Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In this dissertation, I argue that out of postmodernity, subjectivity has seen distinct mutations inflected by consumer technology. As postmodern mediators of ordinary people, reality TV, Facebook, and YouTube are steeped in concerns about authenticity. Reality TV, for example, cannot escape its authenticity problem because of the conventional hierarchy of production it maintains, a hierarchy that prompts consumer skepticism regarding its truth value. However, seemingly democratic Internet platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, promise consumer engagement in which users can break down those hierarchical barriers preventing authentic expression. Under the guise of presumed mediational accuracy, the resulting feedback loop between productive consumers, who mediate themselves via democratic platforms, and the other ordinary people they consume online mutates their subjectivities. I isolate and define the heterogeneous “digital subject” cultivated from this mutation, a subject marked by the tenets of postmodernism and the platform through which it emerges. Rooted in media studies discourse, my project also interrogates the modes of consumption which permit intimate engagement with digital mediators. I illustrate the media community of this engagement through close textual analysis of reality TV such as MTV’s pioneering show The Real World, individual Facebook profiles, and YouTube vlogs and “Haul” videos. My project brings into critical focus the processes not simply shaping but mutating consumer subjects, and considers the implications and ramifications of mutational subjectivities as they proliferate in the digital age.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Secure the entire work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a period of one year. Student has submitted appropriate documentation which states: During this period the copyright owner also agrees not to exercise her/his ownership rights, including public use in works, without prior authorization from LSU. At the end of the one year period, either we or LSU may request an automatic extension for one additional year. At the end of the one year secure period (or its extension, if such is requested), the work will be released for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Catano, James V.