Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine (CBSSM)
University of Michigan Medical School
PhD in English + Science, Technology, & Society
with expertise in:
SOCIAL MEDIA | VISUAL CULTURE | HEALTH & ILLNESS | FEMINISM | STORYTELLING
My scholarship in invested in understanding social media as a social determinant of health. Experiences online do not just represent or narrate our lives, but fundamental constitute our everyday worlds and who we are. As a result, social media helps define experiences of illness and embodiment in material, consequential ways. To grapple with the challenges of studying our complex, quickly evolving digital present and the ways these digital culture reshape human experience, my scholarship It brings humanistic and social science expertise into dialogue with other analytic approaches from data science and medicine. My research has been published in a number of academic journals including Body Image, Social Media + Society, Feminist Media Studies, and Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.
In addition to my work at CBSSM (where I work on projects exploring career development, gender issues, and women’s representation in medicine, as well as projects exploring the social implications of health data sharing) I am a collaborative member of the Body Eating and Emotions (BEE) Lab at the University of Denver and am a Research Scientist at See Change Institute. I am also part of a four-year NSF grant titled "Making Meaning out of Crisis: Mixed-Methods Investigation into the Nature and Impact of Framing Processes During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Greene, A. K., Carr, S., & Jia, H. 2022. "Tech, Sex, and E-cigarettes: The gendered promotion of vaping on Instagram." Journal of Health Communication. DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2022.2150336
The promotion of vape products on social media has been implicated in increasing rates of e-cigarette usage, particularly among youth and young adults. While research has examined overall trends in vape-related content across a number of platforms, the role that social media “influencers” play in promoting vaping and potentially augmenting this public health crisis has been insufficiently explored. The present study examined 44,052 Instagram posts by 60 male presenting and 60 female presenting vape influencers to understand how influencer gender mediates the performance of vape culture online. Our textual and visual analysis of these influencers’ posts over one year revealed significant bifurcations based on gender. Independent sample t-tests showed statistically significant gender differences in word frequency. Male-presenting influencers tended to emphasize their expertise with vape devices as technologies, while female-presenting influencers tended to focus on their own appearance. Further, factor analysis indicated six major categories of textual features, and multiple linear regression tests showed varying levels of user engagement with the different categories across both genders. Chi-square tests indicated that female-presenting influencers highlighted their own bodies in the visual content of their posts, whereas male presenting influencers often posted images of vape devices or their component parts alone. These findings suggest that gender presentation plays an important role in shaping vape influencers’ promotional tactics and vape-related content on Instagram, and also provides insights into what kinds of content receive the most user engagement. This study can therefore help inform interventions to mitigate the impact of social media vape promotion.
Greene, A. K. 2022. “Chronic Constellations: Instagrammatic Aesthetics of Crip Time.” The Routledge Handbook of Health and Media.
Greene, A. K., Brownstone, L.M., Kelly, D.A., Maloul, E., Norling, H.N., Rockholm, R.H., & Izaguirre, C.M. 2022. “Are people thinking I'm a vector…because I’m fat?”: Cisgender experiences of body, eating, and identity during COVID-19." Body Image. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2022.01.002
While a range of studies have shown the negative impact of COVID-19 on disordered eating and body image, few have engaged with how identity and social context interact with these domains. The current study used inductive codebook thematic analysis to understand experiences of body and eating during the pandemic among a diverse (sub)clinical sample of individuals with self-reported disordered eating. We interviewed 31 cisgender participants (18/31 Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), 24/31 women) with a history of disordered eating (diagnosed and undiagnosed). Five themes were identified: Body Surveillance and Dissatisfaction, Movement and Intake Fixation, Food Scarcity and Resource Concerns, Changes in Visibility of Body and Eating, and Bodies Are Vulnerable. We examined the extent to which themes pertained to certain identities over others. Notably, BIPOC, large-bodied, queer participants more commonly spoke to body vulnerability than White, small/medium-bodied, straight participants. BIPOC and large-bodied participants also particularly spoke to feeling relief from discrimination as social distancing and mask wearing reduced their public visibility. Participants related these themes to changed body and eating experiences that spanned distress and resilience. Our analysis offers insight into multifaceted and contextual impacts of COVID-19 on experiences of body, eating, and identity.
Greene, A. K., Maloul, E., Kelly, D. A., Norling, H. N., & Brownstone, L. M. 2022. “'An Immaculate Keeper of My Social Media Feed': Social Media Usage in Body Justice Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic." Social Media + Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051221077024
This article examines how individuals proximate to online body justice communities utilized and experienced social media during COVID-19. The majority of research during the pandemic has been quantitative and survey-based; it has also tended to center (dis)information spread or mental health concerns. Our qualitative interviews with 44 individuals offer nuanced insights into what social media meant to people during quarantine, how they used it, and how they reflected on their experience of it. Five major themes emerged through reflexive, thematic analysis of the interview data: changed temporal rhythms, influx of toxic content, resource building, additive and subtractive actions, and algorithmic awareness. Some participants described social media as an increasingly harmful influence in their lives during the pandemic due to compulsive usage and exposure to “toxic content” like misinformation, weight stigma, and homophobia. At the same time, participants noted how social media positively enabled social connection, education, and activation around social justice. Across both of these extremes, many elaborated on the intensive, self-reflective labor of cultivating their accounts so that they mirrored their identities and the kinds of experiences they wanted to have online, while preventing the infiltration of unwanted content. In addition to offering new insights into social media usage in body justice communities during COVID-19, our data suggests alternative ways of understanding how individuals manage their experience of social media, curating their social media feeds through additive and subtractive actions and frequently reflecting on how their choices interact with platform algorithms.
Greene, A. K. & Brownstone, L.M. 2021. “‘just a place to keep track of myself’: eating disorders, social media, and the quantified self” Feminist Media Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2021.1984272
In order to better understand the functional significance of pro-eating disorder (pro-ED) online spaces for users, the current study investigates identity performance as it plays out on pro-ED Tumblr and Instagram account bios. We used data scraping methodologies to illuminate key facets of pro-ED social media culture beyond thinspiration, and found that pro-ED Tumblr and Instagram bios commonly utilize self-tracking and self-quantification (e.g., selftracking data regarding exercise and food intake, lowest weight, current weight) to represent online personas. Drawing from this data, we suggest the importance of understanding pro-ED social media use as a mode of enacting eating disorder practices and articulating eating-disordered identities online. More specifically, we posit that self-quantification and self-tracking on social media can be seen as a way that individuals with eating disorders extend practices of self-containment and control online in a world that increasingly blends online and offline life. By understanding the multifaceted psychological functions of pro-ED social media use we can build more informed interventions aimed at minimizing individuals’ needs to engage in such spaces in the first place, which in turn might have a preventive impact.
Brownstone, L. M., Kelly, D.A., Dinneen, J., Tiede, E., Maloul, E., & Greene, A.K. 2021. “‘It’s just not comfortable to exist in a body’: Transgender/Gender Non-Binary Individuals’ Experiences of Body and Eating Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. https://doi.apa.org/fulltext/2021-82238-001.html
The collective trauma of COVID-19 has had a negative impact on people’s experiences of their bodies and eating, as demonstrated by studies showing increased disordered eating and body dissatisfaction during this time. The pandemic has also been shown to have had a unique and disproportionate impact on transgender and gender nonbinary (TGNB) individuals (e.g., lost gender affirming care access, elevated levels of job loss). Given that TGNB individuals already face increased risk of body distress and disordered eating compared to cisgender individuals in a nonpandemic context and have been disproportionately impacted by contextual changes with COVID-19, it is likely that the pandemic has had a distinct impact on TGNB individuals’ experiences of body and eating distress. The present study aims to understand these impacts through an inductive, reflexive thematic qualitative approach. Participants were 13 TGNB individuals (10/13 gender nonbinary/gender queer; 8/13 White). They completed semistructured audio interviews about their broad experiences of body and eating during COVID-19, as well as how they understood changes across domains of family, community, access to resources, and intersectional identities interacting with these experiences. Themes included (a) Losing Affirming Spaces and Security, (b) Gaining Affirming and Supportive Spaces Online, (c) Reflecting on Embodied Gender and Identities, (d) Realizing New Connections and Insights, and (e) Considering the Self in Social Context. Notably, each of these themes interacted with participants’ self-reported experiences of body and eating distress and, in some cases, healing. Our results illuminate risk and resilience factors and areas requiring innovation during and after COVID-19.
Greene, A. K. 2021. “‘The Passing Hour’: 1930s Real-Time, Vile Bodies, and the Ethics of Reading.” Configurations 29.2. https://doi.org/10.1353/con.2021.0009
Understanding real-time as an orientation toward the present and its documentation as opposed to a concrete (digitally determined) technological affordance, this article locates real-time in the burgeoning photographic tabloid culture of 1930s Britain. It traces how technical innovations in information transmission and circulation during the interwar years impacted the circuits between readers and their “real life” environment. Moreover, by engaging with Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (1930), a text strung between novel and tabloid supplement, it suggests how real-time’s newly habituated, melancholic modes of reading might push individuals to stand by in the face of individual pain and mass violence.
Greene, A. K. and L.M. Brownstone. 2021. “Clinical Revulsion: Combatting weight stigma by confronting provider disgust.” Weight Bias in Health Education: Critical Perspectives for Pedagogy and Practice, Routledge Studies in the Sociology of Health and Illness.
Greene, A. K. & Swann, J. 2021. “Codisciplinary Code-switching: bridging biology and the humanities during COVID-19.” Rhetoric of Health and Medicine. https://doi.org/10.5744/rhm.4006
This article describes an experimental, interdisciplinary course on the immune system that was co-taught by a humanist and a scientist, and that (inadvertently) coincided with the start of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. We propose the term “codisciplinary code-switching” to capture the pedagogical strategy we developed in designing the course and adapting it over the semester to grapple with current events. We focus, in particular, on how this approach helped our students navigate the entanglement of science and society in the shifting, uncertain world of the pandemic. Although these were peculiar circumstances, codisciplinary code-switching has broader possibilities and points to alternative ways of integrating the humanities and sciences in medical education that respects both disciplines as rigorous tools for reading bodies, texts, and contexts.
Greene, A. K. 2020 “Biomarkers Can’t Bypass the ‘Mouth of a Wound.’” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 63.4: 602-615. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/775630
This article critiques the idealization of a biomarker-based “objective pain scale” in order to argue for increased investment in communication-centric approaches to chronic pain diagnosis and treatment. Although new technological advances and the rise of big data have revived old fantasies of objective pain measures, scholars have long affirmed the dangers of converting human experience into numbers, as well as the fundamental impossibility of reducing pain to physiology. Biomarkers can certainly be useful tools, but investments must also be made in fostering the “strong objectivity” that feminist scholars have advocated for and that the incorporation of narrative-driven initiatives can provide. Because expressing pain is notoriously difficult, doing this creative, communication-driven work well requires substantial effort, time, and training. Engaging with chronic pain from a feminist standpoint—one that affirms individuals’ situated experiences as valuable data and that attends to the rich multimodal vocabularies emerging on social media—can pave the way to a more equitable, ethical, and effective future of pain care.
Greene, A. K. 2020. “Flaws in the Highlight Real: Fitstagram Diptychs and the Enactment of Cyborg Embodiment.” Feminist Theory. 10.1177/1464700120944794
This article inverts Donna Haraway’s proposition that “the ideologically charged question of what counts as daily activity, as experience, can be approached by exploiting the cyborg image”by instead exploiting everyday experience to approach the contemporary cyborg. It utilizes digital tools to compile a corpus of Instagram posts that foreground corporeal hybridity and examines this social media data through the lenses of feminist STS, affect theory, and digital studies. This strategy offers a new vantage on the cyborg by connecting it to concrete, ongoing user practices. To make these interventions, the article focuses specifically on a genre of post popularized by Instagram fitness (or fitstagram) influencers – diptych photographic montages that draw on the opposition between imperfectly real material bodies and unrealistically perfect media bodies. Although they formally rely on binary logics (real v. perfect, offline v. online), the posts simultaneously deconstruct them in a number of ways. These repeated boundary transgressions reflect users’ lived experiences of hybrid online/offline corporeality and help forward a theory of cyborg embodiment that relies on everyday practices as opposed to fixed products or identities. Moreover, close engagement with a final data set of 89 posts illuminates three particular modes of enacting the cyborg corpus on Instagram: occupation of multiple bodies, awareness of the analog body, and anxious boundary-work. This research extends the cyborg as a critical figure by situating it within a social media context, attending to its imbrication in ongoing everyday practices, and affirming female social media users as theorists of their cyborg selves.
Greene, A. K. 2018 “Dismembering Remembering: Mourning with Disgust in Delbo’s Auschwitz and After.” Twentieth Century Literature 64.4: 483-503. 10.1215/0041462X-7298996
This essay argues that Charlotte Delbo’s deployment of disgust in her memoir Auschwitz and After challenges the ethics and possibilities of trauma representation. As opposed to beautifying concentration camp victims through elegiac memorialization or by claiming the sublime unspeakability of the events, Delbo’s text dialogically oscillates between self-consciously aestheticized language and graphic physical representations of abject bodies. The irruptive visceral descriptions confront the reader with automatic, embodied repulsion in order to highlight the gaps in symbolization and the difficulties of witnessing. Yet as opposed to merely marking the limits of what can be witnessed, disgust offers an alternative, affective way of encountering the pain of others that still challenges the more soothing logic of mourning and meaning-making. It has a particular countermemorial capacity to preserve and communicate the embodied realities of the victims, if only through shudders of revulsion.
Pearce, W., Ozkula, S., Greene, A.K., Teeling, L., Bansard, J., Joceli, J., & Rabello, E. 2018 “Visual cross-platform analysis: digital methods to research social media images.” Information, Communication, and Society. 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1486871
Analysis of social media using digital methods is a flourishing approach. However, the relatively easy availability of data collected via platform application programming interfaces has arguably led to the predominance of single-platform research of social media. Such research has also privileged the role of text in social media analysis, as a form of data that is more readily gathered and searchable than images. In this paper, we challenge both of these prevailing forms of social media research by outlining a methodology for visual cross-platform analysis (VCPA), defined as the study of still and moving images across two or more social media platforms. Our argument contains three steps. First, we argue that cross-platform analysis addresses a gap in research methods in that it acknowledges the interplay between a social phenomenon under investigation and the medium within which it is being researched, thus illuminating the different affordances and cultures of web platforms. Second, we build on the literature on multimodal communication and platform vernacular to provide a rationale for incorporating the visual into cross-platform analysis. Third, we reflect on an experimental cross-platform analysis of images within social media posts (n = 471,033) used to communicate climate change to advance different modes of macro- and meso-levels of analysis that are natively visual: image-text networks, image plots and composite images. We conclude by assessing the research pathways opened up by VCPA, delineating potential contributions to empirical research and theory and the potential impact on practitioners of social media communication.
Visions of the Future: Science and Society in The Expanse
Documentary Storymaking 393
Intersectional Feminist Approaches to Documentary
Mechanical Engineering 325
Mechanics, Media, and The Martian
Health, Medicine, & Society/ Biological Sciences 097
Science and Society during COVID-19
Creative Inquiry 389
Inquiry to Impact: The Digital Lives of Vaping
Health, Medicine, & Society/ Biological Sciences 095
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
English 298 Introduction to Literary Studies
English 124 Academic Writing and Literature
“Thinking, Writing, Speaking Machines”
English 125 Writing and Academic Inquiry:
Media, Celebrity and Identity
English 313.001 Topics in Literary Studies:
Yeats, Eliot, Pound
ADDITIONAL TEACHING EXPERIENCE
Auxiliar de Conversación: I.E.S Lucía de Medrano
(Middle/High School ESL Instructor)
Private English Tutor
Creative Writing Instructor: Duke Talent Identification Program
University of Kansas, Lawrence
(Creative writing courses at inner-city elementary schools and a women’s shelter)