StAIGS Seminar Series: Dr Zoë Shacklock The Category Is: Streaming Queer Television
The St Andrews Institute for Gender Studies Seminar Series features researchers across the university working on gender-related topics. This week, Dr Zoë Shacklock will be discussing her work on streaming services and queer television.
Abstract: Streaming television is often seen as a progressive space for queer representation, due to the wealth of queer people and stories found across its programmes. Yet for queer people to be seen on streaming television, they must first be made visible at the level of the interface, which determines which programmes are presented to users and in what ways. Through the organisation of the interface, streaming television acts as a discursive formation that constructs knowledge about what it means to be queer. Borrowing from both Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Lynne Joyrich, I argue that streaming television constructs an epistemology of the category, in which queerness is presented as categorisable and predictable. I explore how the two key features of streaming television's interfaces – categories and algorithms – construct an understanding of queerness as normatively visible and inseparable from consumer choice. Yet while streaming giants construct a neoliberal understanding of normatively visible and consumable queerness, queer-specific streaming services such as Revry offer a different, “messier” understanding of queer lives, suggesting that streaming television holds the potential of a more radical interface with queerness.