Call For Chapters: Youth Mediations and Affective Relations


Susan Driver (York University, Toronto) and Natalie Coulter (York University, Toronto) are inviting submissions for a proposed anthology exploring the intersections of youth cultures, affective relations and digital media.

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of academic and popular interest in the ways young people engage with digital media as a pervasive and integral part of their everyday lives. On the one hand celebratory approaches position youth as generational leaders with unique knowledge and skills to operate devices and mobilize applications. Alternately young people are positioned in passive ways as victims of corporate technological systems that shape their identities and delimit their social relations within narrow and normative boundaries. In both these framings young people are homogenized and fixed within dominant institutions of the digital political economy. Big data and overarching structures become primary sites of study losing touch with the voices, embodiments and practices of youth within their local contexts of learning, creativity and socialization.

Alternatively, to hone in closely on young people has often proven to be invasive, bound up with moral evaluations that rigidly interpret the subjective and interpersonal lives of young people, negatively judging how they connect, play games, make profiles, text each other, upload images and gather information. And within this process it is striking how much interest gets loosely placed on the emotional and affective dimensions of young peoples’ experiences. It is precisely the feelings and bodily encounters of young people that grip moral panics about the excess and dangers of online interactions: sharing too much information, immersing too fast and far within virtual realities, fictionalizing the self, taking sexual risks, becoming violent or addicted, and losing control. Yet in framing youth experience in terms of affectively charged relations that transgress rational and moral codes of meaning, youth are once again constructed in universalizing and naturalizing ways. What is lacking in this research are expansive critical, empirically detailed and ethically nuanced modes of theorizing the links between youth, affect and digital mediations.

Scholars have begun to grapple with the affective contours of youth mediations using supple and complex interdisciplinary tools that recognize the historical and ideological stakes of their practice. Nancy Lesko’s deconstructive approach to modern normalizing conceptions of youth offers a brilliant starting point to reconsider how youth affect gets erased, reified and misrepresented. Feminist approaches to the study of girls’ media engagements have been especially responsive to the creative emotional and symbolic negotiations of young people across a range of media formats (Angela McRobbie, Michelle Fine, Anita Harris, Jessica Ringrose, Jessalynn Keller, Anna Hickey-Moody, Emma Renolds). Critical attention to youth sexualities have also turned toward the ways desire and power play out in a multitude of ways, against restrictive heteronormative expectations (Jack Halberstam, Susan Talburt, Whitney Monaghan, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Natasha Hurley, Jen Gilbert, Mary Louise Rasmussen). Focusing on how racial and national identities and embodiment become articulated and resisted, scholars have elaborated research to considering how and why race matters across media (Tricia Rose, Gwendolyn Pough, Greg Dimitriadis, Sunaina Marr Maira, Gayatri Gopinath). These lists are in no way exhaustive but what is striking are the ways in which thinking through affects of joy, fear, desire, anxiety, hope, longing, anger, pleasure and grief (among many others), become central to the process of understanding young people’s mediated lives across a range of youth scholarship. Recognizing the interconnected embodied, affective, psychic, social, cultural, political worlds of young people becomes vital within research grappling with experiences of marginalization and inequality.

These diverse and overlapping bodies of work are at the forefront of attending to the historically mediated and situated dynamics of young peoples affective lives and the conceptual mappings and discursive formations that make them thinkable and politically relevant. Our book aims to expand upon this emerging research, insisting upon theoretical applications and speculations that are simultaneously specific and historically grounded. Attending to the emerging networked publics and social media landscapes that elicit young people’s intense interest, we want to address changing intersections of technology, practice, representation and affective experiences. We are excited to explore how social movements including Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, Arab Spring and Occupy have been propelled through the affectively charged and nuanced participations that mobilize social movements by, for and about young people. We also want to attend to the detailed ways youth use and transform media technologies and platforms, at the level of their everyday worlds. With the popularity of sharing user-generated content on mobile devices through platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr, youth are telling stories, imaging themselves and forging connections in prolific ways that articulate relations between self and other, intimacy and community, creativity and politics that go beyond binary ways thinking. We value research that engages with the small data realms of young people through which ephemeral and fluid online interrelations become noticeable and meaningful, giving rise to new interpretive styles and methodologies that refuse totalization and closure. Against the often abstract tendencies of affect theory, we aim to gather research that is attentive to the changing mediated social conditions of the affective relations of young people across gender, sexual, racial, national and class differences.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Affective mediations and globalization/diasporic youth engagements
  • Young peoples networked sexualities
  • Gender affect and mediation
  • Affective dimensions of algorithms/digital surveillance
  • Affective relations of race/mobilizations of anti-racist youth expressions and movements
  • Moral regulations/panics of young peoples affective relations
  • Affective formations of young people through platforms/apps/hardware design
  • Affective life of video games
  • Mediated embodiments
  • Neoliberal ideologies and the mediation of youth affect
  • Commodification/commercialization of affects

Please submit a 500-word abstract that includes a short list of references, and a brief bio, by Friday Sept. 15, 2016 to Susan Driver or Natalie Coulter.

We will notify successful submissions by Oct 1. Full essays will be due by Dec. 1.