Today’s virtual and gaming environments are predominantly geared towards males, leaving female gamers out of their realm. As a pop culture aficionado and gaming expert, Andrea Braithwaite, PhD, has a personal stake in understanding the situation and determining the steps needed to level the playing field.
A Senior Lecturer in Communication Studies and Digital Media, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Dr. Braithwaite explores how Canadian media and popular culture texts about gender, sexuality, and sociability spark North American public debates about gender and sexual equality. She joined UOIT in 2011 and received a 2014 UOIT Teaching Excellence Award for her engaging philosophies and innovative teaching methods. In 2015, she held a summer research fellowship The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, where she looked at the early years of Nancy Drew video games. A continuation of her doctoral work on young female detective figures, she examined feminism and pop culture in gaming. Internationally, she is collaborating on research to study the virtual community and culture of World of Warcraft players.
Dr. Braithwaite’s research also explores the history of Canadian crime films, and aims to create a comprehensive, accessible database for scholars, film students and industry. In collaboration with a multidisciplinary research team, she also intends to broaden the national scope and discussion of crime films to include their distinctive qualities, the ways in which they are part of cultural conversations about crime, and their impact on crime in Canada.
Turning her passion into her life’s work, Dr. Braithwaite earned her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communication Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa, her Master of Arts in Popular Culture from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, and her Doctorate of Philosophy in Communication Studies from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. She continued as an instructor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill from 2006 to 2010.
Fascinated by the influence of media and pop culture on societal values, Dr. Braithwaite’s teaching reflects on the shifting patterns in industry. Prioritizing social justice and equality, she encourages students to contribute their original insights to critical conversations about social change. Her work has been featured in journals such as Feminist Media Studies, and she has been a contributing columnist with flowtv.org.
Industry Expertise (9)
Areas of Expertise (11)
The Strong Museum of Play Research Fellowship (professional)
She was awarded the summer fellowship in Rochester, New York to explore the early years of Nancy Drew video games. Building on her doctoral work on young female detective figures, her research focused on feminism and women in gaming.
UOIT Teaching Excellence Award (professional)
Dr. Braithwaite received this honour for her cross-textual and interdisciplinary approach to examining how societal values are influenced by media, popular culture and political texts; and encouraging insightful conversations among her students.
McGill University: PhD, Communication Studies 2009
Brock University: MA, Popular Culture 2003
Carleton University: BA (Honours), Communication Studies 2001
- Canadian Communication Association
Media Appearances (3)
Epic Win: The Guild and Communities of Play
Comedy web series The Guild follows a group of gamers who spend much of their time playing The Game – a thinly veiled version of the hugely successful massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) World of Warcraft.1 Created by and starring Felicia Day, The Guild has won numerous awards for excellence in web television, and a nod from Rolling Stone as one of the best web serials.2
"Buckle Up, Bitches. Nothing is as it Seems": Gothic Conventions in Pretty Little Liars
The town of Rosewood is full of secrets. Its sleepy, bucolic streets and charming old homes hide scandal, treachery — and murderers. The setting for ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars (PLL; 2010-present), Rosewood is simultaneously peaceful and frightening; we are more likely to hear crows cawing than children playing.
Streets Behind: Nostalgia in Community
Shortly after NBC announced it wouldn’t be renewing its cult sitcom Community for a sixth season, I sat down to re- (re- re-) watch the series. I already miss the show – an apt reaction to a series that encourages nostalgia for a shared pop culture past. Through allusion and parody, Community chronicles how seven students at Greendale Community College evolved from study group to close-knit circle of friends. The show has even been called “perfectly postmodern television” for how it jumps playfully from genre to genre, self-consciously referencing cultural texts and trends along the way.
Event Appearances (5)
Nancy Drew and the Case of the Girl Gamers
Canadian Communication Association at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
MMO Gaming and Virtual Worlds Ethnography
Qualitative Analysis Conference Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario
Bon Cop, Bad Cop: Canadianizing the Buddy Cop Film
Criminal Justice Speaker Series University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Spreading the Message – The Art of Communicating
International Baccalaureate World Student Conference on Human Rights McGill University, Montréal, Québec
Industrial-Strength Celebrity: Glee, A Case Study
Media Stardom & Celebrity Cultures McGill University, Montréal, Québec
Research Grants (1)
Frozen Justice: A Century of Canadian Crime Film
SSHRC Insight Grant $202800
Dr. Braithwaite is a co-investigator in this four-year, multidisciplinary research project to investigate the history of Canadian crime films. A key objective is the development of a comprehensive, accessible database of these films for scholars, film students and industry. The project also aims to establish a national conference to evoke broad cultural conversations about the impact of crime films in Canada.
Introduction to Communication
COMM 1100U, 1st Year Undergraduate Course
Foundations of Communication Theory
COMM 2110U, 2nd Year Undergraduate Course
Researching Communication and Culture
COMM 2210U, 2nd Year Undergraduate Course
The Media in Canada
COMM 2220U, 2nd Year Undergraduate Course
COMM 2240U, 2nd Year Undergraduate Course
History of Communication Technology
COMM 2410U, 2nd Year Undergraduate Course
COMM 3250U, 3rd Year Undergraduate Course
COMM 3740U, 3rd Year Undergraduate Course
World of Warcraft (WoW) is one of the most successful and longest running multiplayer online games in gaming. Over time, Blizzard Entertainment’s approach to multiplayer activities in WoW has changed. During the past decade, in-game world events, group matchmaking systems, and phasing technologies have been used to increasingly emphasize individual achievement rather than collaborative effort. The game is shifting away from sociable activities in favor of ones that situate players as powerful, atomized characters. WoW’s governmentality now encourages players to see each other as obstacles to success and to see themselves as entrepreneurial subjects. These neoliberal strategies have the potential to impact our ability to collectively imagine and create alternative forms of social interaction and organization.
Everyday gendered experiences provide an affective framework for understanding participation in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) and their community forums. Debates on the World of Warcraft online forums about changes to an upcoming in-game character named Ji Firepaw, who initially greeted characters with gendered and sexist dialogue, demonstrates how games and game communities are embedded in larger cultural contexts. Themes like the feminist as killjoy, anxious masculinity and player agency recur across official and unofficial WoW forums regarding Ji Firepaw. These concerns rely upon and aim to reinforce gendered power dynamics, illustrating how the digital and the virtual are not independent spaces.
This article examines the representations of men and masculinities in contemporary crime narratives featuring a female protagonist. These “chick dick” stories (which adapt elements from the hardboiled detective novel, film noir, chick lit, and chick flicks) repeatedly engage with the gendered power dynamics made visible and problematic through the intersection of “chick” and crime genres, most particularly the sexualization of violence. In these narratives, popular masculinities operate as deployable concepts to dramatize contemporary gender relations. By tapping into the popular sentiment of a “crisis in masculinity,” chick dick texts also mobilize a rhetoric of unrepresentable male victimization and individual male pathologies.