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Reading YouTube

The Critical Viewers Guide


Anandam Kavoori

How does one make sense of YouTube? There is no reliable sample of videos on YouTube; no easily identifiable way to determine its dominant themes; no way to evaluate quality or impact; no seminal literature. Through genre analysis and digital media criticism, this book presents an accessible, yet critical introduction to «reading» YouTube. The book identifies certain videos by genre – from The Phenom and The Short to The Morph and The Experiment – and provides a thumbnail textual analysis of the videos – from celebrity culture to identity politics – that make up each of these genres. Each one starts with a brief summary/background followed by a theoretically informed mapping of the key issues. Designed primarily for classroom use, the book develops a conceptual language for students to use as they engage with the complex, interactive texts of YouTube and digital culture more generally.