Dr Oscar Zhou

Lecturer in Media Studies
Dr Oscar Zhou


Dr Oscar Zhou is a Lecturer in Media Studies at the School of Arts, University of Kent. Prior to his current appointment, Oscar researched and lectured at the University of Sussex, the University of Brighton, and the University of Hertfordshire. He trained as a communicator and technician scientist at the undergraduate level, before studying for a Masters degree in Globalisation and Communications at the University of Leicester, and a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex.

Dr Zhou’s research interests lie at the intersections of ethnographic research,
gender and sexuality studies, media and cultural studies, and digital communication. A key area of his research focuses on the ways that LGBTQ+ communities engage with different media technologies, texts, and practices in their everyday life. His work has been published in journals such as Feminist Media Studies, Communication, Culture and Critique, Sexualities, and China Media Research, and within edited volumes such as Queer TV China (Hong Kong University Press 2023), Queer Sites in Global Contexts (Routledge 2021), Queer Intercultural Communication (Rowman & Littlefield 2020), Exploring Erotic Encounters (Brill 2019), and Chinese Social Media (Routledge 2018). Oscar is a member of the Centre for Health and Medical Humanities.

Research interests

Dr Zhou is interested in digital culture and communication in a transnational context, including but not limited to media and technology in everyday life, digital media and health, queer digital culture and activism, critical big data and algorithm studies, as well as Chinese media and politics.

His current research project (with Dr Lianrui Jia and Dr Shuaishuai Wang) engages with the theoretical, methodological, and empirical challenges of studying different kinds of short-video apps (e.g., TikTok/Douyin and Kuaishou) and their environments, cultures, and politics. Drawing upon digital and algorithmic ethnography, the project aims to understand how digital platforms and their algorithmic processes (re)configure the power relations that structure everyday life, particularly in relation to gender, sexuality, health, wellbeing, and youth culture. Dr Zhou is currently researching and developing how to use TikTok as data, method, and creative digital intervention in youth-led participatory research.

Dr Zhou’s recent articles “Women on and Behind Chinese Entertainment Television” (2022) and “Watching National Treasure, Creating Danmei Tongren” (2022) continue to explore how gender and sexual politics operate within global mediascapes.

Oscar’s current research interests include:

  • Queer studies, methods, and pedagogies
  • Critical health communication: digital media, health and wellbeing
  • Digital and algorithmic ethnography
  • Youth culture and TikTok/Douyin
  • Female and queer fan communities
  • Internationalizing media studies: digital Asia/China as method
  • Media, conflict and extremism


Dr Zhou is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education from the University of Hertfordshire. He is experienced in developing learning activities and conducting innovative teaching of students from diverse cultural, social, and disciplinary backgrounds. His pedagogic approach is comprised of: participative and student-centred activities; the use of new educational technologies to create an accessible and inspiring experience of learning; LGBTQ-inclusive classroom and curriculum; research-led teaching and learning.

Dr Zhou is currently convening/teaching the following modules at the University of Kent:

Media and Meaning - MSTU3010
This course introduces students to the ways in which meaning is created and communicated across various media. The primary focus will be upon a range of key forms across the historical continuum of media practice. These trends will span both traditional and new forms of media content, such as print, radio, television, the internet, and user generated content.

Fan Culture: Film, Comics and Games - MSTU5003
In mainstream media franchises, contemporary moving images are now typically transmedial, existing in different forms and across different platforms. This module explores fan culture and its engagement with different media content, and offers a critical and creative perspective on how media exist across different formats.

Dr Zhou has previously designed and convened modules on media and communication studies, cultural studies, screen studies, and sociology at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including media and communication research methods, international and intercultural communication, digital media and society, advertising and social change, and celebrity, media and culture.


Dr Zhou welcomes PhD proposals in the areas of digital culture and communication, cultural and critical media studies, as well as the study of global media, culture and politics. He specifically welcomes applicants with good qualitative, ethnographic and/or digital research skills. Dr Zhou is particularly interested in and currently available for PhD supervision in the following areas:

  •  Gender, sexuality and media cultures
  • LGBTQ studies
  • Media, health and wellbeing
  • Cultural politics of big data, algorithms and platforms
  • Social media in everyday life
  • Transnational media fan studies
  • Chinese media, politics and society

If you are considering a PhD in one of the above areas, please feel free to send an email to o.zhou@kent.ac.uk.


Dr Zhou is currently chairing the UK-China Media and Cultural Studies Association.

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