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MC: Clare Brant: Lives Online: I, They, We

When Apr 19, 2016
from 02:00 to 06:00
Where Phil I, GCSC, R. 001
Contact Name
Contact Phone (+49) 0641 99 30055
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Lives Online: I, They, We

Life writing is a relatively recent but well-established academic field which includes the study and practice of biography, autobiography, letters, diaries, journals, oral testimony and eye-witness accounts. It also now encompasses the study and use of digital genres, including blogs, tweets and social media. This class, which will be also a collaborative workshop, will explore lives online in two ways: first, how you participate in online practices; second, how life stories are used in the representation of the refugee crisis. The connection between these topics is how subjectivity and identity are mediated through digital means: reflecting on personal practices of online self-representation will enable discussion about the impact of new media on autobiographical narratives, an impact increasing as habits and practices of self-presentation evolve rapidly in response to constantly fast-changing technology. We will consider the implications for such notions as autobiography, selfhood, subjectivity, individuality, self-intelligibility, agency, creativity, privacy, and sociability.

In different online contexts these concepts manifest themselves in different ways. Part two of the workshop will involve exploring online identities through the means of refugee stories. How are such stories constituted, in words and images?  What are the politics of their literary formations, circulation and readings? Digital subjectivity in this context has an urgent politics. What can life writing do to help? 


Part 1: The Ego Media project at the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London has worked with Mass Observation (a long-running social history centre which records everyday life in Britain: to create a ‘directive’, or questionnaire, specifically about individual experience of online representation. It is available in advance to participants.  Please would anyone coming to the workshop complete one (ignore the MO postal address!), and bring a print version for sharing?

Useful reading: Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, ‘Virtually Me: A Toolbox about Online Self-presentation’, in Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online eds. Anna Poletti and Julie Rak (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014) [supplied as pdf]

Part 2: The European Journal of Life Writing has a nascent project to collect links to representations of refugee stories: Please read some. One desirable outcome of the class would be to add to this list.

Useful reading: for comparison, Laetitia Nanquette, ‘Refugee Life Writing in Australia: Testimonio by Iranians', Postcolonial Text Vol.9 No.2 (2014) [supplied as pdf].

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