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The Classificatory Reader: Relating to Others Through Digital Texts

  • Akane Kanai
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter explores the formation of a digital intimate public via the actions of readers in relating to texts. Drawing on the work of Michael Warner (Public Culture 14:49–50, 2002), I resituate reading and the digital literacy required as central to social participation in digital publics. Following the insights of Louise Rosenblatt (The Reader, the Text, the Poem, Southern Illinois, London, 1978), I suggest that reading in the WSWCM public is an imaginative social act, in which readers co-construct texts through ‘girlfriend’ knowledges derived from mediated and social cultures of femininity. I explain how Tumblr’s architectures blur the distinctions between reading and blogging, inviting a sameness based on shared imaginaries, knowledges and literacies that are conducive to public formation. Particularly due to the GIF and caption format of the texts, a high degree of reader involvement and knowledge is required. At the same time, competencies in classification are required as part of this digital literacy. Reading involves a ‘database logic’ (Manovich in The Language of New Media. MIT Press, Cambridge, 2001) in making meaning out of GIFs, sorting, distilling and instrumentalising situations, bodies and meanings in ways that often assume a disconnection from social and historical contexts. This classificatory competency departs from a presumed location of whiteness and middle class membership, in this public, meaning that not all readers can belong in the same way.

Keywords

Reading Digital literacy Public formation Tumblr Girlfriendship Whiteness GIFs 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akane Kanai
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Media, Film and JournalismMonash UniversityCaulfieldAustralia

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