Dr Julia Bishop

School of Education

Research Associate

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+44 114 222 8156

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Dr Julia Bishop
School of Education
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

I am an experienced researcher with an academic background in Folklore Studies and Music. My research focuses on children’s play and expressive culture. I also specialize in the study of traditional singing and vernacular music in Britain, Ireland and Newfoundland.

I joined the School of Education in 2009 as a Research Associate working with Professor Jackie Marsh on the AHRC-funded project ‘Children’s Playground Songs and Games in the New Media Age’. Since then, I have worked with a number of colleagues in the School of Education, and with Helen Woolley in the Department of Landscape, as a part-time researcher on numerous projects relating to children’s play and expressive culture.

My interests are broad in scope but they centre on school-aged children’s peer cultures, from contemporary and historical perspectives.

As a co-director of the British Academy Project Childhoods and Play: The Iona and Peter Opie Archive, I help to develop infrastructure, resources and new directions for research into children’s play and folklore, and promote public engagement with the Opies’ collection. I am also a member of the University’s newly established Contemporary Folklore Research Centre.

Research interests

My research focuses on the folklore of school-aged children, their everyday expressive culture as it emerges in games, musical play, speech play, story-telling, customs and beliefs, particularly

  • Ways in which children draw on current events and digital and media cultures in their play
  • The multimodal and embodied dimensions of performance in musical play
  • Continuity and change in the history of children’s expressive culture and between children of diverse cultural backgrounds
  • Participatory and creative approaches to engaging children as researchers and interpreters of their own cultural worlds and social practices
  • The long-term preservation of information about children’s lives and experiences, especially sources created by children themselves.

My research has taken the form of ethnographic work with children as part of various projects, including play and social inclusion in school breaktimes, playground games and songs in the new media age, digital play in the early years, intergenerational perceptions and experiences of play drawing on archives and memories of play, and play during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I have also worked closely on several historical collections of children’s folklore, those of James T. R. Ritchie (Edinburgh), Norman Douglas (London), and Iona and Peter Opie (Britain). This research has included contextualising and supplementing them through tracing some of the original contributors and uncovering the collectors’ methods and motivations, as well as making these rich archival sources more accessible through cataloguing, online presentation, publication, and public engagement, including with young people today.



  • Beresin A & Bishop J (2023) Play in a Covid Frame Everyday Pandemic Creativity in a Time of Isolation. Open Book Publishers. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Bishop JC & Factor J (2020) The Lifework and Legacy of Iona and Peter Opie Research into Children’s Play. Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • (2020) Children, Technology and Play Research Report. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Marsh JA & Bishop JC (2014) Changing Play: Play, media and commercial culture from the 1950s to the present day. Maidenhead: Open University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Willett R, Richards C, Burn A, Marsh JA & Bishop JC (2013) Children, media and playground cultures: Ethnographic studies of school playtimes. Basingstoke: Palgrave. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Woolley HE, Armitage M, Bureau NC & Foundation JR (2005) Inclusion of disabled children in primary school playgrounds. Ncb. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Bishop JC & Curtis M (2001) Play Today in the Primary School Playground Life, Learning, and Creativity. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles



Professional activities and memberships

Media and blogs

2021     ‘Coronavirus Tag: Variants of a Virus Game’, https://play-observatory.com/blog/coronavirus-tag

2020     The Green Lady in the Toilets (BBC Radio 4) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000mj1m

2018     A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea (BBC Radio 4) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00017sj

I am on the editorial board of the International Journal of Play and am an experienced editor, proofreader, and transcriber of recorded music into music notation.