a tumblr book

platform and cultures
Allison McCracken, Alexander Cho, Louisa Stein, and Indira Neill Hoch, editors
Indispensable guide to the social media platform that shaped a generation’s politics and culture


This book takes an extensive look at the many different types of users and cultures that comprise the popular social media platform Tumblr. Though it does not receive nearly as much attention as other social media such as Twitter or Facebook, Tumblr and its users have been hugely influential in creating and shifting popular culture, especially progressive youth culture, with the New York Times referring to 2014 as the dawning of the “age of Tumblr activism.”
Perfect for those unfamiliar with the platform as well as those who grew up on it, this volume contains essays and artwork that span many different topics: fandom; platform structure and design; race, gender and sexuality, including queer and trans identities; aesthetics; disability and mental health; and social media privacy and ethics. An entire generation of young people that is now beginning to influence mass culture and politics came of age on Tumblr, and this volume is an indispensable guide to the many ways this platform works.
Allison McCracken is Associate Professor and Director of the American Studies Program at DePaul University.

Alexander Cho is Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Louisa Stein is Associate Professor of Film and Media Culture at Middlebury College.

Indira Neill Hoch is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Theater Arts at Concordia College, Moorhead Minnesota.

Praise / Awards

  • “Tumblr has long been home to those on the margins, a kind of a queer carnival of fandom, activism, and porn. a tumblr book in turn archives, critiques, and celebrates the creative potential of this understudied platform and the communities that inhabit(ed) it. This collection of essays, interviews, art, and ephemera is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to understand internet culture in the twenty-first century.”
    —Adrienne Massanari, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • a tumblr book covers a wide breadth of topics and includes more irreverent themes to match the platform. Overall, the Tumblr love is felt deeply in this book, and it is a nice example of how fandoms and scholarly work can mix.”
    —Shira Chess, University of Georgia
  • “I have been waiting for a book on Tumblr for many years, and this collection far exceeded my high expectations. Tumblr can be a notoriously opaque platform, and not only does this vital collection make it legible for a general readership, it makes a clear and compelling case for its significance as a subject of study. This book will be essential reading for scholars working on Tumblr communities, but more generally it offers an exemplary model for those embarking on any form of platform analysis.”
    —Suzanne Scott, University of Texas at Austin

Look Inside

Table of Contents

Contents: v
Acknowledgments: ix
Chapter 1. You Must Be New Here: An Introduction | Allison McCracken, Alexander Cho, Louisa Stein, and Indira Neill Hoch: 1
Section 1. #The Rules of Tumblr: 21
Chapter 2. Lost in the “Dash”: How Tumblr Fosters Virtuous Cycles of Content and Community | Nicholas Proferes and Katherine E. Morrissey: 23
Chapter 3. Going Down the Rabbit Hole: An Interview with Amanda Brennan, Head of Content Insights and Social, Tumblr: 37
Chapter 4. Blackout, Black Excellence, Black Power: Strategies of Everyday Online Activism on Black Tumblr | Kendra Calhoun: 48
Chapter 5. Under the Radar: A Conversation about Tumblr in the Public Sphere with Aja Romano and Elizabeth Minkel: 63
Chapter 6. Reblogs, Monsters, and Erotic Amphibians: The Process of Critical Analysis on Tumblr | Indira Neill Hoch: 69
Chapter 7. Divine Fools and Ridiculous Mystics: Tumblr Humor as an Act of Defiance | The-Cimmerians: 75
Chapter 8. Tumblr Time: How Tumblr’s Temporal Features Shape Community Memory and Knowledge | Milena Popova: 81
Gallery: @Staff | Indira Neill Hoch: 91
Section 2. #Privacy and Ethics: 101
Chapter 9. Screaming into the Void: Reconceptualizing Privacy, the Personal, and the Public through the Perspectives of Young Tumblr Users | Julian Burton: 103
Chapter 10. The Challenges of Doing Qualitative Research on Tumblr: Experience and Advice from Three Scholars of Young People’s Tumblr Use | Akane Kanai, Crystal Abidin, and Matthew Hart: 114
Chapter 11. We Are More Than Footnotes: Black Women and Intellectual Theft | Aisha Mahmud: 127
Section 3. #NSFW: 133
Chapter 12. Walled Gardens, NSFW Niches, and Horizontality: A Conversation about Tumblr Porn with | Susanna Paasonen and Noah Tsika: 135
Chapter 13. NSFW as an Intervention: The Case of Sexy Selfies on Tumblr | Katrin Tiidenberg: 142
Chapter 14. Fandom Surgery | Morgan Fisher: 154
Chapter 15. TumPorn Is Dead, Long Live TumPorn! | Shaka McGlotten: 158
Section 4. #Fandom: 165
Chapter 16. A Roundtable Discussion about the Cultures of Fandom on Tumblr with Flourish Klink, Rukmini Pande, Zina Hutton, and Lori Morimoto: 167
Chapter 17. Kitten Thinks of Nothing but Murder All Day: Tumblr Text Post Memes as Fandom Détournement | J. S. A. Lowe: 181
Chapter 18. Lesbian One Direction Fans Take Over Tumblr | Jessica Pruett: 194
Chapter 19. Ships, Fans, and #beatingthedistance: Queer Intimacy and the New Genre of Interactive Memoir on Tumblr | Annie Galvin: 201
Gallery: #Fan Art | Curated by Louisa Stein: 212
Section 5. #Activism: 225
Chapter 20. A Social Good Brand: An Interview with Victoria McCullough, Lead, Social Impact, Tumblr: 227
Chapter 21. Tumblr, XKit, and the XKit Guy: Toward an Extended Platform Ecology | Lesley Willard: 240
Chapter 22. Digital Decolonization: Reclaiming Tumblr’s #Latina Tag | Emily Rauber Rodriguez: 251
Chapter 23. Queer Tumblr IRL: An Interview with Joe Varisco: 257
Chapter 24. Behind the Scenes of a Popular Trans Youth Resources Tumblr | Lee Brown: 263
Chapter 25. Queer Tips: Using Tumblr for LGBTQ Sex Education and Outreach, an Interview with Maureen Kelly: 270
Section 6. #Identity/Affinity Networks: 279
Chapter 26. Tumblr as a Space of Learning, Connecting, and Identity Formation for LGBTIQ+ Young People | Brady Robards, Paul Byron, Brendan Churchill, Benjamin Hanckel, and Son Vivienne: 281
Chapter 27. A Conversation about Gender/Sexual Variant and Transgender Labeling and Networking on Tumblr with Abigail Oakley and Avery Dame-Griff: 293
Chapter 28. Developing a Black Genderfluid Feminist Critique via Tumblr | Strugglingtobeheard: 302
Chapter 29. #Spoonielife: A Conversation about Chronic Pain Expression and Alternative Social Worlds on Tumblr with EJ Gonzalez-Polledo and Jen Tarr: 307
Chapter 30. New Ways of Seeing: Tumblr, Young People, and Mental Illness | Natalie Ann Hendry: 315
Section 7. #myAesthetic: 327
Chapter 31. On the Value of the Social: A Conversation with Researchers about How Artists Use Tumblr with Carla McCutchin and Devon Murphy: 329
Chapter 32. Unofficial Archives of Urban Life: How to Rewrite the Canon of Cities | Annette Koh: 336
Chapter 33. Beyond the Pale Blog: Tumblr Pink and the Aesthetics of White Anxiety | Christine Goding-Doty: 344
Chapter 34. Tumblr’s Gallery of Loops: GIF Art Beyond Reaction GIF Culture | Jennifer Malkowski: 355
Gallery: #Original Art | Curated by Indira Neill Hoch: 367
Index: 383

Supplemental Materials

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 404pp.
  • 96 halftones, 4 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2020
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07456-3

Add to Cart
  • $60.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2020
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05456-5

Add to Cart
  • $34.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2020
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90129-6

Read Online


  • Tumblr, Social Media, Digital Media, Youth, youth culture, subcultures, Internet, Fans, Fandom, GIF culture, GIFsets, racebending, fancasting, textposts, imagines, Queer, Transgender, Race, Black Women, Misogynoir, Non-binary, Platforms, Social Justice, Activism, LGBTQ, Education, Popular Education, Media Ethics, Privacy, Spoonie Living, Disability, Chronic Pain worlds, stimming, Sexuality, Sex education, porn, alternative porn, Identity, media aesthetics