Brianna I. Wiens

Assistant Professor

Photo of Brianna Wiens.

PhD, York University
MA, University of Colorado Boulder
BA, University of Waterloo

Extension: 41284



My research program examines how people use media in critical and creative ways to foster community and speak back to power, and I explore how we build community through digital technology while negotiating its complex power dimensions. Since my MA (Communication: Rhetoric and Culture, CU Boulder) and my PhD (Communication and Culture, York University), I’ve been interested in the ways that people engage in rhetorical resistance by speaking back to systems in power, and the ways that these rhetorics offer critical sources of data that form the basis of community-centred change. My MA explored mediations of activist graffiti and the politics of their aesthetics on social media, while my doctoral work was dedicated to developing a theoretical framework (what I called intersectional entanglements) for grappling with the complexities of online phenomena, like digital social movements, through the example of #MeToo. These experiences directly inform my overarching research goals, which are to: (1) highlight equitable alternatives to normative media practices; (2) amplify the work of racialized, queer, disabled, and other equity-deserving groups; and (3) embrace multiple forms of expertise, knowledge, and lived experience.

To work towards these research goals, I work at the intersections of digital culture, rhetoric, and feminist media studies. Across these fields, I leverage queer and intersectional feminist perspectives to examine the rhetorics, politics, and design of technologies and digital artifacts, and I ask questions about power at individual, community, and structural levels. My commitment to academia is also a commitment to political mobilizing and to scholarly activism—a constant feminist reminder that the personal (as well as community and structural) is political. Because of this, my interdisciplinary work inevitably draws on my own experience as a mixed-race queer activist-scholar. Alongside my colleague and co-conspirator, Dr. Shana MacDonald, I am the Co-Director of the Feminist Think Tank, a research-creation collective that advances research on feminist media, art, and design, out of which we co-run the digital archive Feminists Do Media (Instagram: @aesthetic.resistance).

Selected Publications

Edited Books

Wiens, Brianna I., Shana MacDonald, Michelle MacArthur, and Milena Radzikowska (eds.). Forthcoming Winter 2023. Stories of Feminist Protest and Resistance: Digital Performative Assemblies. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

MacDonald, Shana, Brianna I. Wiens, Michelle MacArthur, and Milena Radzikowska (eds.). 2021. Networked Feminisms: Activist Assemblies and Digital Practices. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Recent Articles

MacDonald, Shana and Brianna I. Wiens. Forthcoming 2023. “Meme-ifying Data: The Rise of Public Health Influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter during Covid-19.” JDSR: Journal of Digital Social Research.

Wiens, Brianna I., Shana MacDonald, and Aynur Kadir. Forthcoming 2023. “Feminist Shadow Networks: ‘Thinking, Talking, and Making’ as Praxes of Relationality and Care.” Digital Studies/Le Champ Numérique. 10.16995/dscn.9572

Wiens, Brianna I. and Shana MacDonald. Forthcoming 2024. “Dwelling as Method: Lingering in/with Feminist Curated Data Sets on Instagram.” Special Issue of JDSR: Methodological Developments in Visual Politics & Protest.

Wiens, Brianna I. and Shana MacDonald. Forthcoming 2024. “Witches in Swamps, Sirens at Sea, and Leviathans of the Deep: Feminist Figures that Haunt Social Media Worlds.”  Special Issue of PULBIC: The Witch Institute.

Wiens, Brianna I. and Shana MacDonald. 2021. “Living Whose Best Life? An Intersectional Feminist Interrogation of Postfeminist #Solidarity in #SelfCare.” NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies, Special Issue on #Solidarity 10(1), 219-242.

Wiens, Brianna. I, Stan Rucker, Jennifer Roberts-Smith, Milena Radzikowska, and Shana MacDonald. 2020. “Materializing Data: New Research Methods for Feminist Digital Humanities.” Digital Studies/Le Champ Numérique 10(1): 13, 1-22. dscn.373

Wiens, Brianna I. and Shana MacDonald. 2020. “Feminist Futures: #MeToo’s Possibilities as Poiesis, Techné, and Pharmakon.” Feminist Media Studies 21(7): 1108-1124.

MacDonald, Shana and Brianna I. Wiens. 2019. “Mobilizing the ‘Multi-Mangle’: Why New Materialist Research Methods in Public Participatory Art Matter.” Leisure Sciences, Special Issue on Posthumanism 41(5): 366-384.

Recent Book Chapters

MacDonald, Shana and Brianna I. Wiens. Forthcoming 2024. “Back to the Future of Postfeminist Film: Hallmark, Netflix, and the ‘New’ Woman’s Holiday Film.” In Countdown to Hallmark (Routledge Advances in Popular Culture Studies), edited by Carlen Lavigne. Routledge.

Wiens, Brianna I., Michelle MacArthur, and Shana MacDonald. 2023. “Assemblies of Resistance: Feminist Stories, Protest, and Dissent in the Digital Age.” In Stories of Feminist Protest and Resistance: Digital Performative Assemblies, edited by Brianna I. Wiens, Michelle MacArthur, Shana MacDonald, and Milena Radzikowska. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 1-17.

Wiens, Brianna I. Forthcoming. “How To Use Creative and Embodied Digital Methods.” In SAGE Research Methods: Doing Research Online, edited by Kasia Figiel. Sage Publications.

Wiens, Brianna I. Forthcoming. “(Re)designing Feminist Futures: ‘Vital Structuring’ as Critical Praxis. In Design in the Anthropocene, edited by Milena Radzikowska, Guillaume Englert Correa Meyer, and Stan Ruecker. MIT Press.

MacDonald, Shana and Brianna I. Wiens. Forthcoming. “We Still Don’t Understand We’re at War”: Media Toxicity and Social Media Disinformation Ecologies.” In Design in the Anthropocene, edited by Milena Radzikowska, Guillaume Englert Correa Meyer, and Stan Ruecker. MIT Press.

MacDonald, Shana and Brianna I. Wiens. 2022. “Feminist Memes: Digital Communities, Identity Performance, and Resistance from the Shadows.”  In Materializing Digital Futures: Touch, Movement, Sound and Vision, edited by Toija Cinque and Jordan Beth fVincent. Bloomsbury.

Wiens, Brianna I. 2021. “Virtual Dwelling: Feminist Orientations to Digital Communities.” In Networked Feminisms: Activist Assemblies and Digital Practices, edited by Shana MacDonald, Brianna I. Wiens, Michelle MacArthur, and Milena Radzikowska. Lexington Books.

Fellowships and Awards

  • PI, UW/SSHRC Explore Seed Grant, University of Waterloo, 2023
  • PI, UW Games Institute Seed Grant, 2022
  • Provost Scholarship for Outstanding Doctoral Research (2020–2021)
  • SSHRC Doctoral Award (2020–2021)
  • Communication & Media Studies Emerging Scholar Award (2020)
  • Volkswagenstiftung Foundation Grant (2020)
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Doctoral (2018–2020)
  • Doctoral Graduate Fellowship (2016–2020)

Current Research

I’m currently working on a series of related projects that think about solidarity, digital feminisms, and resistance. First, I’m wrapping up a companion anthology to my recent co-edited collection (Networked Feminisms, Lexington) titled Stories of Feminist Protest and Resistance: Digital Performative Assemblies. This collection focuses on how feminists resist through creating the kinds of spaces that center people who have been marginalized, without pathologizing their everyday discrimination, so that stories that have been silenced can be amplified, gain momentum, and flourish. Second, I’m working on a manuscript that outlines “intersectional entanglements,” the theoretical framework I developed during my doctoral work. Intersectional entanglements offer an approach to analyzing the pressing social movements of our time, like #MeToo, turning us towards the complex and interrelated technocultural, sociopolitical, material, and power interactions of digitally mediated spaces. Last, alongside Dr. MacDonald, I’m co-writing a monograph on Utopic Refusals: Aesthetic Resistance and Justice Through Intersectional Feminist Media. This book is a formalization of the method of following our hunches and our curiosities––of dwelling, and collecting, and collaborating, and remediating, and of poking and prodding at the status quo––to chart major feminist happenings from 2012-2022. We follow the trail of feminist uses of aesthetic media resistance and analyze them for the ways they foster kinships to explore, name, and respond to community.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

  • Feminist media studies  
  • Feminist and queer affect studies
  • Feminist new materialisms and posthumanisms
  • Digital activisms and networked social movements
  • Social media cultures
  • Rhetorics of design
  • Design equity, data feminism, and data justice
  • Critical approaches to technology