What new cultural forms are developing in the vast universe of the internet? How can observers and scholars keep up with the accelerated pace of human creativity online? And how do racial aesthetics, money, and power play out in internet cultures?
Subscribe to Public Books 101 on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or Pocket Casts to listen and to be notified when new episodes are released. Our RSS feed is available here.
View a list of discussion questions related to this episode here.
- Lauren Michele Jackson teaches in the departments of English and African American studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue… and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation (Beacon, 2019) and has published widely on digital media and popular culture.
- Richard Jean So is an assistant professor of English and cultural analytics at McGill University. He is the author of Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction (Columbia University Press, forthcoming) and Transpacific Community: America, China, and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network (Columbia University Press, 2016).
Annie Galvin, this season’s host, is the associate editor at Public Books and a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Virginia, and her academic and public writing has focused on contemporary global fiction, visual culture, gender and sexuality, and popular music.
Two influential scholars of digital culture explore the significance of internet-native forms like memes, viral videos, and fan-fiction websites as cultural artifacts. They consider what happens when people are given a place where anyone can say (almost) anything at any time. Lauren and Richard think critically about the assumption that the internet is making culture more democratic—in other words, easier to produce and to access—given that age-old practices like cultural appropriation continue to thrive online.
View a transcript of the episode here.
Mentioned in this episode
- Lauren’s book White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue… and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation (Beacon, 2019)
- (Read an excerpt, “The Hipster,” in Public Books)
- Richard’s book Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction (Columbia University Press, forthcoming)
- Internet platforms:
- Internet forms or objects:
- Richard’s article, coauthored with Edwin Roland, “Race and Distant Reading,” PMLA, vol. 135, no. 1 (2020).
- Internet creators:
- Scholars and writers:
- John Dewey, Hua Hsu
- Doreen St. Felix on Kayla Newman and “eyebrows on fleek”
- Joshua Lumpkin Green, “Digital Blackface: The Repackaging of the Black Masculine Image” (masters thesis, Miami University, 2006).
- On the hoax hashtag #EndFathersDay
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1895)
- Doreen St. Felix, “Black Teens Are Breaking the Internet and Seeing None of the Profits,” The Fader, December 3, 2015.
- Alex Balk, “My Advice to Young People,” The Awl, February 10, 2015.
- John Herrman’s reporting on technology and media for the New York Times
- José Van Dijk, The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media (Oxford University Press, 2013).
- Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us about Who We Really Are (Dey Street, 2017).
- Jonathan Sterne, “Thinking the Internet: Cultural Studies Versus the Millennium,” in Doing Internet Research: Critical Issues and Methods for Examining the Net, edited by Steve Jones (Sage, 1999), pp. 257–83.
This episode was produced by Annie Galvin and Jess Engebretson and is licensed under a Creative Commons-Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0).