MITH is pleased to announce Avery Dame, doctoral candidate in the department of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, as the Winnemore Dissertation Fellow for 2016-2017. Dame is completing his dissertation, “Talk Amongst Yourselves: Community Formation in Transgender Counterpublic Discourse Online,” which explores the affective and structural meanings assigned to “community” in English-language transgender discourse online.

During the fellowship, Dame will work on the second chapter of his dissertation, which focuses on the ideological meaning of “cisgender” and its role in shaping community sentiment in Usenet discourse. As part of this project, he will develop and launch an archive of posts from several major transgender-related newsgroups, held in the Internet Archives’ Usenet Historical Collection.

Using Critical and Multi-Modal Discourse Analysis, Dame analyzes how users past and present construct “transgender community” in discourse, and the impact of platform-specific affordances on these discussions. Each chapter draws on a different site, including 1990s movement publications, archival data from Usenet newsgroups, ethnographic interviews with transgender-identified individuals, informational websites, and Tumblr. Throughout these different sites, he argues community’s use as a guiding heuristic, and the accompanying emphasis on the term’s positive affective associations, obscures key differences, disconnects, and inequalities amongst discourse participants.

Dame’s work tackles core Digital Humanities questions on the roles organizational architecture, metadata, and standardization play in guiding the flow and direction of discourse. His work and writings on the Transgender Usenet Archive also offers new methodological insights into working with early Usenet discourse in archival form. You can read more about Avery on his MITH staff page here.