Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology
B.A. in Anthropology, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Internet cultures; online identity formation and performance; participatory culture; fandom and fan labor
Rachel received her B.A. in Anthropology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2015, where she pursued research focused on internet culture, fan culture, and the intersections between them. She is primarily interested in the idea of subculture identity, and how the members of niche communities both form and express identities in ways that set them apart from other subcultures. To this end she has studied acts of fan labor as ritual practice both at offline fan gatherings and online fan communication networks. She has also conducted fieldwork in online discussion communities such as 4chan and Reddit, studying differences in linguistic expression between different website formats. During her senior year as an undergraduate, Rachel spent a semester in Japan, where she became interested in the world of fujoshi, a subculture of women in various fan communities united by their interest in male-male erotica, which is produced and distributed using franchise characters within the gray market.
As a graduate student at Colorado State University, Rachel hopes to continue work on understanding the way the internet has changed and will continue to change the way people communicate and connect with each other, especially in niche interest communities. Working under Dr. Jeff Snodgrass, Rachel hopes to expand her research into MMOs and other virtual spaces, while also shifting focus to the negotiation of identity within a niche community and the world beyond, and the impact of that negotiation on personal wellbeing.
Rachel's other interests include playing MMOs for decidedly non-academic reasons, creative writing, and digital art.