Graduate Student Highlight: Steven Wang

Steven Wang headshot Name: Steven Wang

Expected Graduation: Summer 2021

Twitter: @StevenWangYD


SJMC is proud to have some of the most outstanding students anywhere. From scholarship and research to their work in the community, J-Schoolers are making their mark on the world and living out the Wisconsin Idea. One such J-Schooler, Ph.D. student Steven Wang, was recently named Advocate of the Year by the OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center. We caught up with Steven to hear more about him and what he hopes to do after graduation.

What is the focus of your research and your dissertation?

My broad research agenda is concerned with citizen media, journalism, platform technologies, and how they work together to facilitate discourses of social change. The particular focus of my research is on minority communities and advocacy around alternative social designs. For my dissertation, I conducted a multisite case study of queer media ecology in China and the United States. I integrated some community-engaged elements into this study and situated evidence from interviews, participant observation, and documentary research within community organizing on the ground. In this dissertation, I theorized how “queer disequilibriums” were already embedded in a communication ecology to shape social networks and how media reproduced or transformed power dynamics in the ecology.

Another thread of my research looks at the role of technological systems as material and affective infrastructures. In my master thesis on Hong Kong localist movement, I analyzed the ways cultural identity was articulated through alternative media networks afforded by digital publishing technologies. In a project on the platformization of pornography, I studied the Twitter feeds of gay porn stars and explicated how they used social media to perform authenticity and intimacy. I am now working with an artist on a project that explores the affect of digital cruising. We are recreating a virtual reality installation based on the use of geosocial dating applications among gay men.

What awards or other honors have you received?

I have received generous support from the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies to fund my research. I was in the 2019 cohort of the center’s Summer Scholars and awarded the Top-Up Fellowship in 2020.

I was among the 2019 recipients of the Summer Fieldwork Award from the Institute for Regional and International Studies. I used the award for the part of my dissertation fieldwork in China.

I was selected as a Public Humanities Exchange Scholar by the Center for Humanities for my community work with local LGBTQ organizations.

I was also named the Advocate of the Year by the OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center.

What types of jobs are you looking for after graduation?

I would like to continue my career as a scholar, educator, and organizer in an academic position that values the co-production of knowledge between scholarship and community work. I would also be happy to work for a corporate institute or nonprofit organization with the vision to serve minority communities and use research to inform structural change. As a volunteer, I have been doing professional communication work such as content production, audience engagement, and media relations for multiple nonprofit organizations. I want to further develop that line of work as an integral part of my career.

Any other fun facts you’d like to share?

I used to do stage directing in college. And I’m still a big fan of all kinds of theatre.