Whitney Phillips

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In the Spring of 2007, I graduated from Emerson College with an MFA in creative writing (fiction emphasis). In the Fall of 2008, I entered the University of Oregon’s English PhD program, and graduated in the summer of 2012. My research focuses on transgressive/subversive humor and mischief generally; my most recent project –my dissertation– examines trolling subculture(s) on 4chan and Facebook. I’m also interested in anti-fans, moral panics, culture jamming, play frames, reality television, and political humor.

Dissertation abstract:

Ethnographic in approach, my dissertation examines trolling, an online subculture devoted to meme creation and social disruption. Rather than framing trolling behaviors as fundamentally aberrant, I argue that trolls are agents of cultural digestion; they scour the landscape, repurpose the most exploitable material, then shove the resulting monstrosities into the faces of an unsuspecting populace.

Within the political and social context of the United States, the region to which I have restricted my focus, I argue that trolls on 4chan/b/ and Facebook perform a grotesque pantomime of a number of pervasive cultural logics, including masculine domination and white privilege. Additionally, I argue that the rhetorical and behavioral tactics used by trolls, including sensationalism, spectacle, and emotional exploitation, are homologous to tactics routinely deployed by American corporate media outlets. In short, trolling operates within existing systems, not in contrast to, immediately complicating knee-jerk condemnations of trolling behaviors.

Recent Content

ICA Panel Submission?

Call for Papers
Hi guys! X-posted from another list but wanted to see if anyone here might be interested! I'm trying to put together a panel/roundtable ( gender/feminist division ) for this year's ICA & wanted to see if anyone here was interested in submitting an abstract. My particular focus will be...
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