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Jacob Johanssen

Senior Lecturer in Communications

Jacob Johanssen


About Research


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

His research interests include audience research, social media, digital labour, psychoanalysis and the media, sexuality and digital media, affect theory, psychosocial studies, critical theory, as well as digital culture. His work has appeared in triple C; the International Journal of Cultural Studies; Information, Communication & Society; Journalism Studies and other journals.

He is the author of the monograph Psychoanalysis and Digital Culture: Audiences, Social Media, and Big Data (Routledge, 2019).

Together with Lara Sheehi and Daniel Gaztambide, 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).

At St Mary’s, Jacob teaches on a range of modules on the BA Communications degree and the Film and Screen Media degree. 

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.


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. All publications can be found here.

His second book Fantasy, Online Misogyny and the Manosphere: Male Bodies of Dis/Inhibition is forthcoming with Routledge in 2021. It 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 currently writing a book on online culture, politics and sexuality, to be published by Zero Books in 2021.

He is the author of the monograph Psychoanalysis and Digital Culture: Audiences, Social Media, and Big Data (Routledge). Psychoanalysis and Digital Culture 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). A podcast on the book for New Books in Critical Theory can be found here.

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