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When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
Scholarship on the practices of young gender-marginalized people online is a bourgeoning theme within internet studies and feminist media studies. Within historical scholarship of the internet, women, especially young women, are missing. In feminist art history, feminist practices with emerging technology are abundant but young women making art on and with the web is not. Given the aforementioned gaps, this dissertation aims to expand the interdisciplinary fields of internet studies, feminist media studies, and feminist art history through a genealogy of a conjunctural moment of the world wide web. The thesis title presents the breadth of this project: the erased and forgotten web-based work, specifically the self-imaging practices, of young women who used proto-social media forms in the process, creation, and circulation of production between 1996 and 2001. Demanding a synthesis of critical skills operating within the fields mentioned above, it aims to do so through a phenomenological analysis of self-images that appeared on personal websites. It argues that these self-imagi(ni)ng practices serve as (a) tactical methods in reaction to patriarchal regimes of power and s/censorship, (b) a means of engendering the sociality of trauma as a productive orientation, and (c) communicative nodes that through wit(h)nessing reshape a feminist intimate public into a friendship network predicated on the aesthetics and forms of circulation of the work. Most internet analysis misses the aforementioned politically engaged feminist history and its influence on how we use and conceptualize the internet today. The project’s objective is to provide a feminist genealogy of the web, demanding a more politically feminist espousal of it, both in theory and practice.