Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Scott Ferguson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amy Rust, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brendan Cook, Ph.D.


BreadTube, Digital media, Queer theory, YouTube


Digital media comprises a diverse ecology of creative genres, institutions, communities,platforms, and entrepreneurial businesses. Yet despite its practical association with variegated social forms, digital mediation as such is often theorized as a logic of homogenization, problematically obscuring its heterogeneously contested character. This article reconceives mediation as an irreducibly multi-scalar and heterogeneous infrastructure, recasting online activity as contested participation in wider social contexts. I am contributing to a counter tendency in media studies that methodologically treats digital forms as polysemic, ambiguous and contested, rather than necessarily homogenizing, in the context of specific cases. Drawing out the theoretical implications of this methodology for digitality as such, I gesture towards a more reflexive and empowering posture for digital media with respect to its social and political meaning. To do so, I examine the queer YouTube channel ContraPoints as a media case study that productively grapples with these stakes. ContraPoints creator Natalie Wynn consistently disavows digital forms as homogenizing, but this is in tension with her queer aesthetic modality, which opens these forms to ambiguity and collective meaning-making. The often theatrically mediated tension between Wynn’s reductive arguments about digital media and the queer aesthetic logics of her channel validates a heterogeneous reading of digital media as such. Drawing out similarities between Wynn’s aesthetic mode and the above counter tendency in media studies, I bring the insights of each to bear on digitality as such, articulating a more reflexive orientation for digital media as contested participation.