Image of Ysabel GerrardDr Ysabel Gerrard

Lecturer in Digital Media and Society

BA (Hons), MA, PhD (University of Leeds)

Telephone: 0114 222 6435 (external) 26435 (internal)
Room: Elmfield, B05


Ysabel joined the Department of Sociological Studies in 2017, having completed her PhD at the University of Leeds and spending some time as an Intern at Microsoft Research New England. She is also the Young Scholars' Representative for the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) Digital Culture and Communication Section. Her research interests are in: social media and society; gender and identities; feminist media theory; and digital research methods.


Ysabel’s research interests are in:

  • Social media and society;
  • Digital identities (gender, age, sexualities, race & social class);
  • Feminist media theory;
  • Social media content moderation;
  • Digital research methods.

She is currently publishing the outputs of two related projects: (1) her doctoral research, which explores how teen drama television fans maintain ‘secret’ identities on social media platforms. (2) A new project, completed with the support of Tarleton Gillespie at Microsoft Research New England (Cambridge, MA, USA). This work explores how social media users evade content moderation, namely the policing of pro-eating disorder (pro-ED) hashtags and posts on Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Ysabel is also:

  • Presenting a paper at the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference (University of Tartu, Estonia, 19-21 October 2017). See:;
  • Organising a young scholars’ workshop at the ECREA Digital Culture and Communication conference: Digital Culture Meets Data: Critical Approaches (University of Brighton, UK, 6-7 November 2017). See:;
  • Co-editing a special issue of papers presented at the 2017 Data Power Conference (Carleton University, Canada, 22-23 June 2017):;
  • Co-organising the 2019 Data Power Conference (dates and location TBD).


Ysabel is the Programme Leader for the BA Digital Media and Society. She will be teaching the following modules in the 2017/18 academic year:

Semester 1

  • SCS3042/6082 Social Media, Data and Society (seminar leader)

Semester 2

  • SCS1022 Introduction to Digital Methods (module leader)
  • SCS1021 Digital Methods in Practice (module leader)
  • SCS6089 Digital Identities (module leader)

Ysabel also supervises BA and MA Dissertation students working on a range of topics, typically those who are interested in digital cultures and identities. The modules she has developed – Digital Identities and those about Digital Methods – draw on her own research interests and experiences. For example, she has spent some time at the Digital Methods Institute at the University of Amsterdam learning about their tools and approaches to social media research (see, and at Microsoft Research New England thinking about how social media content gets moderated and policed (see:

She likes to incorporate aspects of students’ own lives, experiences and identities into her teaching practices, particularly how they use and understand social media platforms through, for example, taking selfies, vlogging, online fandom, sexting, political organisation, and gaming. She also encourages students to think about their privacy on social media, how they represent themselves, and how they use social media in different cultural, geographical, and legal contexts.

Previously, and at a different institution, Ysabel has taught:

  • The Ethics of Internet Research (MA dissertation);
  • Feminism, Identity and Media (third year);
  • Studying Media (first year);
  • Introduction to Communication Theory (first year).

She will happily chat to students about any of the above topics.


Publications since 2005

Journal Articles

Gerrard, Y. (2017). ‘It’s a secret thing’: digital disembedding through online teen drama fandom. First Monday. 22(8). DOI:

Hill, R., Kennedy, H. and Gerrard, Y. (2016). Visualizing junk: big data visualizations and the need for feminist data studies. Journal of Communication Inquiry. 40(4). 331-350.

Book Reviews

Gerrard, Y. (2017). Book review: Post, mine, repeat: social media data mining becomes ordinary, by Helen Kennedy. Information, Communication and Society. 20(12). 1817-1820.

Gerrard, Y. (2016). Book review: Status update: celebrity, publicity and branding in the social media age, by Alice E. Marwick. Celebrity Studies. 7(3). 437-439.