Tumblr Ephemera: Feeling Backwards towards Digital Pasts


Mary Byrne (The Ohio State University)

This paper explores Tumblr as a site of digital ephemera. Popular from roughly 2010-2018-- with a precipitous decline in usership after the 2018 ban on NSFW content-- Tumblr is simultaneously the site of a generation’s queer awakening and a social space now deemed “cringe.” Although TikTok now dominates the lesbian social media scene, Tumblr cultivated the development of not just queer community, but the rise of “social justice culture” that now constitutes mainstream Internet discourse. This paper explores queer peoples’ affective orientations towards Tumblr. What could it mean to "feel backwards" to understand Internet pasts that are still quite present?

Part of 14-05 Lesbian Digital Archives: Virtually Curating and Creating Queer Desire and Community, Monday, October 18, 2:15 pm–3:45 pm