Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Film, Video & Digital Imaging

First Advisor

Ethan Tussey

Second Advisor

Greg Smith

Third Advisor

Diane Anselmo

Fourth Advisor

Emanuela Guano


This dissertation explores post-authentic neoliberal animation production culture, tracing the ways authenticity is used as a resource to garner professional autonomy and security during precarious times. Animators engage in two modes of production, the first in creating animated content, and the other in constructing a professional identity. Analyzing animator discourse allows for a nuanced exploration of how these processes interact and congeal into common sense. The use of digital software impacts the animator’s capacity to legitimize themselves as creatives and experts, traditional tools become vital for signifying creative authenticity in a professional environment. The practice of decorating one’s desk functions as a tactic to layer creative authenticity, but the meaning of this ritual is changing now that studios shift to open spaces while many animators work from home. Layering authenticity on-screen often requires blending techniques from classical Hollywood cinema into animated performance, concomitant with a bid to legitimate the role of the authentic interlocutor for the character. Increasingly animators feel pressure to layer authenticity online, establishing an audience as a means to hedge against precarity. The recombined self must balance the many methods for layering creative and professional authenticity with the constraints and affordances of their tools, along with the demands of the studio, to yield cultural capital vital for an animator’s survival in an industry defined at once by its limitless expressive potential and economic uncertainty.


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