Research

In my current book project, based on my dissertation, I confront the term “convergence,” which crystallizes a matrix of current cultural phenomena, from corporate consolidation to technical integration to user participation, that are transforming the relationship between media producers and consumers. I analyze the tensions emerging at the crossroads of television and the internet by taking queer female labor in the guise of online fan discussion, fiction, music videos, and community-building as an artifact that is exemplary of this formation. My research is oriented to queer fan practices for both theoretical and historical reasons: convergence is concerned with queer dynamics like managing categories and transgressing boundaries; and more concretely my approach to such social, economic, legal, and ideological negotiations through the lens of fandom comes at a time when the media industry is itself reorienting to privilege fan engagement. Thus, along with broadening the scope of fan studies, my work intervenes in the disciplines of television and internet studies more generally through a unique critical theoretical perspective, constructing a framework drawn from political economy, media theory, queer and feminist theory, and cultural studies. The core of my manuscript consists of three case studies of lesbian fan activity around the television programs Battlestar Galactica, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and The L Word, with particular attention to three intertwined registers: the screen texts still defined as television episodes; the transmedia texts that include online tie-ins, promotions, and gossip; and the fan texts produced by interpretive communities. These evaluations allow me to explore disputes over technologies of reproduction (figured by the hybrid), politics of representation (figured by the closet), and commodification of identity (figured by the network), positioning fan economies as a contested axis of immaterial labor in late capitalism. My project maps the queer interventions and global connections generated by a predominantly female fan subculture, arguing that the technologies, discourses, and subjectivities of convergence pose structural challenges to systems of ownership, circulation, and value that corporate media are struggling to reincorporate. Scrutinizing the increasingly intermediated configuration of television and the internet is, I maintain, essential to understanding these and other antagonisms shaping media evolution today.