Current Issue

Volume 28, Number 12 - 4 December 2023
View All Issues
Spears on Twitter
This month: December 2023
You want a piece of me: Britney Spears as a case study on the prominence of hegemonic tales and subversive stories in online media
This work seeks to understand how hegemonic and subversive (counter-hegemonic) stories about gender and control are constructed across and between media platforms. To do so, this study examines how American singer-songwriter Britney Spears is framed in stories that tabloid journalists, Wikipedia editors, and Twitter users tell about her online. Using Spears’ portrayal as a case study, an understanding of how subversive stories develop prominence online, and how platform affordances and incentives can encourage or discourage their emergence. Using computational methods and critical readings of key articles, it was found that Twitter, as a source of the #FreeBritney hashtag, continually supported counter-hegemonic narratives during periods of visibility, while both the tabloid publication TMZ and Wikipedia lagged in their adoption of the same narratives.
Also this month
Stand with the Banned: Credibility bias and the Fetishization of the “Classic” Banned Books on Etsy
Recent efforts at book banning in the United States’ schools and libraries have produced a number of material iterations of anti-banning sentiment in online retail spaces like Etsy. Most scholarship on banned books comes from an education or library science perspective, with little book or media studies scholarship focused on how banned books are represented in online spaces. This paper examines the top 50 results from searching “banned books” in Etsy to understand how merchandise that engages with the topic visually represents banned books. Banned book imagery often ignores more recent banned books, especially those featuring LGBTQ+ characters, in favor of older or more “classic” banned books. Banned book merchandise under examination here, like other social media reading spaces such as Instagram and BookTube, participates in glorifying the physical book as an object of credibility, despite the role digital reading devices play as both objects of banning and as a means of resistance. The results of this study show ongoing disconnect between the perceived threat and the realities of book banning, as well as a desire to maintain an aesthetic of the “classic” as under attack.