University Place, Syracuse University
Whitney Phillips

Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies
Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor Whitney Phillips teaches classes in media literacy and online ethics; online discourse and controversy; folklore and digital culture; and lore surrounding monster narratives, urban legends, hoaxes, and crime.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Phillips was a lecturer in media, culture, and communication at New York University (2012-2013), a lecturer in communication at Humboldt State University (2014-2015), and assistant professor of literary studies and writing at Mercer University (2015-2018).

Phillips’ research explores antagonism and identity-based harassment online; the relationship between vernacular expression, state and corporate influences, and emerging technologies; political memes and other forms of ambivalent civic participation; and digital ethics, including journalistic ethics and the ethics of everyday social media use. She is the author of This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture (MIT, 2015) and the co-author of The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online with Ryan M. Milner of the College of Charleston (Polity, 2017). She is also the author of the three-part ethnographic report The Oxygen of Amplification: Better Practices for Reporting on Extremists, Antagonists, and Manipulators Online (Data & Society Media Manipulation Initiative, 2018). She has written numerous articles and book chapters on a range of media, folklore, and digital culture topics, most recently “fake news” narratives, technological play with the afterlife, and the role social and memetic media played during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Additionally, she has published dozens of popular press pieces on digital culture and ethics in outlets like The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Slate.

Phillips’s book This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things won the Association of Internet Researchers 2015 Nancy Baym best book award. She is regularly featured as an expert commentator in national and global news outlets, and her work on the ethics of journalistic amplification has been profiled by the Columbia Journalism Review, Niemen Journalism Lab, and Knight Commission on Trust, Media, and Democracy. She is a member of the Association of Internet Researchers and the American Folklore Society.

Phillips holds a Ph.D. in English with a folklore-structured emphasis (digital culture focus) from the University of Oregon (2012); an M.F.A. in creative writing (fiction) from Emerson College (2007); and a B.A. in philosophy from Humboldt State University (2004).