Hello again, CHI!

My name is Vee Lawson, a returning CHI Fellow for 2022-23 and a fourth-year PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric. Last year, I had the privilege of learning from an incredible cohort of colleagues across a range of academic fields, and I look forward to doing the same this year!

In my home discipline, I draw on cultural rhetorics and digital feminist practices to understand how we can use writing to form supportive communities, especially in times of hardship, under surveillance, and in other adverse environments. My dissertation is a mixed-methods study of a Reddit community that snarks on Christian fundamentalism. Through this study, I hope to understand the storytelling practices participants use to counter misogyny within Reddit’s platform dynamics, within the fundamentalist media upon which they snark, and within their own discourse as they interact with other snarkers in the subreddit. The findings can help us understand 1) How participants resist intensification pathways that lead to toxic online spaces, 2) What community dynamics enable a pro-social, story-based community within a hostile platform, and 3) How the resulting storytelling practices help participants foster reflexivity and redefine their online identities.

If you’d like to try your hand at ethical snark or learn more about preliminary results from my study, check out GodHonoringSnark.com! I built this interactive narrative as my CHI project last year, based on the results of the first of two rounds of topic modeling. You can also learn more about the process of building this project here.

This year, I plan to continue developing my skills in creating interactive, responsive experiences based on research data–but probably not about snark! Instead, I’m thinking about histories of graduate student labor, land and land-grant institutions, and recent shifts towards coalitionally-oriented, abolitionist organizing. Of course, this is only an introduction post, so check back later to see what this project might become!