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Eva Steinhorn LOA Packet

by on May 4, 2011

The pilot course, WMST488A “Senior Seminar: Feminist Social Media: Activisms and Analysis” encompassed all the strategies the department wants us, as students, to learn.  For me, the course was divided into two parts: the knowledge and learning section and then the “doing” section.  In the beginning of the course, we were introduced to the idea of social media and using it as a tool for activism.  I am very involved in social media; I use many sites and communicate with my friends mainly through social media.  However, the concept of using social media as a means for other than socializing and communicating with people never occurred to me.  This course is appealing to college students because we are the “social media generation.”  I’ve grown up talking with friends on Myspace and Facebook so I was very interested to see what this course could offer me.

Share This! by Deanna Zandt and Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out both offered glimpses into the world of social media in regards to activism.  What are the different uses of social media?  How do feminists use social media?  How can social media promote activism amongst individuals?  These women answered these questions and showed me new ways people are communicating and sharing ideas.  Our class was also given the chance to see danah boyd speak at the “Theorizing the Web” conference and she spoke on the trends in teens and their use of social media, mainly Facebook.  Listening to her lecture was very beneficial to my complete understanding of her book.  It also helped me to better understand the research and effort put into investigating the uses of social media.

When discussing social media, it is important to recognize accessibility.  Not everyone in the world has access to the internet or a computer, therefore not everyone can use social media.  Who is using social media the most?  What are their uses?  Are there common similarities between those who are not using social media?  It is important to look at the divisions between race, class, and gender and who is in power in regards to social media.  Critically analyzing Zandt helps us become more aware of cultural and social divides.  As a class, we discussed how Zandt sometimes forgets who her audience is, and that not everyone has access to the internet.  She assumes that everyone can get on the Internet, when in fact, it’s just not the case.

Our final projects were a culmination of the class and demonstrated the theories and concepts we’ve learned not only in this class, but in all of our women’s studies courses throughout our time with the department.  We were able to choose the topics ourselves, so we could work on one of our careabouts.  This was important to me because we were able to show everything we’ve learned throughout our four years through a final project about something we were personally invested in.  I worked with Anton, and we sought to find a way to better document radical student activism at Maryland.  We created a blog, and began researching past and present activism on campus.  We cited our research with proper citation format and documentation.  I have learned citation practices in my previous women’s studies classes as well, and it is always good practice to do again.

As a class, we presented our projects at the Theorizing the Web conference.  I had not attending a conference before and am already not the most confident public speaker.  However, our presentation was workshop style, people could walk around, look at our different displays, and then ask questions.  Instead of standing in front of a large group of people and presenting our project in lecture form, we had intellectual conversations with people.  We were able get their feedback on our projects, an incredibly helpful tool, and then utilize their feedback to make our projects ultimately better.

This course should absolutely be offered as a senior seminar class in the future.  The course readings are interesting, relatable, and involved.  Social media is a new means of communicating, sharing, interacting and this course analyzes the role of activism within social media.  Personally, I have a summer internship for the summer and one thing they said they were impressed with was that I had taken a course on activism within social media.  More and more organizations are using social media and looking for young individuals to hire.  This course is not only a great addition to the senior seminar but also to the women’s studies department as well.


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