Portrait of Dr Benjamin Litherland Dr Benjamin Litherland

b.litherland@hud.ac.uk | 01484 478408


Ben joined the University of Huddersfield in 2014 after completing his MA and PhD in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex, both of which were funded by the AHRC. He is a cultural, media and sports theorist and historian, and his existing research portfolio demonstrates a diverse and interdisciplinary approach to the study of media, film and culture, spanning media history, political economy and policy, promotional cultures, celebrity studies, social media studies, and sports media, as well as intersections with theatre studies and sports history.

Research and Scholarship

Ben completed his PhD, The Field and the Stage: Pugilism, Combat Performance and Professional Wrestling, 1700 – 1980, at the University of Sussex in 2014. He is currently working towards completing a monograph based on this work. The work historically examines British professional wrestling, and in so doing examines histories of sport, the circus, fairgrounds, music hall and television. It posits that the study of professional wrestling can offer important interventions about the study of sport, celebrity and broadcasting technologies. 

He is currently working on projects about video game histories and fan communities, and his current research focus in game studies has emerged from my previous work on professional wrestling, particularly shared histories stemming from the fairground and the challenges that both videogames and professional wrestling pose to theoretical notions of play. Firstly, “You Aren’t Meant to Win”: Agon-Alea and Mechanical ‘Agency’ in Early Amusement Arcade Technologies’. This paper seeks to advance and problematize Roger Caillois’ notions of agon, alea and ilinx by historicizing the emergence of mechanical, electrical and digital play while also understanding how these histories inform our own relationships with technologies today. Secondly, I am working on the project Retro Gamers: Participation and Playing with the Past. This work will offer empirical consideration of the participatory cultures that circulate within retro gaming, and consider important questions about heritage, the afterlife of ‘redundant’ technologies, and the role of nostalgia and fandoms in contemporary digital material cultures.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Litherland, B (2018) Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences . London: Routledge.

Chard, H. and Litherland, B. (2018) ‘“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan: Stardom, Synergy and Field MigrationCinema Journal . ISSN 0009-7101


Litherland, B. and Wood, R. (2017) ‘Critical Feminist Hope: The Encounter of Neoliberalism and Popular Feminism in WWE 24: Women’s EvolutionFeminist Media Studies . ISSN 1468-0777


Litherland, B (2016) ‘The Bruising Business: Pugilism, Commercial Culture, and Celebrity, 1700 – 1750’. In: Sports and Physical Exercise in Early Modern Culture: New Perspectives on the History of Sports and Motion. : Routledge. pp. 109-124. ISBN 9781472411945


Georgiou, D. and Litherland, B. (2015) ‘Sport’s Relationship with Other Leisure Industries II -- Products, Imagery and SpectacleSport in History , 35 (3), pp. 323-334. ISSN 1746-0263

Litherland, B (2015) ‘Sporting Entertainments, Discarded Possibilities and the Case of Football as a Variety Sport, 1905 – 1906Sport in History , 35 (3), pp. 391-418. ISSN 1746-0263


Litherland, B (2014) ‘Breaking kayfabe is easy, cheap and never entertaining: Twitter rivalries in professional wrestlingCelebrity Studies , 5 (4), pp. 531-533. ISSN 1939-2397

Litherland, B (2014) ‘Sport’s Relationship with Other Leisure Industries – Sites of Interaction: Relocating Sports History within Leisure HistorySport in History , 34 (2), pp. 578-598. ISSN 1746-0263


Litherland, B (2012) ‘Selling Punches: Free Markets and Professional Wrestling in the UK, 1986 - 1993Journal of Historical Research in Marketing , 4 (4), pp. 578-598. ISSN 1755-750X


Ben’s work has appeared in world leading journals, and he has co-edited special editions for Sport in History. His MA and PhD were funded by the AHRC. He has served as blind peer reviewer for a number of books and articles.

He is also producer and presenter for the University of Huddersfield podcast series Fannish: A Participatory Cultures Podcast, and would be thrilled to hear from fan groups for future episodes.

Research Degree Supervision

Ben has supervised research about sport history, media history and fan communities, including cricket fandom and female board game players. He would be interested to hear from potential researchers in a range of popular cultural and media studies, including but not limited to:

  • Video Game Studies (particularly histories or participatory communities)
  • Sports History
  • Media History
  • Celebrity Studies

Teaching and Professional Activities

He is currently teaching The Development of Sport: Social, Historical and Cultural Perspectives (AFC 1601)

Ben has experience of teaching a range of topics related to media and cultural studies, including digital media, advertising, and popular culture. He is the module leader for Development of Sport: Social, Historical and Cultural Perspectives and Media Sociology and Media Culture. He also contributes to Politics, Society and Journalism, Digital Culture, and Critical Approaches to Media and Popular Culture.