In his short book, Theory of the Hashtag (Polity, 2019), Andreas Bernard traces the origins and career of the hashtag. Following the history of the # sign through its origins in the Middle Ages and how it became a common symbol through its placement on American typewriters and touch tone phones. He examines the hashtag’s role in changing how we define and discuss keywords. Focusing on the use of the # on Twitter and Instagram, Bernard looks at how the sign is used in activism and marketing, addressing these different fields and how they apply the hashtag to meet their own needs. In this short volume, Bernard gives insight into the symbol that has changed how we bundle discourse and organize public discussion and debate. Although other texts have talked about the hashtag as a form of social media activism, with his analysis of the history of the symbol and it’s use by marketing and advertising corporation, Bernard forces readers to think about the hashtag’s complexities and the ways in which the use of the symbol is changing the public sphere.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English at Western Illinois University. She researches zines, zine writers and the influence of music subcultures and fandom on writers and narratives. She is the author of Writing a Riot: Riot Grrrl Zines and Feminist Rhetorics (Peter Lang, 2018). You can find more about her on her website, follow her on Twitter @rj_buchanan or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.