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Learning to Ugly-Cry Over Zoom

Presented by: Andi Schwartz, Morgan Bimm, and Sarah Redikopp


In this collaborative video project, we take an auto-theoretical (Fournier, 2018) approach to trace answers to the question: how has social isolation in the time of COVID-19 shaped new types of intimacies, as well as created new types of ruptures in intimacy? We are three femme academics who, using video technologies, developed deeper bonds with each other during quarantine. As we describe the details and affective tenor of moments in our online connections (and moments when these connections failed), we also describe the new forms of intimacy created by digital technologies, and the new ruptures in intimacy that they cause. For example, how does it feel to break down over video chat, for your sorrow to be witnessed by friends through a computer screen? How is FOMO (fear of missing out) intensified by realizing that those with the best internet connections are the best connected? Why do we feel compelled to still incorporate the tangible and material as we strive to extend care through the online practices, using the internet to orchestrate the delivery of meaningful gifts to each others’ doorsteps? Are digital technologies and digital connections ever only digital? Can we touch each other from a distance? Do we feel touched? Our video will be designed to convey connections and ruptures through visual and sonic cues in addition to our own descriptions. We ground our new explorations in existing research on virtual intimacies (McGlotten, 2013; Massimi & Neustaedter, 2014; Lomanowksa & Guitton, 2016) and scholarship which claims that, from a queer femme standpoint, crises in connection are nothing new (Connell, 2012; Schwartz, 2018, 2020); in fact, femmes, queers, disabled folks, and others have long found themselves at a distance from their social networks. We ask, what types of crises have connections via digital intimacies been helping femmes to navigate all along? 


Dr. Andi Schwartz is a Visiting Scholar in the School of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at York University. Her research interests include femme subjectivities, critical femininities, online subcultures and counterpublics, and radical softness. Her academic work has been published in Psychology & Sexuality, First Monday, Feral Feminisms, Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology, and the anthology On the Politics ofUgliness, edited by Sara Rodrigues and Ela Przybylo. She also co-authored a chapter on Carly Rae Jepsen for the anthology, The Spaces and Places of Canadian Pop Culture, edited by Neil Shyminsky and Victoria Kannen.

Morgan Bimm (she/her) is a PhD candidate in Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her dissertation research is a feminist cultural studies analysis of the television, films, and internet cultures of 2000s indie music subcultures. Her writing has also appeared in A.Side, Feminist Space Camp Magazine, and various zines.

Sarah Redikopp (she/her) is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program of Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies at York University, Canada. Sarah received her M.A. from Western University in Women’s Studies and Feminist Research, with support from SSHRC-CGSM, in 2018. Sarah’s current doctoral work is generously supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2018) and undertakes an intersectional analysis of self-harm in contexts of structural violence in Canada. Sarah’s research interests include political economies of mental health and madness, violence and mental healthcare, Mad Studies, and feminist and queer epistemologies. Sarah has published in areas of Critical Disability Studies and Feminist theory.

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