The furry fandom is a loose-knit online subculture of fans devoted to anthropomorphic animal characters. Furries are not necessarily fans of specific media properties, but instead often create their own media, including the “fursona,” an anthropomorphic animal character to represent oneself in the community. Conducting empirical research through interviews, participant observation, auto ethnography, and virtual ethnography, I have sought to understand this aspect of furry identity and sociality through a number of disciplinary lenses. In this thesis, I argue that furry queers fandom through several interrelated processes: severing fandom from textual objects; developing queer sex publics; paving new pathways to queer becoming; and displacing online identity through stylized, affective modes of embodiment. These fan practices, as articulated through the fursona, cohere into a queer worlding of virtual spaces.
About Ben Silverman
Ben Silverman is an electronic musician, multimedia artist, software developer, and humanities researcher interested in participatory culture, archives, fandom studies, queer online subcultures, and the ethnographic study of virtual worlds. More generally, his research concerns the ways that groups of people organize and behave socially online, and the affective aspects of human-computer interaction.
Before attending MIT, Ben earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music at Brown University with a concentration in computer music. Towards this undergraduate degree, he produced an honors thesis in ethnomusicology regarding fandom and labor in an online music file-sharing community. In addition, Ben received the Buxtehude Premium and Brand Musical Premium departmental awards during his studies at Brown.
At MIT, Ben works with the HyperStudio Laboratory for Digital Humanities. He is interested in the ways in which software and interfaces can be leveraged within the context of multimedia archives, pedagogy, and humanities research.
In his free time, Ben enjoys composing music, making videos, cooking with his partner, drawing, and watching cute animal videos.