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Richard Jean So – How #BLM Became a Story: Black Fiction in the Age of Platform Capitalism

February 22, 2023 @ 12:15 pm - 1:30 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 210


Event co-sponsored with Kresge College, Media and Society Lecture Series and the Departments of Literature and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.

New online writing platforms, like Wattpad, are massively popular (100 million registered users upload ~300,000 stories per day), and with their focus on user generated content and open access, promise to democratize contemporary cultural production. This talk explores how such platforms represent and accommodate Blackness, specifically examining the rise of a new genre category of writing: the #BLM story, over the past five years. Using a mixture of critical and computational methods, and drawing from critical race theory and platform studies, I ask: what textual features define this story, how do such features evolve over time, and how does this story differ from previous iterations of racial protest literature? Also: are such stories able to thrive on such platforms – what is their relationship to platform capitalism?

Prof. So in front of blurred backgroundRichard Jean So is associate professor of English and digital humanities at McGill University. He focuses on computational and data-driven approaches to contemporary literature and culture, with a particular interest in race and inequality. His most recent book is Redlining Culture: A Data History of Racial Inequality and Postwar Fiction, and he is at work on a new project called Fast Culture, Slow Justice: Race and Writing in the Platform Age. He has published in both academic journals like Critical Inquiry and PMLA and popular periodicals, such as The New York Times and The Atlantic.

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The Center for Cultural Studies hosts a weekly Wednesday colloquium featuring work by faculty and visitors. We gather at 12:00 PM, with presentations beginning at 12:15 PM.

Staff assistance is provided by The Humanities Institute.


February 22, 2023
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm


Humanities 1, Room 210
1156 high st
Santa cruz, CA 95060 United States
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