About the Talk
The discussion of black digital life often centers on digital activism with many recent offerings focused on the Black Lives Matter movement. While authors have rightly pointed out that black women were the original creators of the hashtag and hashtags like #SayHerName to counter the male narrative, black men still regularly stand in for studies of blackness online. Recent work has also focused almost exclusively on Twitter as a site for exploration. While oral cultural practices like signifying neatly map to this microblogging site, Steele argues the study of Twitter should be informed by platforms that came before, often laying the groundwork for black online interactive patterns. The activity of blogging in the early 2000s provided a landscape for digital black feminists to work out principles for a new era by utilizing an alternate public sphere and capitalizing on practices of oral communication that have long been significant to African American culture. The digital affords the possibility to shift between rhetorical moves to advocate emancipatory freedom and re-conceptualize emancipation within a digital framework. The digital also provides a new mechanism to create black feminist rhetoric that moves between enclaved, satellite, and counterpublic discourse to contend with the matrix of domination. Steele charts five rhetorical moves used by Black feminist bloggers to show how digital black feminists make use of the digital to effect change on black feminism. They include the prioritization of agency, the right to self-identify, centralization non-gender binary spaces of discourse, the creation of complicated allegiances, and the insertion of a dialectic of self and community interests. Through these rhetorical moves, digital Black feminists prioritize an intentional conflation of the professional and personal and wrestle publicly with a complicated relationship to capitalism.
To RSVP for the Feb. 24 CDCS Workshop with Catherine Knight Steele, please email CDCS@asc.upenn.edu by Feb. 17.
About the Speaker
Catherine Knight Steele is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland. Dr. Steele is a scholar of race, gender and media with specific focus on African American culture and discourse in traditional and new media. Her research has appeared in the Howard Journal of Communications and the book The Intersectional Internet (S.U. Noble and B. Tynes, Eds.) Her doctoral dissertation, Digital Barbershops, focused heavily on the black blogosphere and the politics of online counterpublics. She is currently working on a monograph about digital black feminism and new media technologies. Dr. Steele also serves as the first Project Director for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded College of Arts and Humanities grant, Synergies Among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture.
About the CDCS Workshop Series
The Center on Digital Culture and Society's Workshop Series features works in progress from digital media studies scholars. CDCS Workshops offer relatively informal, collective spaces for discussion, collaboration, and feedback, with the goal of nurturing qualitative research on digital media and communication technologies. Workshop speakers present new projects at varying stages of development and solicit feedback and questions from workshop attendees. Attendees who RSVP receive copies of the material to be workshopped in advance of the session.