Michele White is a Professor in the Department of Communication at Tulane University. She teaches Internet and new media studies, film and television studies, visual culture studies, science fiction and technology literature, gender and queer theory, and critical race and postcolonial studies. Buy It Now: Lessons from eBay was recently published by Duke University Press and Producing Women: The Internet, Traditional Femininity, Queerness, and Creativity was published by Routledge.
MIT Press published The Body and the Screen: Theories of Internet Spectatorship, in 2006. In it she considers how spectatorial positions are produced and structured by Internet settings. Internet sites and computer interfaces address the spectator, depict the kinds of bodies that are expected to engage, model the views and experiences that can be accessed, and promise spectatorial control for some individuals. White poses hybrid critical models and suggests how theories of art viewing, authorship, feminist and psychoanalytic film, gender and queer studies, hypertext, photographic reproductions, and postcolonial and critical race studies offer ways to understand Internet sites and spectatorship. The critical models presented in this book are intended to support ongoing new media research and production strategies. More information about The Body and the Screen and a sample chapter are available at the MIT web site.
Her recent articles include: “How ‘your hands LOOK’ and ‘WHAT THEY CAN DO’: #ManicureMonday, Twitter, and Useful Media,” Feminist Media Histories 1, 2 (2015); “Concerns about Being Visible and Expressions of Pleasure: Women’s Internet Wedding Forum Considerations of Boudoir Photography Sessions,” Interstitial: A Journal of Modern Culture and Events 1, 1 (2013); “The Dirt on ‘Trash the Dress’ Resistance: Photographers, Brides, and the Mess of Post-wedding Imaging Sessions,” Critical Studies in Media Communication (2012); “Dirty Brides and Internet Settings: The Affective Pleasures and Troubles with Trash the Dress Photography Sessions,” South Atlantic Quarterly (2011); “Engaged with eBay: How Heterosexual Unions and Traditional Gender Roles Are Rendered by the Site and Members,” Feminist Media Studies (2011); “Babies Who Touch You: Reborn Dolls, Artists, and the Emotive Display of Bodies on eBay,” in Political Emotions (2010); “Listing eBay Masculinity: Erotic Exchanges and Regulation in ‘Gay’ and ‘Gay Interest’ Underwear and Swimwear Auctions,” Journal of Gender Studies (2010); “What a Mess: eBay’s Narratives about Personalization, Heterosexuality, and Disordered Homes,” Journal of Consumer Culture (2010).
Buy It Now: Lessons from eBay was published by Duke University Press in 2012. In Buy It Now, White analyzes how eBay promises to fulfill all desires, deliver any object, and provide an equitable community but produces normative gender, racial, and sexuality positions and a setting in which people are expected to work without economic compensation. In a related manner, commercial producers, designers, and products often present technologies as unbiased tools while providing clear messages about the identity of individuals who are invited to engage. White provides detailed studies of how buyers, sellers, and viewers work within and subvert the English language site--eBay.com. By analyzing how eBay functions, she conceptualizes and critiques some of the key structuring features of Internet settings, such as addresses to everyone, founding myths, conceptions of community, category systems, and brand and fan attachments. She also introduces a number of underutilized theories for engaging with Internet settings, including the critical concepts of configuring the user, brand communities, citizen-consumers, sexual citizenship, and gendered organizational logic. eBay therefore works as a theoretical model to think about and further advance Internet and new media studies. Additional information can be found at the Duke University Press site.
From these concerns, she developed Producing Women: The Internet, Traditional Femininity, Queerness, and Creativity, which was published by Routledge in 2015. White considers how women employ traditional femininity to foreground, profit from, and challenge their positions. She uses the term “producing” to emphasize the interconnected ways women and femininity are constructed and should be studied. Society fabricates women’s position by associating them with domesticity and other feminine attributes. Women also produce themselves as subjects by blogging about their own interests. They form vital production cultures by communicating about their creative activities, working, and deploying technologies. She concentrates on the social construction of mothers, brides, and cosmetic cultures because these are some of the key practices through which women and femininity are produced. For instance, contemporary culture uses weddings and the figure of the bride to identify women’s appropriate roles and life courses. By emphasizing such women’s production cultures as nail polish manufacturing and beauty blogging, she indicates that there are other sites and methods of studying new media practices. Additional information can be found at the Routledge site and on the book's Facebook page.
In her new book project, which is titled Touch/Screen/Theory, she foregrounds the ways touch screens and associated texts produce tactile and emotional connections. Touch screens, including smart phones, tablets, and public kiosks, function as specific material objects and efface individuals’ technological experiences. She examines such things as Apple’s prompt to “Pick up the new iPad” and “You’re actually touching” things. “Nothing comes between you and what you love.” She studies how these practices connect individuals to deeply mediated images that seem to be tactile bodies. Screens touch individuals, as hands touch technologies, through a series of gestures, emotional responses, and attachments.
Dr. Michele White
Department of Communication
219 Newcomb Hall
New Orleans, LA 70118
mwhite [at] michelewhite [dot] orgmichelewhite.org