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The Girl in the GIF

Reading the Self into Girlfriendship

Akane Kanai

Keywords: affect; digital media; discourse; public; reader; text

In this article, I explore the practice of reading as a form of social participation in girlhood in digital spaces. Positioning girlhood as the circulation of particular discourses and affects, I consider a set of six self-representative blogs authored by young women on the microblogging platform Tumblr, and the affective and discursive positions they invite through their address to readers. Adapted from a central blog named WhatShouldWeCallMe, these blogs use GIFs (looping, animated images) and captions to articulate feelings and reactions relating to everyday situations that readers, addressed as girlfriends, are expected to recognize and relate to as common experience. I suggest that readers’ aesthetic and social participation in the circulation of these texts is key to the formation of digital publics in which readers come to recognize themselves as girls through calls to common feeling.

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