What is the body online? How is it raced, classed, and gendered? Where is it located? And who speaks for it?
This seminar examines the raced and gendered stakes in the construction of online lives as disembodied, and provides an array of feminist frameworks for intersectional and transnational analyses of online engagement. By examining forms of media production, and the spread and mediation of (in)voluntary labor, we bring into focus the hidden body of online work.
We begin with the connections between colonial Britain, slavery in the Americas, and the raced and gendered body at the beginnings of media studies, to analyze the stakes of fantasizing online life as disembodied, through discourses of freedom or unlimited play. The internet facilitates current cross-lingual production and consumption of delocalized labor. We address this disproportionate labor specifically in terms of digital media as gendered and racialized conduits for information transmission, and the proliferation of delocalized feminized labor online. The online medium also permits communal responses from geographically separate communities, reclaiming marginalized and noncompliant transnational stances, positions, and perspectives from within popular media – to varying ethical results. Throughout the course we think through the insistence on a default whiteness implicit in the silencing of the body online, coming to grips with the persistent meaning-making of race as well as gender in the context of the online environments.
Because of time, we will not deal extensively with digital games (we approach them in weeks 1 and 9), or speculation in the capitalist sense. However, these topics fall within both new media studies and digital mediation, and students with these research interests should inquire about readings lists for a final paper. Practically speaking, beyond the acquisition of foundations in feminist new media studies, this course provides opportunities for digital object creation and analysis, and a discussion of practical cybersecurity protocols, as well as professionalization through the development of a new media project from concept through implementation and first draft of analysis, including peer review and mock conference presentation.