Tuesday, March 31st, 2020
11:00 am – 12:00 noon
HBK South 2119
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, I argue 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. In this talk, I chart 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.
Catherine Steele is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland – College Park and was the first the Director of the Andrew W. Mellon funded African American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHum). She earned her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on race, gender, and media with a specific focus on African American culture and discourse in traditional and new media. She examines representations of marginalized communities in the media and how traditionally marginalized populations resist oppression and utilize online technology to create spaces of community. Dr. Steele’s research on the black blogosphere, digital discourses of resistance and digital black feminism have been published in such journals as Social Media + Society, Information, Communication and Society, Television and New Media. Her forthcoming book, Digital Black Feminism examines the relationship between black feminists and technology as a centuries-long gendered and racial project in the U.S. with implications on the future of both black feminist rhetoric and digital technology use.
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On March 24th, CASCI will have a reading group to discuss a few articles selected by Catherine Steele to help inform her presentation and discussion. The pre-reading is not necessary to attend her presentation. All are welcome to join us for the reading group.
We will be reading:
CASCI Group Activities:
2119 Hornbake Bldg. South Wing
11:00 am – 12:00 noon
This CASCI meetings are live streamed using WebEx.
Meeting number: 732 243 809
Host key: 551358
Link forwards to the longer meeting URL. You may need to install WebEx software.
Join by video system:
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Access code: 732 243 809