Lover of Memes
The deets: Assistant Professor of Digital Communication & New Media. Coordinator of the Communication Program at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.
PhD in Communication, Culture & Media from Drexel University.
Current scoop: Beginning August, 2019, I will spend the upcoming academic year with the Digital Culture Program at the University of Bergen in Norway as their resident Fulbright U.S. Scholar. I will conduct a study titled: “The Semiotics of Digital Protest: Your Resistance Has Become Meme.” The goal of this project is to build on my earlier research, Technologies of Visibility (2016), and my current research, Everyday Activism (2019), by studying the digital spaces used to create, disseminate, and curate messages of resistance. This project aims to explore the impact of US centric platforms on non-American activism online. Specifically, I will examine the aesthetics of Scandinavian online digital protest culture, and compare and contrast protest posts made for local and international target audiences.
The big picture: My research broadly focuses on the role of digital technology in social and political activism. The groups I study partake in activism without necessarily defining themselves as activists. I frame this work as everyday activism, focusing on the mundane acts of users endeavoring to create social awareness or change through often seemingly inconsequential, unorganized participation. The affordances – and restraints – of digital platforms embedded in surveillance capitalism structure users to behave in ways that are vital precursors for social change without necessarily being disobedient per se. Their online activities are not necessarily civil disobedience in the traditional sense, but may include the flouting of social rules and norms that remains permissible in the scope of the privately owned public spaces that make up our political sphere.
What I’m writing: My publications highlight the importance of digital technologies for bisexual visibility, explorations into digital activism and its discontents, a rebuttal of slacktivism, the social disobedience practiced by mammary activists on digital platforms, and the role of technology in the “meme-ification” of activism. My book, Everyday Activism: Technologies of Resistance with coauthor Mathias Klang, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in December 2019.
How I’m sharing: In addition to traditional academic publications, the outcomes of my research are presented in activist workshops, academic conferences, and incorporated into the classroom.
I have presented my findings around the world, including an invited talk at Sweden’s International Science Festival (Vetenskapsfestivalen). In 2016 I was invited to the White House to participate in a community briefing focused on the cultural and material needs of the American bisexual community as a part of the White House’s LGBT initiative under the Obama administration.
Looking ahead: While in Bergen I hope to regularly publish a research blog on the semiotics of digital protest. Check back for more!
Last updated June 4, 2019