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Digital masks: screens, selves and symbolic hygiene in online higher education

Gourlay, Lesley; (2022) Digital masks: screens, selves and symbolic hygiene in online higher education. Learning, Media and Technology , 47 (3) pp. 398-406. 10.1080/17439884.2022.2039940. Green open access

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Abstract

Given the central role of digital devices and screens in academic work, their use and our relationship to them are under-theorised in mainstream research into digital education. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, rendered the use of digital screens central to life in ‘lockdowns’. This paper will consider the relationships between digital screens and anti-epidemic face masks, considering these artefacts in terms of functionality, academic subjectivities and epistemic practices, drawing on sociomaterial perspectives, Goffman's categories of lecturing self, and the history of anti-epidemic mask-wearing. I illustrate this with a vignette of teaching via digital screens, given by a member of faculty in an interview study exploring the impact of the lockdown on university staff. It will conclude that the digital screen may be viewed as a ‘digital mask’; carrying out a practical function, but also performing an ideology of hygiene and reason. The implications for digital higher education post-pandemic are discussed.

Type: Article
Title: Digital masks: screens, selves and symbolic hygiene in online higher education
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2022.2039940
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2022.2039940
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Screens, asynchronous teaching, pandemic, Goffman, masks
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10143552
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