Volume 50, Issue 4 p. 1589-1602

The ethical sensations of im-mediacy: Embodiment and multiple literacies in animal rights activists’ learning with media technologies

Tanner Vea

Corresponding Author

Tanner Vea

Address for correspondence: Tanner Vea, Pennsylvania State University, 314E Keller Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA. Email: [email protected]

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First published: 09 May 2019
Citations: 8


In this paper, I consider a social movement for animal rights as a site of learning about a particular form of ethics. I use a multiliteracies framework, which emphasizes critical consumption and creation across a range of media forms, to consider how learning unfolds using a different kind of medium: the affective body. Activists in this study learned to read the signs of their embodied encounters with nonhuman animals as a privileged mode for understanding their ethical truth. Then they used other forms of digital mediation to produce and spread the feelings of being present with animals for others. I discuss social media memes and virtual reality as two examples. I employ the term “im-mediacy” to emphasize both the affects of feeling present and the sense-making involved in mediation and its ideologies. This approach considers affect and semiosis as mutually constitutive processes in learning. The findings also suggest the need to consider the affects produced in learning environments that bring bodies in proximity to one another, or that use technology to mediate feelings of proximity, as well as what I describe as embodied literacies for sensing the needs of others and responding with care.