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In 2015, the season premiere of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was the most viewed Sunday cable program, out-performing the series finale of the critically acclaimed television drama, Mad Men. While Kim Kardashian and company have never received the adulation that Don Draper elicited, the family’s sheer popularity and infamy demands further inspection by scholars who claim interest in the cultural productions that reflect and shape our historical moment. As watchers of the reality television show and digital humanists alike, we ask: what does it really take to keep up with the Kardashians? In response, the six members of the 2016-2017 Praxis Program, an interdisciplinary cohort of graduate students in the University of Virginia’s Scholars’ Lab, use tools from the digital humanities to survey the media ecologies of the Kardashians and discuss their impact on twenty-first century notions of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. The project began by running web scraping scripts to amass data from the family’s Twitter feeds, the closed captioning from Keeping Up with the Kardashians, tabloid articles, and fanfiction sites. The cohort then used topic modeling to identify clusters within the data and compose a digital essay devoted to themes motherhood, ancestry, and adoption. By simulating the appearance of the Kardashians’ fashion boutique website, "DASH-Amerikan" moves past superficial understandings of the family to unpack the sometimes-competing constructions of femininity, ethnicity, and cultural power found in their media ecologies.

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