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Dr Jacob Johanssen

Course Lead - BA Communications and Marketing

Dr 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.

He is the author / editor of five books and two special issues. His most recent publications include two monographs: Fantasy, Online Misogyny and the Manosphere: Male Bodies of Dis/Inhibtion (Routledge, 2021) and Event Horizon: Sexuality, Politics, Online Culture, and the Limits of Capitalism (Zero Books, 2021) written together with Bonni Rambatan.

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, 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).

At St Mary’s, Jacob teaches on a range of modules on the BA Communications degree and the Film and Screen Media degree. He convenes the Data Analytics and Marketing pathway on the BA Communications, Media and Marketing. He is PGR Co-Lead for the Institute of Business, Law and Society.

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.

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 is forthcoming with Routledge. 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. It will be published by Zero Books in January 2022.

He is the author of the monograph 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). A podcast on the book for New Books in Critical Theory is also available.

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