Questions over how new technologies will change people have been asked since at least the time of Plato’s critique of writing in the Phaedrus. As technology has become ubiquitous, the response to this change has ranged from reactionary to celebratory, but it seems clear that we have changed as a society and as humans. My work examines how these changes in the technological landscape have influenced constructions of identity, our perceptions of embodiment, and how we engage in political action.

My first book, Naked Politics: Nudity, Political Action, and the Rhetoric of the Body, examines how the unclothed body can be mobilized for political and social ends. This work also considered the constraints of the different media through which the body is displayed. For example, a chapter on lactivism (politically motivated breastfeeding) examined protests both in physical space and on Facebook. My work suggests that the physical protests were covered by the news media much more sympathetically because the women possessed a legal right to breastfeed in public and the immediacy of the hungry child mitigated accusations of exhibition. In contrast, the women who posted breastfeeding photos on Facebook had mistakenly placed Facebook into the same category as public space.

My current book project, The Body in Public: Visual Rhetoric, Nudity, and Sexuality, examines political actions that embrace sexual display and focuses on the global media environment. For example, one chapter describes how Egyptian blogger Aliaa Magda Elmahdy’s nude photo posted on Twitter with the hashtag #NudePhotoRevolutionary served as both a repudiation of religious norms concerning how women should display their bodies and as a call to action for like-minded women. The photo spread through social media channels and spurred similar displays. This work is under contract with Lexington Books and will be complete October 2017.

A third book manuscript, Hacker Texts: Constructing Identity in the Golden Age of Hacking, is complete and currently under review with a university press. This work examines hacker texts created during the 1980s and 1990s, including hacker publications and white papers by various hacker groups and actual hacks, to explore how constructions of digital identity evolved in response to exigencies in the offline world, such as Operation Sundevil or the capture of Kevin Mitnick. Although hacker groups may subscribe to different philosophies concerning the ontology of cyberspace, the phenomenology of hacking, and ethical codes, I argue that there are points of cohesion found within the texts that help illuminate the shared values and collective identity of hackers.

I have also published work in the area of posthuman embodiment and sexuality, and my long-range research plan is to explore these themes in another book project. I have already published work in this area in Explorations in Media Ecology, Theology and Sexuality, and several edited volumes.

My work has been well received both in the scholarly community and in the mass media. My work on nudity and political action has led to interviews with such outlets as Slate, Elle, and the Brazilian magazine Época, as well as mentions in such outlets as The Guardian. Some of my other work has been mentioned in outlets like Talking Points Memo and Newsweek. Naked Politics was reviewed favorably in Rhetoric Society Quarterly and Journal of Popular Culture. My work has also been recognized by the Media Ecology Association in 2014 and 2017 with the Walter Benjamin Award for Outstanding Article in the Field of Media Ecology.