Author Archives: meganboler

From Truthiness to Post-Truth: Trumpiness and its Casualties, or, bye-bye to post-Enlightenment affect studies…

Many of us are struggling to make sense of the changing relationship of news media, collective emotions, public crisis of trust, and information warfare in this era of Trumpiness.  My new research brings together the studies I have pursued throughout my career. In this frightening historical and political moment, I am working hard to bring together my inquiries into emotion, truthiness, and growing crisis of American trust in media since after 9/11, to provide an ontological account of how and when truths are produced, as an alternative to epistemological accounts. In outlining an ontological account of truth, I will be working to show how we can understand truth not as “content” but truth as an event, how truth happens.  We can now speak of the “Likelihood of Truth,” the conditions in which truths are produced, taken up.

Ironically, for those who have joined the affect theory bandwagon, excited to see emotion and affect finally given a palce on the Enlightenment stage: hold your seat.  Already we are seeing invocations of “reason,” “Enlightenment,” etc. as ways to bring back Truth.  Or, as the New York Times reifies in its recent ad, “The Truth” is making a return–arguably, for all the right reasons in an era of Trumpiness. But the progress made since the 1980s by scholars working to show how truths are produced, will now face a backlash not only from committed positivists, but from liberal and even potentially radical left sources seeking to reinstitute common truths to shore up against Trump and company.


Meanwhile, I want to highlight the work I’ve done that speaks to the zeitgeist and  history of the evolution of truthiness from the Bush Administration years to the present.  It is a mistake to consider “post-truth” a new phenomenon; as Colbert recently told us, “‘post-truth’ is just a rip off of ‘truthiness’.”

Follow me on Twitter as I am striving to note key analyses related to questions of the evolution of truthiness as we make sense of the contemporary crises of trust in credible sources and truthtelling within contexts of liberal democracies.

Here are some of my previous essays that provide backdrop to the current debates regarding “post-truth”:

“The Daily Show, Crossfire, and the Will to Truth,” Scan Journal of Media Arts Culture. Vol. 3, no. 1 (2006)

The Transmission of Political Critique after 9/11: “A New Form of Desperation”? M/C Journal 9.1 (2006)

Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times, M. Boler (2008) (Introduction, Megan Boler)

The Daily Show and Crossfire: Satire and Sincerity as Truth to Power (Chapter 17) (from Digital Media and Democracy, ed Boler, MIT Press 2008)

Boler, M and S. Nemorin. “Dissent, Truthiness, and Skepticism in the Global Media Landscape: twenty-first century propaganda in times of war,” in Oxford University Handbook of Propaganda, eds. R Castronovo and J Auerbach. (2013)

By Ian Reilly and Megan Boler

Hot Off the Press:

Boler, Megan. “Feminist Politics of Emotions and Critical Digital Pedagogies: A Call to Action.” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 130.5 (2015): 1489 – 1496. DOI:10.1632/pmla.2015.130.5.1489

Boler, Megan. “Motivations of alternative media producers: Digital dissent in action.” The Routledge companion to alternative and community media. Ed. Chris Atton. Routledge, 2015.

Recent publications from Professor Boler’s SSHRC-funded Research Project, “Social Media in the Hands of Young Citizens.” (2010-2014)

Boler, Megan, and Jennie Phillips. “FCJ-197 Entanglements with Media and Technologies in the Occupy Movement.” The Fibreculture Journal 26 2015: Entanglements–Activism and Technology. Eds. Pip Shea, Jean Burgess, and Tanya Notley (2015).

Boler, Megan, and Christina Nitsou. “Women Activists of Occupy Wall Street: Consciousness-Raising and Connective Action in Hybrid Social Movements.Cyberactivism on the Participatory Web. Routledge, 2014.

Boler, Megan, et al. “Connective labor and social media Women’s roles in the ‘leaderless’ Occupy movement.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 20.4 (2014): 438-460.


Boler, Megan. “From Existentialism to Virtuality.” Leaders in Philosophy of Education. SensePublishers, 2014. 31-48.

Reilly, Ian, and Megan Boler. “The Rally to Restore Sanity, prepoliticization, and the future of politics.” Communication, Culture & Critique 7.4 (2014): 435-452.

Boler, Megan and Selena Nemorin. “Dissent, Truthiness, and Skepticism in the Global Media Landscape: twenty-first century propaganda in times of war.”  Oxford University Handbook of Propaganda. Eds. Jonathan Auerbach and Russ Castronovo. Oxford University Press, 2014.

“DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media” (MIT Press, 2014)

The publication of our edited collection from MIT Press DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media convened a book launch in March at USC in Los Angeles, hosted by Henry Jenkins Kjerstin Thorson and Mike Ananny from University of Southern California Civic Paths Research Group.

The book then sparked a one-day symposium for the UK book launch of DIY Citizenship, convened by Mandy Rose and Amy Spencer, hosted by UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre at the Pervasive Media Studio, Watershed, Bristol.

Here is Parts 1 and 2 of Henry Jenkins blog interview of Boler and Ratto on DIY Citizenship…

2014 publications, hot off the press!

Just out: 2nd Edition of Martha McCaughey’s groundbreaking book for “Routledge Studies in New Media and Cyberculture.”  I am so pleased that Christina Nitsou and I were able to contribute a chapter!

Other forthcoming and recent publications:

Boler, M. and Christina Nitsou, Women Activists within the Leaderless Occupy Wall Street: Consciousness-Raising and Connective Action in Hybrid Social Movements, in McCaughey, M.(ed), Cyberactivism (second edition) NY: Routledge (2014).

Reilly, Ian and Megan Boler. “Satire and Social Change: The Rally to Restore Sanity and the Future of Politics,” Communication, Culture and Critique (forthcoming 2014)

Boler, Megan and Selena Nemorin. “21st Century Propaganda: the Shifting Landscape of News,” in Oxford University Handbook of Propaganda, eds R Castronovo and J Auerbach. (2013)

On the road…

Busy time upcoming of travel and talks on recent research.  Heading this week to London as one of the invited keynotes for Social Media, the fourth international Transforming Audiences conference 

In September, myself and two members of our Research Team (Averie Macdonald and Christina Nitsou) presenting at Social Media conference at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

In October, I am presenting at the World Social Science Forum in Montreal.

On October 31 I will be delivering the invited Kneller Lecture at the American Educational Studies Association October 31 in Baltimore.

Then flying to Monash University in Melbourne as invited Visiting Scholar for month of November!

Plus exciting news: Our DIY Citizenship edited book is forthcoming in January, huzzah!

Megan Boler speaking at Osgoode Law School

Saturday May 11, Plenary Roundtable: Gender and Censorship
11.00 am – 12.15 pm Oakham Lounge

Osgoode Law School Annual Conference, University of Toronto
Moderator: Savitri Gordian, LLM Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School

  • Professor Lisa Taylor, Ryerson University
  • Professor Megan Boler, University of Toronto
  • Professor Lynda Lange, University of Toronto

and if you’re in San Francisco

…come on down to the American Educational Research Associate conference (some 30,000 intl attendees!) and catch PI Dr Megan Boler discussing our SMRT research team’s preliminary findings on a panel titled “DIY Media & Youth Engagement.”

WHEN: Saturday April 27 at 2:15 pm. WHERE: Building/Room: Grand Hyatt, Ballroom Level – Grand Ballroom West

Dr. Boler’s talk,”From Apathy to Occupy Wall Street to 4th Wave Feminism: Youth Practices of Social Media and Participatory Democracy” will discuss new findings from our 20 interviews with women activists from the west and east coasts.  Our research questions include: How are social media shaping new, hybrid (on and offline) social movements? How is “horizontalism” as an organizational structure effecting the successes and challenges of movements such as Occupy Wall Street? What are the gender dynamics and women’s roles in Occupy movement? She will presenting alongside wonderful colleagues:

From Apathy to Occupy Wall Street to 4th Wave Feminism: Youth Practices of Social Media and Participatory Democracy

Megan Boler (University of Toronto)

Mirror Images: Avatar Aesthetics and Self-Representation in Digital Games

Suzanne de Castell (University of Ontario Institute of Technology)

Raising the Bar on “Voice” in a Troubled Community: Student Media Projects

Jennifer Jenson (York University)

DIY (Do It Yourself) Beyond the Screen: Creative, Critical, and Connected Making With E-Textiles

Yasmin B. Kafai (University of Pennsylvania)Kylie A. Peppler (Indiana University – Bloomington)

Embodied Semiosis: Autistic “Stimming” as Sensory Praxis

Jason D. Nolan (Ryerson University)Melanie C McBride (York University)

**This panel talk delivered by PI Dr Megan Boler comes Thanks to the superb and engaged collaborative work of the fabulous 2012-13 SMRT team of graduate researchers!



Upcoming Talk: The People vs. The System

Jennie Phillips

Come out this Friday and catch one of our SMRT Boler team members in action!

Jennie Phillips, PhD student at OISE studying disaster response and online communities, will be speaking at the Dynamics of Global Change Workshop this Friday April 26 hosted at Munk School, University of Toronto. She will be delivering a presentation titled “The People vs. The System: An Explanation of How Disaster Transforms Humanity and How The System Gets in The Way.” Discussion will cover the realities of disaster situations, promote the power of social capital and provoke reconsideration regarding how we go about planning for and responding to crisis. The aim of her talk is to encourage the way we think about preventing/mitigating, preparing for, responding to and recovering from crisis.

Registration for the event it free (and includes lunch):

A more detailed description of the event is below (from source):

Dynamics of Global Change Program 2013 Graduate Student Workshop

Friday, April 26, 2013
10:30 am to 4:00 pm

This workshop brings together doctoral students from across the university to present aspects of the their research, connected by the overarching theme of exploring the sources, structure, and pace—in short, dynamics—of change.

Professor Melissa Williams will deliver a lunchtime keynote address.

Session A (10am-12pm): Student Presentations

  • Ushnish Sengupta (OISE): Entrepreneurship as an Alternative Pathway to Self-Determination for Aboriginal Young Adults
  • Lameck Zingano (Anthropology): EcoCash Through a Cellular Technology
  • Jeff Myers (OISE): The Institution of Becoming Canadian and Global Justice: Incompatible?

Lunch and Keynote (12pm-2pm): “Glocalizing” Global Justice: Democratic Translations of Human” by Professor Melissa Williams

If there is such a thing as global justice, it demands two things of us, argues Melissa Williams (Political Science, University of Toronto): first, that we advance the real protection of human rights; and second, that we redress unjustifiable inequalities in the global distribution of wealth and opportunities. In general, philosophic perspectives on the problem of global justice (all of which are rooted in Western philosophic traditions) enjoin us to understand human rights as universal and distributive justice as contextual; that is, mediated by our membership in bounded political communities. But we might also adopt the perspective of the “glocal” citizen-activist who is trying to advance human rights and distributive justice in theord context of a globalized capitalist economy and networked transnational public space. If we do, we find a dynamic process of democratic translation taking place in which the polarities of human rights and social justice, universalism and contextualism, are reversed. Human rights now appear as contextual, and social justice appears as immanently) universal. Combining these perspectives opens up new pathways for understanding multiple sites and scales of activism as complementary contributions to a global system of human rights and social justice.

Session B (2pm-4pm): Student Presentations

  • Jennie Phillips (OISE): The People vs. The System: An Explanation of How Disaster Transforms Humanity and How The System Gets in The Way
  • Wilfrid Greaves (Political Science): Climate Change, Indigeneity, and Security in the Circumpolar Arctic
  • Jodi Adams (Political Science): Dynamics of Carbon Sinks in the CDM: Actors, Interests and Ideas
  • Alicia Grubb (Computer Science): Comparing Temporal and Scalar Aspects of Systems Models


Research Update

Hello to all out there in cyberland!

Averie from the Boler Research Team here to post a little update on our progress.

We are headed into the last month of our year-long Graduate Research Assistantships working on Dr. Boler’s SSHRC-funded project about “Youth, Social media, and Social movements” — there are still so many things we would love to accomplish with this project!  Here’s an update on some of our exciting progress over the last months.

In our last research update, we were just entering the transcription phase of our project — we had 13 interviews with women (and a few men) who participated in the Occupy movement in California. We started by transcribing all 13 interviews (some with multiple participants) by hand, using some awesome free transcription software called f5.

Then came the coding! We engaged a “Grounded Theory” approach to coding, which we’ve been reading up on as a team. However, our process also bears some resemblance to a more general inductive approach, such as the one described by David R. Thomas in this article.

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Megan’s forthcoming books, essays, talks…

Principal Investigator Dr. Megan Boler and her 2012-13 research team of OISE graduate students

are concluding a productive second year of her three-year SSHRC funded research project “Social Media in the Hands of Young Citizens,” a qualitative research project featuring semi-structured interviews with young women participants in new hybrid (on/offline) social movements.

Professor Boler has two edited books forthcoming as well as numerous journal articles and chapters:

DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2014 (ed. with Matt Ratto)

Discerning Critical Hope, London: Routledge, 2013 (eds. V Bozalek, B. Leibowitz, R. Carollissen, and M. Boler).

Forthcoming essays include:

  • Megan Boler and Selena Nemorin, Handbook of Propaganda Studies, Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Ian Reilly and Megan Boler, “Stewart and Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity, the Pre-political, and the Future of Politics,” forthcoming Communication Culture and Critique.
  • M. Boler,  “Gender and the Politics of Horizontalism in Hybrid Social Movements,” in Martha McCaughey, ed.,  “Cyberactivism: 2nd edition,” (New York: Routledge 2014).
  • M. Boler, “Affect and Pedagogy in Neo-Liberal Spaces,” PMLA Journal of the Modern Language Association, 2014.
  • M. Boler, “Transcending Binaries in Affect Theories,” Response to Kneller Lecture, Philosophy of Education Society Meeting, Philosophy of Education Society Yearbook, 2014.
  • M. Boler, “#OccupyPatriarchy: Will the 4th Wave Be a Swell or a Ripple?” in “Women in a Globalizing World: Transforming Equality, Development, Diversity and Peace,” ed. by Angela Miles, Inanna Publications and Education Inc. 2013.

On April 12, Dr. Boler presented as an invited panelist at the 4th Biennial Transmedia, Hollywood conference in Los Angeles, and is presenting her research as well at the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco on April 27.

Invited speaking engagement and keynotes this year include:

  • Invited Inaugural Keynote,  “Education and the Discomforts of Change,” “Teaching in Focus Conference,” Teaching Commons, York University May 27, 2013·

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