“Eighth Grade” FREE Film Screening and Panel

The Black Box Theatre, L.R. Wilson Building, McMaster University

27/01/2020, 3:30 pm - TO 27/01/2020 - 6:30 pm

Organizer: English and Cultural Studies

My Calendar

Catfishing. Murder. Romance. In cinematic representations of online life, social media are either unquestionably dangerous and isolating (Ingrid Goes West and Friend Request) or benign matchmakers that bring us together (You’ve Got Mail and A Cinderella Story). In both cases, the nuances of a world where smartphones, iPads, and computers are ubiquitous are lost in favour of didactic moralizing and spectacle. Turning away from reductive narratives about the good or evil of social media, this film screening and panel discussion delves deeper into the realities of living in a screen-mediated world as our panelists explore the relationship between media, art, feminism, activism, disability, and mental health.

The screen opens on a blurry close-up of a preteen girl’s face: “Hey guys, uh, it’s Kayla, back with another video.” Welcome to Eighth Grade, a film about adolescence, being true to yourself, and getting views. With care and humour, Eighth Grade explores anxiety, grief, youth, and gender in the age of social media. Moving between awkward pool parties and makeup tutorials on YouTube, this coming-of-age film portrays the complex relationship between online and offline identity and community. Eighth Grade is a critically acclaimed indie film that has been nominated for numerous awards since its debut at the 2018 Sundance Festival.

Panel Topic: “Social Media, Anxiety, and Feminisms in and beyond Eighth Grade”

Meet the Panelists:

Sonali Menezes is a Hamilton-based artist working in performance, video, sculpture, printmaking, and poetry. Her work reflects her resistance to the histories of colonialism and racialization within which she is interwoven. Menezes was the recipient of the 2019 City of Hamilton Arts Award for Emerging Artist–Media Arts.

Aisha Wilks is a Master’s student in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. Her research interests include race, disability, and the intimacies of violence in contemporary literature and film with a particular focus on the Black Transatlantic.

Adan Jerreat-Poole is a Ph.D. candidate in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster working at the intersections of disability, digital media, autobiography, and popular culture. They are also a fantasy novelist and a bookstagram fan. They have #anxiety and #chronicpain.

Sarah Brophy is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. She is the author of Witnessing AIDS: Writing, Testimony, and the Work of Mourning, co-editor with Janice Hladki of Embodied Politics in Visual Autobiography, and contributor to journals such as Contemporary Women’s Writing, Interventions, Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, and Cultural Critique. Her current SSHRC-funded research examines the convergence of visual self-portraiture, digital labor, and feminist/crip/mad media practices.

This event is hosted by the SSHRC Insight Grant funded project “Selfie Culture and Feminist/Crip/Mad Autobiographical Art.”

Access: The Black Box Theatre and the L.R Wilson Building are accessible by ramp. The film will be shown with closed captions, and has a content warning for sexual harassment. For more information or for accessibility queries, please contact Sarah at or Adan at

RSVP online