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dc.contributor.authorMaddox, Jessica Leigh
dc.description.abstractPresently, content "going viral" is almost synonymous with the contemporary internet. This virality results in content becoming extremely popular and having a substantial, albeit fleeting, cultural impact. Most often, when content "goes viral," we are speaking of and dealing with specifically visual content. This dissertation interrogates the connections between and social modalities of types of images that have been spread online in order to analyze how digitally visual content can be understood through an ideologically-constructed lens of near-constant captivation and entertainment. This study bridges the fields of image studies, digital media studies, and internet studies to understand the unique and pervasive presence of the visual in digital cultures. Following the work of John Tagg, this research is situated in historically-specific cultural analysis of the visual and a particular technology in question - herein, that is the internet. I call the phenomenon-object dialectic that imbricates culture and technology "the ocularcentric internet," and I use this technological position to ground my analysis of the types of images that are posted and published. What emerges is a particular coherence of realized signification, in which hegemony and discourse construct the dominant visuality of our time - the regime of enthrallment. The regime of enthrallment is a structure of feeling in which a particular type of cultural work is commonplace, and such work privileges near-constant entertainment. Initial chapters of this study offer rational, theoretical, and methodological positioning of visuality and understanding the visual nature of digital cultures. Following chapters analyze types of images found online, and I situate these visual occurrences within their social, cultural, and historical trajectories to use micro-level "viral images" to paint a macro-level tapestry of our current cultural landscape. This dissertation concludes positing that enthrallment is a type of cultural work and a zeitgeist and therefore pervasive. However, it is not eternal, and in addition to being a site of beneficial practices it can also be a terrain of social injustices. The conclusion looks to the future with hopes this study has laid groundwork for understanding the deeply visual nature of the internet and pervasiveness of such practice in broader culture.
dc.subjectDigital culture
dc.subjectsocial media
dc.subjectvisual studies
dc.subjectinternet studies
dc.subjectcultural studies
dc.subjectJohn Tagg
dc.subjectAntonio Gramsci
dc.titleVisuality beyond virality
dc.title.alternativesituating the ocularcentric internet in the regime of enthrallment
dc.description.departmentGrady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
dc.description.majorMass Communication
dc.description.advisorCarolina Acosta-Alzuru
dc.description.committeeCarolina Acosta-Alzuru
dc.description.committeeElli Roushanzamir
dc.description.committeeJames F. Hamilton
dc.description.committeeShira Chess

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