1509200211 1.NEF.pI am interested in digital cultures and communications in a transnational context, including but not limited to media and technology in everyday life, queer digital cultures and activism, critical big data and algorithm studies, Chinese media and politics, as well as feminist media studies. My current book project uses the lenses of cultural studies, feminist and queer theory to investigate how Chinese gay men engage with media technologies, texts, and practices in their everyday life. More recently, I have begun exploring the gender and cultural politics of algorithms and big data.

I am currently working on two international research projects:

1) Co-chairing the Short-Video Apps Research Initiative (SVARI) with Dr Shuaishuai Wang (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University) and Dr Lianrui Jia (University of Sheffield). This project engages with the theoretical, methodological, and empirical challenges of studying different kinds of short-video apps (such as Douyin/TikTok, Kuaishou, and Instagram) and their environments, cultures and politics; 2) Co-Investigating “Countering violent extremism in a digitised China” with Dr Chi Zhang (University of St Andrews). This project seeks to address the spread of extremist ideologies in an increasingly digitised China, aiming to bring together critical insights from academic researchers, media and digital industry professionals, as well as government organisations and policy makers to examine the relationships between violent extremism and mainstream and digital media in China.

I welcome PhD proposals in the areas of digital cultures and communications, cultural and critical media studies and the study of Chinese media, culture and society. I specifically welcome applicants with strong qualitative and digital research skills. I am particularly interested in supervising PhD projects in:

  • Youth culture and TikTok/Douyin
  • The role of social media (e.g. Instagram, WeChat, Twitter, YouTube, etc) in everyday life
  • The cultural politics of big data, algorithms and platforms
  • Gender, sexuality and media cultures
  • Transnational media fandom (especially slash fandom)
  • International and intercultural communicationIf you are considering a PhD in one of the above areas, please feel free to send an email to t.zhou2@herts.ac.uk.

You can watch an invited presentation on “Algorithmic Gay Sexualities on Douyin” I gave recently as part of the “Digital Bodies” public lecture series at the Centre for Gender Studies, Lancaster University. The guest talk is recorded and published on the centre’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT95zUZKQaM&t=13s.