Nasty Women and Digital Hygiene

The Department of English Language and Literature and HeForShe are proud to announce “Nasty Women and Digital Hygiene: Feminism, Risk, and the Purity Myths of Technoculture,” a talk by Dr. Elizabeth Losh. The talk will occur Nov. 11, 2pm, in PAS 2438. All are welcome to attend.

Nasty Women and Digital Hygiene: Feminism, Risk, and the Purity Myths of Technoculture”

The rise of the alt-right movement has legitimated new practices of online misogyny and online racism, particularly in the context of the virulent rhetoric of the 2016 American presidential campaign.  This talk – delivered just after the conclusion of the U.S. election from the perspective of a voter from a country increasingly divided politically by gender – examines initiatives developed by feminist collectives to offer open access resources to the public to counter online violence, to nurture safe spaces for creative and civic expression with computational media on distributed networks, and to foster critical thinking about the material, embodied, affective, situated, and labor-intensive conditions of new media.  It examines the fantasy of digital hygiene in the context of beliefs in both digital community and digital immunity and explores the futility of attempting to sanitize computational mess, promiscuity, and interdependence.

Elizabeth Losh is an Associate Professor of English and American Studies at William and Mary with a specialization in New Media Ecologies.  Before coming to William and Mary, she directed the Culture, Art, and Technology Program at the University of California, San Diego.  She is a core member and former co-facilitator of the feminist technology collective FemTechNet, which offers a Distributed Open Collaborative Course, steering committee member of HASTAC, and part of the organizing team of The Selfie Course.  She is the is the author of Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes (MIT Press, 2009) and The War on Learning: Gaining Ground in the Digital University (MIT Press, 2014). She is the co-author of the comic book textbook Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013) with Jonathan Alexander.  She is also the author of a forthcoming edited collection MOOCs and Their Afterlives: Experiments in Scale and Access in Higher Education from the University of Chicago Press. In addition to recent work on selfies and hashtag activism, she has also written a number of frequently cited essays about communities that produce, consume, and circulate online video, videogames, digital photographs, text postings, and programming code. The diverse range of subject matter analyzed in her scholarship has included coming out videos on YouTube, videogame fan films created by immigrants, combat footage from soldiers in Iraq shot on mobile devices, video evidence created for social media sites by protesters on the Mavi Marmara, remix videos from the Arab Spring, the use of Twitter and Facebook by Indian activists working for women’s rights after the Delhi rape case, and the use of Instagram by anti-government activists in Ukraine.  Much of this body of work concerns the legitimation of political institutions through visual evidence, representations of war and violence in global news, and discourses about human rights.  This work has appeared in edited collections from MIT Press, Routledge, University of Chicago, Minnesota, Oxford, Continuum, and many other presses.



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