Hello my name is Whitney Phillips. This is an old blog from when I was a child.
I have a BA in Philosophy (Humboldt State University, 2004), an MFA in Creative Writing (Emerson College, 2007), and in 2012 received my PhD in English with a Digital Culture/Folklore structured emphasis from the University of Oregon. I am currently an Assistant Professor of Literary Studies and Writing at Mercer University.
My academic research focuses on digital media and technology studies, communication studies, cultural studies, folklore studies, literary studies, and critical race, gender, and sexuality studies. I’m the author of This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture, which was published by The MIT Press in 2015. My second book, co-authored with my ongoing collaborator Ryan Milner of the College of Charleston, explores ambivalent online play through the lens of folklore, identity play, collective storytelling, humor, and public debate, and is forthcoming with Polity Press (2017).
I occasionally tweet at @wphillips49. Please direct media requests to David Weininger at MIT Press: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scroll down for academic & popular press publications, if that’s how you choose to live your life.
(Oh, and why “billions and billions?”)
- Phillips and R.M. Milner. “The Political Punctum: Resonance, Standpoint Theory, and the #YesAllWomen Meme.” In Entertainment Values: How Do We Assess Entertainment and Why Does it Matter? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming.
- “Like Gnats to a Forklift Foot: Using Ambivalent Fan Engagement with TLC’s ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ to Challenge the Anti-Fan Frame.” In Dislike, Hate and Anti-Fandom in the Digital Age (under final editorial review at New York University Press).
- “So Bad It’s Good: The Kuso Aesthetic in Troll 2.” Transformative Works and Cultures, September 2013.
- “The House That Fox Built: 4chan, Anonymous and Cycles of Amplification.” Published online before print in Television and New Media, August 2012. (pre-proof version here)
- “In Defense of Memes.” In Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture, ed. Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford and Joshua Green. New York: New York University Press, 2012.
- “LOLing at Tragedy: Facebook, Memorial Trolls, and Reactions to Grief Online.” First Monday, December 2011. (essay has been significantly revised since publication; email for updated version)
- “Free Speech, Privacy and Control: An Interview with Paulie Socash.” Index on Censorship, September 2011.
Other Writing (selected)
- “We’re the Reason We Can’t Have Nice Things on the Internet.” Quartz, December 29.
- “Memes, Cool Traps, and Performing Legitimacy: Where the Researcher Fits in All This.” Culture Digitally, November 3.
- “Putting Online Disaster Humor in Offline Context.” Slate Magazine, May 21.
- “Introduction to This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” Scientific American, May 15.
- “Let’s Call ‘Trolling’ What It Is: Gender and Sexism in the Tech Space.” The Kernel, May 10.
- “Focus on Actions and Context.” The New York Times, August 19.
- “Why We’re Never Gonna Give Up on the Rickroll.” The Conversation, July 29.
- “Comment Moderation and the (Anti-) Social Web.” The Daily Dot, Antisocial Network Series, October 9 2013.
- “Don’t Feed the Trolls? It’s Not that Simple.” The Daily Dot, Antisocial Network series, June 12, 2013.
- “A Brief History of Trolls.” The Daily Dot, Antisocial Network series, May 20, 2013.
- “Dissecting the Frog: What Humor has to Say About Culture and Community.” The New Inquiry, April 8 2013.
- “Ethnography of Trolling: Workarounds, Discipline-Jumping and Ethical Pitfalls” (part 3 of 3; focused on discipline jumping). Ethnography Matters, March 5 2013.
- “Ethnography of Trolling: Workarounds, Discipline-Jumping and Ethical Pitfalls (part 2 of 3; focused on research ethics).” Ethnography Matters, February 5 2013.
- “Ethnography of Trolling: Workarounds, Discipline-Jumping and Ethical Pitfalls” (part 1 of 3; focused on methodological workarounds). Ethnography Matters, January 8 2013.
- “What an Academic Who Wrote Her Dissertation on Trolling Thinks of Violentacrez.” The Atlantic, October 15 2012.
- “Obscene to Whom, Bizarre to Whom?: Folkloristics and the Study of Ambivalent Online Behavior” (co-presented with Ryan Milner of the College of Charleston). Presented at the Association of Internet Researchers 16 Conference in Phoenix, AZ, October 21-24 2015.
- “The Political Punctum: Resonance, Standpoint Theory, and the #YesAllWomen Meme” and “Cool Story, Bro?: Relevance, Timeliness, and the Problem of ‘Lame Memes.’” Presented at the International Commutations Association meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 21-25 2015.
- “So Bad It’s Funny: Ambiguous Fan Engagement as an Expression of Cultural Literacy.” Panel presentation at 2014’s ICA meeting in Seattle, WA.
- “Why Study Villains, Scoundrels, and Rule Breakers? Online Trolls as Case Study.” TEDx Talk given at TEDxCSS event in Spokane, WA on November 13, 2013. Conference theme: “Reimagining Community: Outliers, Misfits and Revolutionaries.”
- “Just Because is Does Spread Doesn’t Mean it Should: Online Vigilantism and the Problem of Public Shaming.” Presentation for the “The Dark Side of Spreadability” panel at the 2013 Media in Transition 8 Conference in Boston, MA.
- “Adventures in Aca-meme-ia.” Panel presentation at ROFLcon III, May 2012.
- “Cats and Penises All the Way Down: Performances of Gender and Sexuality on 4chan/b/.” Paper presented at the International Communications Association meeting, May 2012.
- “‘She Must Have Stockholm Syndrome’: The Ethics of (Anonymous) Digital Ethnography.” Paper presented at the University of Oregon’s Graduate Research Forum, January 2012.
- “Privacy in the Age of Facebook.” Panel discussion sponsored by USC’s Visions and Voices lecture series, March 2011.
- “Playing with Fire: Learning in Niche Online Communities.” Panel presentation at Digital Media and Learning, March 2011.
- “Transcending Irony: Mapping the Relationship Between Technology, Politics and Humor.” Paper presented at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, March 2010.
Media (not updated in two years)
- Interviewed by Farhad Manjoo at The New York Times (“Web Trolls Winning as Incivility Increases”), August 2014.
- Interviewed by Nick Thompson at CNN (“Internet Trolls: What to Do About the Scourge of the Web”), July 2013.
- Interviewed by Brent Bambury of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Day 6 radio program for a segment on online vigilantism, December 28 2012.
- Appeared on Offbook (PBS web series) for an episode on trolling, bullying and free speech (“Bad Behavior Online”), December 13 2012.
- Appeared on trolling-themed episode of Australia’s SBS Insight television program, October 12 2012.
- Appeared on Offbook (PBS web series) for an episode on online Fan Culture (“Can Fandom Change Society?”), September 6 2012.
- Interviewed by Kate Miltner for The Atlantic (“How the Aurora Shootings Became Fodder for Lulz”), July 2012.
- Interviewed by Nidhi Subbaraman at Fast Company (“Meet Dr. Troll”), May 2012.
- Interviewed by Scott McLemee of Inside Higher Ed for his blog Intellectual Affairs (“Under the Bridge”), December 2011.