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Dr Jacob Johanssen

Associate Professor in Communications
Subject Lead (Research, School of Business and Communication), Course Leader UG Comms

Dr Jacob Johanssen

About Research



Jacob Johanssen's research is influenced by media and communication studies, psychoanalysis, psychosocial studies, philosophy, and critical theory. He is Associate Professor in Communications and researches how individuals are (un)consciously shaped by and in turn shape digital media.

He is the author/editor of seven books and two special issues. His most recent publications include the monographs: Fantasy, Online Misogyny and the Manosphere: Male Bodies of Dis/Inhibtion (Routledge) and Media and Psychoanalysis: A Critical Introduction (Karnac Books), written together with Steffen Krüger. He is the (co)-author of the following books:

His research interests include audience research, social media, digital labour, psychoanalysis and the media, sexuality and digital media, affect theory, datafication and AI, psychosocial studies, philosophy, critical theory, as well as digital culture. His work has appeared in Media, Culture & Society; triple C; the International Journal of Cultural Studies; Information, Communication & Society and other journals. Most publications can be found online.

He is Co-Editor of the CounterSpace section of the journal Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society. He is Founding Scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and also a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Association for Psychosocial Studies (APS). He sits on the board of the Association for Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society (APCS). He is a Fellow of the RSA.


At St Mary’s, Jacob is Course Lead for BA Communications, Media and Marketing and BA Sports Communications and Marketing. He teaches on a wide range of modules. He convenes modules on communication theory, research methods, theories and practices of data analytics, data visualisation, global media, and dissertations. He is currently Subject Lead Research for the School of Business and Communication.

PhD students

Jacob welcomes enquiries from prospective PhD students in his areas of expertise. He currently supervises:

  • S. Gamble (Female Adolescence and Self-Objectification in Contemporary Cinema), 10/22-.
  • N. Rashid (Psychoanalysis, Masculinity and Social Media), 10/22-.
  • D. Dyos (Xenofeminism, Posthumanism and Film), 02/22-.
  • M. Gomes (Fashion Consumption as a Coping Strategy During Covid-19), 02/22-.
  • J. Anwar (Fashion Influencers in Pakistan and Social Media), 12/21-.

Before joining St Mary's in 2019 as Senior Lecturer in Communications, Jacob held positions at the University of Westminster (CAMRI) where he was Course Leader for three MA programmes and at the University of East London. He holds a BA in Communication Studies (University of Salzburg), an MA in Media and Communications (Goldsmiths, University of London) and a PhD from the University of East London. He is Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Research profile

Jacob Johanssen's research is interdisciplinary and aims to connect media and communication studies with psychoanalysis on theoretical and methodological levels. He has published widely on those matters and has contributed to shaping the field of psychoanalytic media studies. Jacob is the recipient of the 2021 Lotte Köhler Prize for Psychoanalytic Developmental, Cultural and Social Psychology in the junior category. It is awarded annually by the Hans Kilian and Lotte Köhler Center for Social and Cultural Psychology (KKC), Ruhr-University Bochum and the Sigmund Freud Institute (SFI), University of Frankfurt.

Recent publications include:

He has received research funding from SPRITE+/EPSRC as PI for the project AI-COSA: trustworthiness of data and AI tools in Covid Safe workplace Apps. His research has also been funded by the Quintin Hogg Trust.

His second book Fantasy, Online Misogyny and the Manosphere: Male Bodies of Dis/Inhibition was published in 2021. It includes an extensive preface by Klaus Theweleit. The book is a psychoanalytic study of male online communities (YouTubers, incels, MGTOW, NoFap). The book shows that the men of the manosphere present contradictory thoughts, desires and fantasies about women which go beyond misogyny. All are characterised by destruction as well as desire. They are torn between (un)conscious forces and fantasies which erupt and are defended against. Drawing on wider discussions about the status of sexuality in contemporary neoliberal technoculture since the sexual revolution of the late 1960s, Johanssen shows how sexuality, racism and images of the white male body shape the fantasies and affects of many men on the internet and beyond today.

Together with Bonni Rambatan, Jacob is the author of Event Horizon: Sexuality, Politics, Online Culture, and the Limits of Capitalism. Together with Steffen Krüger, he has recently completed a critical introduction to psychoanalysis and media that covers cinema, television, social media, videogames and artificial intelligence, published by Karnac Books in September 2022.

His first monograph is Psychoanalysis and Digital Culture: Audiences, Social Media, and Big Data (2019, Routledge). It offers a comprehensive account of our contemporary media environment—digital culture and audiences in particular—by drawing on psychoanalysis and media studies frameworks. It provides an introduction to the psychoanalytic affect theories of Sigmund Freud and Didier Anzieu and applies them theoretically and methodologically in a number of case studies. The book argues that digital media fundamentally shape our subjectivities on affective and unconscious levels, and he critically analyses phenomena such as television viewing, Twitter use, affective labour on social media, and data mining. The book was listed as part of Prof Brett Kahr's Top 10 Psychotherapy Books of 2018 (Confer).

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