Public Lecture – Alexis Lothian (March 30, 2017)

Please join the Digital Studies Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop for

Queer Geek Methodologies: Social Justice Fandom as a Transformative Digital Humanities

Public talk by Dr. Alexis Lothian: Thursday March 30th, @ 3512 Haven Hall, 4-5:30pm

Mobilized in contexts ranging from the Movement for Black Lives to debates about safe spaces and freedom of speech on university campuses, digital demands for social justice are often expressed in creative forms that draw from popular media. This talk draws from early work on a new book project that explores the digital production of knowledge about gender, race, and disability through the intersection of social justice discourse and fan culture, exploring ways that the creative production of media fan subcultures has preceded and shaped the development of contemporary digital politics. Participants in creative fan communities have theorized their own knowledge production as in conversation with, yet distinct from both media industrial and academic models; drawing from these approaches enables us to understand “digital humanities” as a phenomenon that need not be contained within the bounds of academic disciplines. Through the creation, circulation, and reception of fan fiction, vids, and other creative works, fans have developed complex methodologies for social justice activism, bringing together concepts from feminist, queer, critical race, and disability studies with the intense affective investments that being a fan entails.

(Co-sponsored by the Digital Studies program and the Teaching and Technology Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop)



Alexis Lothian is Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies and Core Faculty in the Design Cultures and Creativity Program at University of Maryland College Park. Her scholarship is situated at the intersection of queer studies, speculative fiction, and social justice in digital culture. Her book Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility is under contract with NYU Press, and she has also published in venues that include Poetics TodayInternational Journal of Cultural Studies, Cinema Journal, Camera Obscura, Social Text Periscope, Journal of Digital Humanities, Extrapolation, and Ada: a Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. She is a founding member of the #transformDH digital humanities collective and the editorial team of the open access journal Transformative Works and Cultures, a member of the Tiptree Award motherboard, and co-chairs the academic track at the feminist science fiction convention WisCon.

Heidi Rae Cooley talk (March 9)


Please join the Digital Studies Workshop for a lecture by Heidi Rae Cooley (University of South Carolina)

“Sensing Place: Habit Change in the Connected Present”

When: March 9 2017, 4PM
Where: North Quad, Room 2435 (light refreshments will be provided)


Dr. Heidi Rae Cooley’s monograph Finding Augusta: Habit and Governance in the Digital Present (Dartmouth College Press 2014)–winner of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2015 Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award–considers routine practices that define the mobile present. Her recent work argues that because digital technologies set places, persons, things, and information in constant motion, habits of locatability and navigation assume decisive social and political importance. As such, Cooley argues that we should attend to the everyday habits of finding places, persons, and information that mobile media encourage and discourage. Cooley’s talk will expand on these issues and include a demo of the most recent version of Ward One App, a mobile app for iPhone that presents the unacknowledged history of urban renewal that made possible the expansion of the University of South Carolina at the expense of a predominately African American community.

DS Writing Group: Connectivity as Cultural Practice

The Digital Studies Workshop will host a Writing Group meeting to discuss the work-in-progress of our colleague Lia Wolock (Communication Studies), “Connectivity as Cultural Practice: Podcasting in the South Asian American Diaspora.”

When: Friday, Feb. 26th at 1:00pm
Where: 3773 Haven Hall

What (description of chapter):
Media in the South Asian American diaspora underwent a dramatic shift in the 2000s as a slew of second-generation-driven collaborative digital media projects were developed, complementing the dominant practice of recirculating content from the subcontinent. The latter implied an audience looking back to a distant homeland; the new projects promoted a self-conscious idea of being South Asian American. Drawing on scholarship from diaspora studies, digital media studies, and, in particular, the literature on broadcast talk, this paper examines a South Asian American podcast to reveal the constant, mundane, and collaborative labor that goes into the creation and management of connectivity, in this case informed by a diasporic sensibility of connection-in-dispersion.

RSVP to digitalstudiesworkshop (at) gmail (dot) com

DS Writing Group: Managing Online Game Communities

The Digital Studies Workshop will host a Writing Group meeting to discuss the work-in-progress of our colleague Amanda Cote (Communication Studies), “Managing Online Game Communities: Lessons from Past Attempts, Players’ Experiences, and Workplace Strategies.”

When: November 20, 2015 at 12pm
Where: 3512 Haven Hall

What (Description of chapter):

As part of a social justice and video game studies book project, this chapter aims to address one of the key problems facing video game culture today–the negativity and aggression inherent in online game spaces. Using interview data, previous research on sexual harassment responses, and case studies of some community management strategies game companies have employed, it shows the weaknesses inherent in many existing approaches, the ways in which effective change can occur, and what tools can help this happen. Overall, the goal is to create online game spaces that are based in positive interactions and open, equal access for diverse players.

Richard Grusin: Datamediation

When: October 29, 2015, 4:00-5:30pm
Where: 3222 Angell Hall

What: In 2010, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks made headlines with major internet releases of classified information, mainly from US government sources. Three years later Edward Snowden was declared a traitor when, with the help of three journalists, he exposed thousands of classified NSA documents.  These exposures of classified data have been lauded by open-access advocates and excoriated by US government officials. Discussion of these data dumps has largely focused on the question of their content, or? on the legitimacy of releasing confidential information to the globally networked public. In this talk I pursue a different tack, taking up the formal and affective qualities of their releases, the way they function as instances of what I call “datamediation.”  Their impact, I argue, derives as much from their perpetuation of an affectivity of exposure as from the content of what they reveal.

Richard Grusin, Datamediation