Detailed Table of Contents

Taking its cue both from discussions about the ‘fourth wave’ of feminism that largely takes place in digital environments and from the growing interdisciplinary interest in podcasts, this special issue sets out to explore the aesthetics and politics of this medium with regard to matters of gender and sexuality. The field of podcast studies, advanced by pioneer Richard Berry (2006) and first substantial critical volumes such as Llinares et al.’s Podcasting. New Aural Cultures and Digital Media (2018) and Spinelli and Dann’s Podcasting: The Audio Media Revolution (2019), evolves out of (digital) media and cultural studies, with increasing input from fan studies in particular. It thus partakes in a tradition of inquiry with close ties to feminist scholarship and concerns with agency and power. While podcasts engage with a huge array of topics across all spheres of pop culture, including erotic fan fiction as well as LGBTQ+ issues, they are seen as a medium characterized by orality and audience participation, offering intimate and authentic settings for commentary and information (still relatively) free from the constraints of editorship and commercialism of other media….

Click here to download the editorial

Author’s Bio: Julia Hoydis s currently Visiting Professor of English Literature and Gender Studies (funded by the FONTE Foundation) at the University of Duisburg-Essen. From October 2020, she will be Professor of English Literature and Culture at the University of Graz, Austria. Previously, she taught at the University of Cologne, where she completed her postdoctoral degree (Habiliation, 2018) and her PhD (2010). Her research interests include literature and science, the intersections between gender and genre, processes of canonization, digital narratives, and literature and other art forms, especially dance. She is currently working on a project in the field of historical gender studies funded by the Moderata Fonte-Forum of Early Modern Studies, preparing a critical edition and translation of the works of the author Margaret Cavendish. She is general editor of ANGLISTIK: International Journal of English Studies.

Abstract: Can pornography ever be an ethical expression of sexuality? Laura and Rachel, hosts of the podcast Girls on Porn (2019-), participate in this ongoing discourse by reviewing professional and amateur pornographic videos on their podcast. Their aim is to help their listenership find ethical pornography and, in the course of reviewing a selection of pornographic content each episode, to explicitly subvert expectations about mainstream pornography by primarily focussing on the performance of women’s sexual pleasure. The podcast makes use of the popular format of the “chumcast” shows—podcasts that thrive on the casual conversation and easy banter of their hosts (cf. McHugh). The popularity of this format may be explained by the unique affordances of the podcast medium, heightening feelings of intimacy, authenticity and embodiment (Llinares, Berry and Meserko). This article explores how the podcast medium’s aural form impacts the hosts’ assertion of their sexual agency in their commentary of the pornographic videos they watch as well as in the negotiation of their personal erotic experiences. The affordances of the podcast allow the hosts and their diverse guests to affirm their sexual agency and express their erotic fantasies in a safe space by providing an intimate atmosphere that prompts a paradoxical sense of anonymity as well as a parasocial connection to their listenership. Importantly, it also enables the hosts to mediate the pornography they watch through an aural-only medium which allows a distance to the visuality of pornographic videos which overwhelmingly relies on the objectification of female bodies.

Click here to download this article

Author’s Bio: Anne Korfmacher is a doctoral student in English Philology and scholarship holder at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne, currently researching anglophone fan commentary podcasts and the negotiation of fan identities.

Abstract: As intimacy emerges as a key concept in podcast research, it becomes increasingly urgent to consider the multifaceted ways in which it interacts with the medium. This article advances research on podcasting intimacy by understanding intimacy as undergoing a continual process of culturally contingent negotiation and examining how podcasting participates in that negotiation. Instead of treating intimacy as an inherent part of podcasting, it demonstrates how podcasts can create intimacy and use it to form connections among members of a fan public. To do so, this article uses the first season of Within the Wires (2016) to show how narrative repetition constructs fan-based intimate publics. Within the Wires is an alternate reality fiction podcast whose first season takes the form of relaxation tapes. Throughout the podcast, the narrator repeats specific lines, phrases, and memories that the listener comes to recognize. By retooling Roland Barthes and Marianne Hirsch’s work on recognition and community building in photography for use in sound research, this article develops a theoretical framework for understanding the temporalities of recognition in podcasting. Using this framework, the article posits that Within the Wires uses non-narrative repetition alongside its aural aesthetics to create an intimate public through recognition. The podcast extends that recognition into its monetizing paratexts, making it possible for listeners to recognize themselves and others as fans. The first section of this paper defines recognition and its relationship to time, the second considers how recognition works within the show’s fandom, the third looks at recognition within Within the Wires’ monetizing paratexts, and the final tracks how the podcast finds horror in the breakdown of this system. The article argues that Within the Wires presents intimacy and creates fan-based intimate publics through the experience of recognition.

Click here to download this article

Author’s Bio: Alyn Euritt is a late stage PhD candidate whose dissertation project at the Universität Leipzig, Podcasting Intimacy, outlines a medially distinct framework for studying intimacy in podcasting. After finishing her MA at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, her work as an English teacher and Director of Studies for German Language for Refugees in Dresden sparked her current interest in the role of listening in public discourse. Alyn has also worked in a variety of academic contexts, including as guest researcher and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at the Université libre de Bruxelles. She co-organized the conference ‘Podcasting Poetics’ at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz in 2019 and is currently co-editing a themed section of Participations entitled Podcasting’s Listening Publics with Dario Llinares and Anne Korfmacher.

Abstract: This paper examines an episode of popular storytelling podcast The Month, titled “A Walk on the West Side” (2014), in order to explicate and uncover how gender, race, and class might attach to certain voices. In this episode, Jones (a stage performer, writer, and gifted impressionist) first relates her memories of being typecast as black female stereotypes; she then tells the story of being pulled over by LAPD a few days later, under suspicion of sex work. Ultimately, Jones baffles the cops who detain her by affecting a flawless British accent, disrupting their assumptions. Her story—told on the podcast in a myriad of different voices—literally speaks class, race, and gender into being, only to challenge the fixity of these signs, showcasing the simultaneously disruptive and productive potential of speech.

Click here to download this article

Author’s Bio: Chase Gregory is an Assistant Professor of English at Bucknell University. Her current book project, As/if: Reading, Writing, Criticism, and Identity, examines queer and feminist literary critics whose work strategically transgresses identity categories. She has published in The Comics Studies Journal, Feminist Spaces, differences, and GLQ.

Abstract: From a feminist media studies and cultural studies perspective, the contribution explores the fascinating, yet overlooked podcast series Alice Isn’t Dead (2016-8). The podcast thematically centers around the complex relationship of culture and distance and develops different understandings of culture, as well as the experience of distance in a geographical, socio-economic (class mobility), or interpersonal-romantic sense. Tracing these conceptions and their attempts to define a collective US-American identity differently, the contribution focuses on the podcast’s narration in the form of radio monologues by its protagonist, the exceptional trucker character Keisha, its take on the road trip and (female) mobility, as well as its representation of a queer love story. With an eye for the intersectional effects of gender, race, and sexual orientation, these readings mobilize a variety of cultural artifacts to explore the particular affordances of serialized fictional podcast storytelling. Of particular interest to the contribution are the intertextual echoes of tropes and themes of the road trip narrative and the road movie, as well as the podcast’s ending as a turn toward homonormativity that is inconsistent with the queer temporalities and the capitalist critique developed by the podcast during its three seasons.

Click here to download this article

Author’s Bio: Maria Sulimma is the Postdoctoral Researcher in the research group “Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions” at the University Duisburg-Essen. Her research spans literary and cultural studies, urban studies, and feminist media studies. Her current book projects are on gender, seriality, and television narration, as well as on gentrification and urban pastimes of the 19th and 21st century.

Abstract: In contemporary mainstream media there is a tendency to represent LGBTQ+ characters stereotypically, or even kill them off. This trope is called ‘bury your gays’ and it has done much to discredit and delegitimise representation. Even though the percentage of queer representation in mainstream media has improved, a viewer could be forgiven for thinking that, overall, popular culture does not think highly of the LGBTQ+ community for continuing to perpetuate these narrative arcs. The McElroy family’s popular actual-play podcast The Adventure Zone (TAZ) initially portrayed queer characters in the ‘bury your gays’ trope by killing off a canon lesbian couple in their first season. As four self-proclaimed ‘straight, cis, white dudes’, the family initially performed their characters by reflecting what they had seen in mainstream fiction. After engaging with their audience and learning why this was upsetting, they changed the story to reverse the trope; unburying their gays by bringing the characters back to life. Since then, they have consistently introduced more queer characters and, in their latest season, have also introduced nonbinary characters. By tracking the introduction and development of queer representation in TAZ podcast episodes – both the game episodes and the meta-episodes bookending each season – the McElroys’ education and integration of this new information into narratives is demonstrable. The representation of queer characters in TAZ shows that podcasts are not just a platform for LGBTQ+ creators to educate their audience; they can also act as a participatory storytelling medium in which creators can be educated in gender and sexuality by their audience.

Click here to download this article

Author’s Bio: Jessica Seymour is an Australian researcher and lecturer at Fukuoka University, Japan. Her research interests include children’s and YA literature, transmedia storytelling, and popular culture. She has contributed chapters to several essay collections, which range in topic from fan studies, to Doctor Who, to ecocriticism in the works of JRR Tolkien.

Abstract: This article examines the experiences of female streamers and podcasters on Twitch Turkey primarily through in-depth interviews conducted with 35 respondents. Despite the platform’s growth as one of the most widely visited social media sites and the biggest online game streaming platform, there is limited research as to how gender identities and geographical location shape streamers’ experiences and usage of the platform. We argue that female streamer’s use of Twitch Turkey is marked by combined patriarchal pressures and neoliberal, postfeminist thrust for aggressive competitiveness. Sexual harassment is the major problem for women, and pervasive patriarchal relations of domination affect all female streamers’ usage of the platform, who often find themselves scrutinized and criticized for their body images, clothing, and gaming performances. In exerting control over their behavior, patriarchy, however, affects women in different ways based on their cultural preferences and personal habits. We also argue that Twitch Turkey tends to push women to adopt postfeminist subjectivities to rigorously compete with each other for limited viewership, sponsorship, and income opportunities. However, these pressures and constraints are resisted and re-negotiated especially through the formation of female solidarities and affective communities in online streaming.

Click here to download this article

Author’s Bio: Deniz Zorlu has been working in the Department of Media and Communication and in the Department of Cinema and Digital Media at Izmir University of Economics, Turkey since September 2018. He received his Ph.D. from Queen’s University Cultural Studies program at Kingston, Canada in November 2017. In his doctorate thesis, h analyzed the ways popular Turkish television series engage with and affect the processes of socio-cultural change in Turkey. Primary research interests include the examination of popular media productions, the political uses of social media sites, and online fan communities in contemporary Turkey. His articles on social media and television are published or are slated for publishing in peer-reviewed journals such as New Review of Film and Television Studies, VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture, and Masculinities: A Journal of Culture and Society.

Nazlı Özkan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Visual Arts at Koç University, İstanbul. She received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Northwestern University. Her research received support from several institutions such as the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Fulbright Foreign Student Program, and Henry R. Luce Initiative of Religious and International Affairs. Özkan’s publications on journalism, digital media, religious difference, and the state appeared in journals such as PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, MERIP: Middle East Research Project, and META: Middle East Topics and Arguments. Her future project about the history of new media technologies in Turkey is funded by a Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Widening Fellowship.

Abstract: The Nahuatl word nepantla, as defined by Gloria Anzaldúa in This Bridge We Call Home, means tierre entre medio or “middle ground/land between” loosely rendered (Soto I). Borrowing this word from Anzaldúa’s usage, Christopher Soto founded the literary journal Nepantla in association with Lambda Literary in 2013. Soto’s interest with this journal project was in increasing visibility of the diversity in queer poetry; the Nightboat Anthology Nepantla: An Anthology for Queer Poets of Color has the same aim and is largely an extension of the journal (I). Poets in the 200-page anthology validate the queer of color experience in all its polyvalence; there are, however, some things lacking in Nepantla. In Soto’s same spirit of “constructive criticism” (II), because this anthology’s poet-base is an essential, vibrant, and canonically underrepresented group, some critiques of this important anthology project should be made.. . .

Click here to download this article

Author’s Bio: Robert Eric Shoemaker holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics from Naropa University and is currently a Comparative Humanities PhD student at the University of Louisville. Follow Eric’s work at reshoemaker.com.

Abstract: In her text Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women’s Activism and Global Solidarity during the Cold War, Kristen Ghodsee sets out to examine two key components of the UN International Decade of Women. The first component is how Bulgarian women’s activists made connections with socialist women in Zambia and exchanged knowledge with them. The second component is how Bulgarian and Zambian women’s activists and Second and Third World activists for women’s rights more broadly, allied with one another in the context of the UN Decade for Women. For Ghodsee, the history of Second World women’s rights activists has largely been lost, and this book works partly as a recovery project.. . .

Click here to download this article

Author’s Bio: n/a