Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Women's and Gender Studies


Jillian Báez

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Community-Based Learning | Community-Based Research | Critical and Cultural Studies | Cultural History | Digital Humanities | Ethnic Studies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Film and Media Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | International and Intercultural Communication | Latina/o Studies | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Performance Studies | Public Relations and Advertising | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social Influence and Political Communication | Social Media | Television | Visual Studies | Women's Studies


Latinx, Race, Ethnicity, Pop Culture, Social Media, Critical Media Literacy, Media Literacy, Representation, Gender, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Analytical Skills, Accessibility, Digital Labor, Virtual Relationships


This thesis explores how audiences engage with U.S. Latinx media representations through the practice of critical media literacy. I interrogate how media consumers construct critical media literacy through interacting with U.S. Latinx figures on digital media platforms, particularly on the social-media app, Twitter, and the user-generated video content platform, YouTube. Throughout this thesis, I argue that users on these platforms who engage with U.S. Latinx pop culture figures, like Jennifer Lopez and Belcalis Almanzar (Cardi B), read, digest, and comprehend a variety of multimedia images, texts, or videos, and that this engagement becomes an accessible form of critical media literacy, in which users proactively discuss and deconstruct these stars, often through an intersectional lens. I also argue that users who have similar ethnic/racial/gender identities as these figures can also practice a form of critical media literacy that connects to their own identity and their own worldview. This engagement allows users to talk about their own lived experiences, how that representation reflects their own identity, and creates a “virtual kinship” with other social media users. This is important because these users and their lived experiences are often marginalized in media spaces. By giving oft-marginalized users access to digital resources like social media, they’re more able to discuss shared experiences in these accessible, public online spaces.

TW: Please note that this thesis discusses acts of bodily violence, particularly domestic violence relationships.