Sarah Florini, Assistant Professor (Film and Media Studies)

Sarah Florini

Film and Media Studies Assistant Professor Sarah Florini  joined the Department of English in fall 2016. Her book project, Blackness. There’s an App for That: Racial Politics and Black Digital Networks, delves into racial politics and analyzes the multi-media, trans-platform network of Black American digital media. The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, brought Black digital media networks to national attention. Florini’s work explores the larger social and cultural issues between 2011 and 2015. Leading up to and including the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, digital and social media has had to cope with experiences of racism as an incubator for discourses that have an impact on the national stage. The network is anchored in a cluster of Black independent podcasts, the independent media company This Week in Blackness (TWiB!), and "Black Twitter.”

“This network is a flexible resource for a variety of purposes,” says Florini, “including politics, social justice activism, grassroots journalism, and the creation of heterogeneous representations of Blackness, depending on the exigencies of a given moment.”  

Her approach incorporates cultural media studies, critical race theory, and African Diaspora research using ethnographic methods like participant interviews. Her main goal: to explore how Black Americans navigate social media. Florini postulates that these users negotiate the incongruence between the dominant racial discourse of “colorblindness” and their lived experiences. She argues that Black Americans employ digital media technologies to reject dominant racial discourses and redefine their identities, forge community, create alternative media representations, and organize politically.

Florini believes the Film and Media Studies program’s strength is the integration of critical approaches to media with training in professional industry skills, which “will build a sense of belonging and help encourage students' interest in media production and in being informed as consumers.”

Noor Alzubaidi

Photo courtesy Sarah Florini