Carrie Rentschler

Associate Professor,
William Dawson Scholar of Feminist Media Studies

B.A. (Minn.), M.A., Ph.D. (Ill.-Urbana-Champaign)

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Professor Rentschler’s research examines the relationship between media making, social movement activism, and the construction of new political subjectivities.  She studies this relationship in the context of movements against gender and racial violence, experiences of victimization and social trauma, and structures of feminist organizing online and via social media.  Her first book, Second Wounds: Victims Rights and the Media in the U.S. (Duke University Press, 2011), retells the recent history of crime and disaster media from the perspective of victims’ rights reforms and publicity practices, through which the secondary victim of crime emerged as a political agent emboldened with rights to representation. She is co-editor of Girlhood Studies and the Politics of Place (Berghahn Press, 2016), a collection of essays that examine how place shapes the meanings and practices of girlhood and girls’ agency.  She co-edited a 2014 special issue of Girlhood Studies that challenges the crisis-framework of public discourse about girlhood, and a 2015 special issue of Feminist Theory, “Doing Feminism: Event, Archive, Techné," on the links between making media and doing feminism. Her next book analyzes the construction of the bystander as a key agent of social intervention in gender and racial violence, and the media practices that deploy and make visible the bystander as an agent of social change. Her other current projects examine the shape and practice of contemporary feminisms in social media networks and hashtag publics, the role of humour in feminist organizing and media making, and feminist uses of social media to disrupt rape culture. She is a member of FemTechNet and FemBot, two feminist collectives whose members collaboratively teach, research and develop new models of open-access teaching and scholarly publication, respectively. 

Prof. Rentschler teaches courses on media and social movements, emergent media and new practices of social dissent, media and the politics of emotion and affect, spectatorship and mediated witnessing, emergent forms of social collectivity, feminist media studies, feminist theories and methods, and cultural studies approaches to media research. She works with graduate students across a range of research areas related broadly to media activism, emergent and social media, new social movement formations, mediated affects, communication in social collectives, feminism, gender and sexuality studies, and qualitative approaches in media studies, Cultural Studies, and feminist theory.   

Her research is supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds Québécoise de la Recherche sur la Société et Culture, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Media@McGill, the William Dawson Scholar fund and seed grants from McGill University. 

Select Publications:


Girlhood and the Politics of Place, with co-editor Claudia Mitchell (New York: Berghahn Press), 2016.
Second Wounds: Victims’ Rights and the Media in the U.S.(Durham, NC: Duke University Press), 2011.

Journal Issues

“Doing Feminism: Event, Archive, Techné.” Co-editor with Samantha Thrift, Feminist Theory, 16:3 (2015).
“Cultural Studies and the Re-Description of Girlhood in Crisis.” Co-editor with Claudia Mitchell, Girlhood Studies 7:1 (2014).


“Doing Feminism in the Network: Networked Laughter and the Binders Full of Women Meme” co-authored with Samantha Thrift, Feminist Theory 16(3), 2015, 329-359.
“Rape Culture and the Feminist Politics of Social Media” in press, Girlhood Studies 7:1 (2014), 65-82.
“Distributed Activism: Domestic Violence and Feminist Media Infrastructure in the Fax Age” accepted for publication in Communication, Culture & Critique 8:2 (2014), 182-198.
“#safetytipsforladies: Feminist Twitter Takedowns of Victim Blaming” Feminist Media Studies 15:2 (2014), 353-356.
“On S’En Câlisse, La Loi Speciale: The Music Festival that Wasn’t” Wi: Journal of Mobile Media, (2012).
“An Urban Physiognomy of the 1964 Kitty Genovese Murder,” Space & Culture 14:3 (2011), 310-329.
“The Physiognomic Turn,” International Journal of Communication 4 (2010), 1-6.
“Trauma Training and the Reparative Work of Journalism.” Cultural Studies 24:4 (2010), 447-477.

Book Chapters

“The Significance of Place in Girlhood Studies” (co-authored with Claudia Mitchell). In Girlhood and the Politics of Place, ed. Claudia Mitchell and Carrie Rentschler. Berghahn Press (2016), 1-18.
“Technologies of Bystanding: Learning to See Like a Bystander.” In Shaping Inquiry in Culture, Communication and Media Studies, ed. Sharrona Pearl. Routledge (2015), 15-40.
​“From Danger to Trauma: Affective Labor and the Journalistic Discourse of Witness.” In Media Witnessing: Testimony in the Age of Mass Communication, ed. Paul Frosh and Amit Pinchevski.  Palgrave Macmillan (2009), 152-175.