of settings. Recently, I have developed a keen interest in geographical concerns surrounding early twentieth century Canadian landscape painting, a research passion that has resulted in me delivering papers at international conferences in London, Montreal and Grenoble.
My PhD, ‘Songs of the City: Geographies of Metropolitanism and Mobility in the Music of Frank Sinatra and The Blue Nile’, examined how those two acts' music and actions spoke to debates on urbanism, creativity, gender and representation. This doctoral research, with its close reading of creative texts and a foregrounding of the contexts from which they emerged, has informed my subsequent work, including ‘Underground, overground, wandering free: flânerie reimagined in print, on screen and on record’ (2014) and ‘Rethinking music geography through the mainstream: a geographical analysis of Frank Sinatra, music and travel’, which was published in Social & Cultural Geography in 2019.
My interest in connections between music, cities and mobility led to me being interviewed in 2019 by TRT World, the global Turkish TV network, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the the Sony Walkman. I have also been interviewed on music related matters by outlets including: CNN, BBC TV, BBC Radios 1,2,4,5 Live and 6 Music, the BBC World Service, Channel 4 News, Sky News, IRN, The Guardian, The Independent, Village Voice and Rolling Stone.
Postgraduate Research Supervision
|Ms Corinna Woolmer||Doctoral Research Project||PhD|
University of Nottingham
Birkbeck, University of London
University of Manchester
Reach and Impact
Walkman at 40 (Jul 2019)
Blog: How I Became a Music Geographer (Sep 2014)
The Guardian: A passion for Japanese pop makes studying fun for the Director of the Mercury Prize (Oct 2006)
BBC Oxford: Thom Yorke up for a Mercury (Jul 2006)
The Independent / Belfast Telegraph: The night of the unknowns (Jul 2008)
Gigwise: Speak to the Man Behind the Award (Aug 2008)
Music From Out There, In Here: 25 Years of the London Jazz Festival (Nov 2017)
Rethinking music geography through the mainstream: a geographical analysis of Frank Sinatra, music and travel (Sep 2017)
Historical Geography Research Group Newsletter: The HGRG's 40th Anniversary (Nov 2013)
Historical Geography Research Group Newsletter: Re-imagining the City – Shifting Time, Space and Place in Popular Music Ballads (Nov 2010)
Rethinking music geography through the mainstream: a geographical analysis of Frank Sinatra, music and travel
Milburn, K (2017). Rethinking music geography through the mainstream: a geographical analysis of Frank Sinatra, music and travel. Social & Cultural Geography. 20 (5), pp. 730-754. https://doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2017.1375550
Contemporary Music and Hull
Milburn, K (2017). Contemporary Music and Hull. in: Starkey, DS, Atkinson, DA, McDonagh, BN, McKeon, SM and Salter, ES (ed.) Hull: Culture, History, Place Liverpool Liverpool University Press.
Gig Going on London’s Periphery: Charting the Mainstream in the Margins
Milburn, K (2015). Gig Going on London’s Periphery: Charting the Mainstream in the Margins. Live Music Exchange.
Underground, overground, wandering free: Flânerie reimagined in print, on screen and on record
Milburn, K (2014). Underground, overground, wandering free: Flânerie reimagined in print, on screen and on record. in: Wrigley, R (ed.) The Flâneur Abroad Historical and International Perspectives Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Futurism and Musical Meaning in Synthesized Landscapes
Milburn, K (2013). Futurism and Musical Meaning in Synthesized Landscapes. Kaleidoscope. 5 (1), pp. 109-116.
Delhi Durbar Dress. In Derbyshire.
Milburn, K (2013). Delhi Durbar Dress. In Derbyshire. Research & Enterprise in Arts & Creative Technology.
Following the Flâneur: a Methodological and Textual Critique
Milburn, K (2010). Following the Flâneur: a Methodological and Textual Critique. Writing Cities. Nottingham 09 Jun 2009 London South Bank University.