Emerging Voices: Reading Canadian Youth Online
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“Emerging Voices: Reading Canadian Youth Online” examines digital youth-generated cultural content, including text, intertext, visual art, photography and tweets. I argue that youth are not simply passive recipients of culture; they are cultural producers who have recently gained access to new audiences through the use of digital technology. This dissertation examines three communities of content producers: young Indigenous writers mobilizing traditional knowledges to address contemporary issues like residential school legacies, racism, and substance abuse; street-entrenched youth from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, BC creating multimedia content that disrupts the silence and stigma surrounding youth homelessness; and young feminists utilizing performative autobiography and self-portraiture to render the impacts of gender-based violence visible as part of the #YesAllWomen and #AmINext? Twitter movements. My analysis reveals that youth knowledges are highly generative and that the form of youth cultural production often reflects its content; just as youth knowledges are determined by intersecting identities and experiences, youth cultural content is created through intersecting media and modes of expression. Ultimately, my dissertation advocates for a model of cultural criticism that recognizes young people as knowledge producers, engages ethically and closely with their creative interventions, and attunes itself to the contexts and technologies that are shaping their work.