So far, Lafrance has given a workshop for graduate students on his chosen topic, which resulted in a vivid debate and more suggestions of violent videos for his research.
He has also presented his preliminary findings to an audience of fellow scholars at RAI. “I knew I was going to get a very rigorous ride, and I did, and it has made my work so much stronger,” Lafrance says.
As a visiting researcher at RAI, Lafrance has been invited to attend various academic workshops and presentations on relevant subjects, such as militarization in the United States. “That has been really interesting for me, because of course, I look at masculinity in popular culture, and masculinity, especially in an American context, is strongly linked to the military.”
The institute often hosts high-level speakers from the United States, as well. Lafrance has so far attended a talk by Mike Rogers from the United States House of Representatives, who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and another by Christopher Bancroft Burnham, former United States under secretary of state, and former under secretary general of the United Nations, on American foreign policy in the 21st century.
“Having access to people of this caliber is really incredible, regardless of how one feels about their politics,” he says.
Thus far, Lafrance says his return to Oxford has been, in a word, “perfect.” Being immersed in the RAI’s environment of academic collaboration and support has inspired him to continue pushing his research into uncharted waters.
“My colleagues at the RAI, they really want to talk and engage, and be supportive and helpful. That's what we do for one another: we suggest references and we question each other… Whenever I have little conceptual obstacles in front of me, I've got a cast of amazing people to help me think it through.”
And of course, Lafrance couldn’t be happier to be doing what he loves in a place that’s so familiar to him — the ancient and distinguished university where he last spent time as a student in 2006. “The whole city is set up for people who need long periods of time to think, write and research,” he says. “It’s a really exquisite environment in which to get work done.”
Read Marc Lafrance’s take on the importance of Lady Gaga.