Radical Media, Radical Culture: Technology and Social Change in 20th and 21st Century America

Alvino, Grace, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Levenson, Michael, English, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines how political and social movements in mid-to-late 20th and early 21st century America used media technologies to challenge the dominant culture and to make their ideas a part of, or present a viable alternative to, the mainstream. It focuses on three particular movements: the 1960s counterculture, the Riot Grrrls of the 1990s, and the white supremacist alt-right active in the 2010s. It shows how new and emerging, and often hybrid, media technologies were integral to all of these movements, from the New Journalism that evolved alongside the New Left to Riot Grrrls’ homemade zines to the alt-right’s composite language I refer to as “viral irony.” In so doing, this dissertation expands the definition of political participation, asking readers to consider how engagement with media technologies can constitute and be used to build political and cultural power.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
media technologies, cultural studies, media studies, New Journalism, Riot Grrrl, alt-right, viral irony
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