Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Sutton, David


This research examines how reading and writing on digital platforms establishes public and private spheres in Tokyo, Japan. Based upon findings from a group of students at an international University, I develop new modes of thinking about people and their use of Internet capable devices by exploring the paradoxes present in contemporary literacies. Contextualizing reading and writing within the speech patterns and exchange rituals (aisatsu) which mark public spheres in Japan, writing practices are found to reflect multiple nuanced identity performances in which the varied use of the cultural principles uchi/soto (inside/outside) and ura/omote (back/front) create parallel publics. Constructed by authors and recognized by readers, these parallel publics are the result of student agency as well as the materiality of platform programing and device capabilities. Contemporary literacies have developed conventions which account for the message recipient carrying an ever-present Internet capable device, leading authors to utilize message practices which align the proximity of a platform to levels of intimacy in a relationship. Authors also compose messages which are less likely to require the receiver to excuse themselves from any given social situation. The ubiquity of human-device pairs has also impacted memory practices, with youths prioritizing recognition skills over memorization.




This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.