Anthony Kelly

Anthony Kelly

PhD Researcher

Department of Media and Communications

About me

Research topic

Voices of Outrage: Affect, alterity, and American right-wing media discourse

Over the past several decades, major structural transformations in the global media environment have laid the groundwork for a significant propagation in the number of partisan media outlets in the US. These partisan media emphasize political alterity whilst privileging particular ideological positions over opposing viewpoints, presenting some important empirical challenges not just to the ideal of rational-critical debate that has been framed as central to deliberative models in democratic theory but also to the ideal of objectivity that was vaunted as a defining characteristic of American journalistic practice from the early 20th century.

Within this post-objectivist space for partisan content, an outrage-based business model has become a salient feature of the American political information cycle. Although outrage discourse is to be found in both liberal and conservative media, it is notably more prevalent among conservative outlets, constituting a potent force in contemporary American conservatism. Seizing on the fragmentation that now pervasively defines media audiences across various medialities and modalities, right-wing outrage discourse constitutes an affect-driven approach to the mediation of political positionality and, further, what it means to identify—and be identified—as a “true conservative” and “real American”.

These are media forms with potentially wide-ranging social consequences in terms of their power to promote differential visions of the topography of the political universe, including the social types by which it is populated. Yet if it is the power to perform the categories of ‘us’ and ‘them’ that defines the power of mediation, then the emergence of more participatory media formats starkly problematizes the question of how such power might best be conceptualized in the context of a hybrid media system that blends older and newer media as well as their associated logics.

Drawing on the literatures of qualitative political communication, critical discourse analysis, and linguistic anthropology, my thesis presents an approach to the topic of right-wing outrage that emphasizes the more participatory practices of audience activity which characterize contemporary modes of hybrid media engagement, in particular their political dimensions. Through an empirical focus on a conservative news and opinion website, my research offers an ethnographically-informed account of how mediated discourses of right-wing outrage get voiced not just by political and media elites, but more specifically by audiences qua publics.

In so doing, my thesis seeks to foreground the ways in which audience participation actively recontextualizes the polarized models of social identity and political personhood on which the outrage business model rhetorically operates—not just recycling and reproducing, but also challenging and contesting. I see this as an important response to academic and journalistic treatments of right-wing media that have largely focused on audience passivity and misinformation and which have yet to offer a thorough account of how right-wing movements attempt to gain traction in the frequently commercialized spaces of digitally mediated protest that globally heretofore have been largely dominated by their left-wing counterparts, such as Occupy and Indignados.

Supervisors: Dr Nick Anstead and Professor Nick Couldry

Biography

Anthony received a European Joint Masters in Cultural Differences and Transnational Processes (CREOLE) in 2009, based at Stockholms universitet, L’Universite Lumiere Lyon 2, and Maynooth University. His MA thesis, ‘Psychodrama and the objectified textualized self: regulatory metadiscourse, prosthetic fictions, and the performance of (online) identity,’ was based on 18 months of digital ethnography in the context of a social network site targeted at gay users and explored the ways in which textualized online identity performances confounded the roles of author and reader.

Anthony received a BA (International) in French and Anthropology in 2007, based at Maynooth University and L’Universite de Toulouse II – Le Mirail. He was awarded the Prix Lombard by the Department of French at Maynooth University for the best undergraduate dissertation in French, as well as the Conrad Arensberg Prize in Anthropology, offered to the best overall student in anthropology at BA level.

Scholarships

  • NUI Travelling Studentship in Media and Communications, 2014
  • LSE Department of Media and Communications Research Studentship, 2014
  • Bourse MIRA, 2007

Expertise

media hybridity; partisan media; US politics; right-wing movements; participation; performance; discourse; entextualization; talk

Publications

Livingstone, S., Stoilova, M., & Kelly, A. (2016) Cyberbullying: incidence, trends and consequences. In United Nations, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Ending the torment: tackling bullying from the schoolyard to cyberspace  (pp. 115-122). New York, NY: United Nations. Retrieved from http://srsg.violenceagainstchildren.org/sites/default/files/2016/End%20bullying/bullyingreport.pdf.

Kelly, A. (2013) Doing it Digitally: Methodological Tensions in Online Ethnography. Irish Journal of Anthropology 16(1), pp.  47-53

Teaching

2016-17 Teaching Associate (Queen Mary University of London)

As a teaching associate, I serve as seminar tutor on the module Social and Political Marketing, offered to final year undergraduates. Within the module, I also deliver a lecture on trends in the partisan adoption of technology, particularly as this relates to the various impacts of participatory culture on emerging practices of social and political marketing.

2012-13 Assistant Lecturer in Anthropology (Maynooth University, Ireland)

As an assistant lecturer in anthropology I designed and delivered three 12-week, seminar-based modules: Political Media, Digital Anthropology, and Globalisation. These modules were offered to final year undergraduates, taught postgraduates, and PhD researchers.

2010-12 Second Year Tutor (Maynooth University, Ireland)

As second year tutor, I served as an undergraduate teaching assistant to Dr Patty Gray, Dr Jamie Saris, and Dr Mark Maguire, offering tutorials on theory and method in anthropology with responsibility for the entire second year cohort.

Conferences

“Recontextualizing right-wing outrage in an era of post-television news participation” at BRESTOLON: The meaning of mediatized social order and action, Stockholm, 2016

Chair. Panel: “Agency—Virtual and Actual” at LSE Media and Communications PhD Symposium 2015—Struggle and Resistance in Media and Communications: Structure versus Agency?, LSE, 2015

“Talking Politics and Texting Selves: Linguistic Anthropological Reflections on the Regulation of Discourse and Identity in Digitally-Mediated Domains” at Erasmus Intensive Programme – Imagination: Translations – cultural, ethnographic, intermedia, Maynooth University, 2013

“The Production of the Populist: On the Indeterminacy of Participant Roles in Political Mass Mediation” at Maynooth University Department of Anthropology Seminar, Maynooth University, 2012

“‘This is getting a bit Gaydar, isn’t it?’: Tracing Trajectories of Ideology, Enregisterment, and Risk in an Online Social Network” at 111th American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting: Borders and Crossings, San Francisco, 2012

“Producing Populist Politics: A Linguistic Anthropological Analysis of Glenn Beck” at 12thEuropean Association of Social Anthropologists Biennial Conference: Uncertainty and Disquiet, University of Paris, Nanterre, 2012

“Paranoid, Pedagogue, Demiurge, Demagogue: Blackboard Didactics, Visual Rhetorics, and the Performance of Evidence in the Works of Glenn Beck” at The Art of Anthropology, University of Ulster, Belfast, 2011

Chair. Panel: “Borders and Migration” at 8th International Moving Anthropology Student Network Conference, Maynooth University, 2010

Chair. Panel: “New Identities” at Erasmus Intensive Programme – Relationality and the Principle of Diversity, University of Vienna, 2010

“Speech Styles and the Queering of Cyberspace: Contesting Modes of Textual Enselfment in an Online Social Network” at Erasmus Intensive Programme: Relationality and the Principle of Diversity, University of Vienna, 2010

“Mediascapes, Virtuality, and Neologic Creativity in US Political Discourse” at Irish Media Research Network Postgraduate Conference, Dublin City University, 2009

“Design, Convergence, and the Limits of Social Network Sites” at Ethnography, Creativity, Design, Intel and Maynooth University, 2009

“Trust Me, I’m a Social Network Profile” at Anthropological Crossings: Memory, Identity and Belonging in an Interconnected World, Queen’s University Belfast, 2009