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Vol. 1 No. 1 (2019): The Salzburg Seminar and Its Legacies in American Studies

Online Life Writing

December 4, 2019


In lieu of an abstract, here is the first paragraph of this contribution to this forum:

The advent of Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, Tumblr in 2007, Instagram and Pinterest in 2010, and Snapchat and Google+ in 2011 facilitated the emergence of “everyday” autobiographies out of keeping with memoir practices of the past.[1] These “quick media” enable constant, instantaneous, and seemingly organic expressions of everyday lives.[2] To read quick media as “autobiographical acts” allows us to analyze how people mobilize online media as representations of their lives and the lives of others.[3] They do so through a wide range of topics including YouTube testimonials posted by asylum seekers (Whitlock 2015) and the life-style oriented content on Pinterest.[4] To be sure, the political content of these different quick media life writing varies greatly. Nevertheless, in line with the feminist credo that the personal is political, these expressions of selfhood are indicative of specific societal and political contexts and thus contribute to the memoir boom long noticed on the literary market.[5]


  1. Breiter, Jason, Orly Lael Netzer, Julie Rak, and Lucinda Rasmussen, eds. "Auto/Biography in Transit." Special issue. Biography 38, no. 1 (2015).
  2. Friedman, May, and Silvia Schultermandl, eds. "Autobiography 2.0 and Quick Media Life Writing." Special issue: Interactions: Studies in Culture and Communications 9, no. 2 (2018).
  3. Friedman, May, and Silvia Schultermandl. "Introduction." In Click and Kin: Transnational Identity and Quick Media, edited by May Friedman and Silvia Schultermandl, 3–24. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016.
  4. Lejeune, Philippe. On Autobiography. Translated by Katherine Leary. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989.
  5. McNeill, Laurie, and John David Zuern. "Online Lives 2.0: Introduction." Biography 38, no. 2 (2015): v–xlvi.
  6. McNeill, Laurie. "Digital Dioramas: Curating Life Narratives on the World Wide Web." Paper presented at the 2013 MLA Conference. Boston, MA. January 5, 2013.
  7. Poletti, Anna. "Reading for Excess: Relational Autobiography, Affect and Popular Culture in Tarnation." Life Writing 9, no. 2 (2012): 157–172.
  8. Rak, Julie. Boom! Manufacturing Memoir for the Popular Market. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013.
  9. Schultermandl, Silvia. "Auto-Assembling the Self on Social Networking Sites: Intermediality and Transnational Kinship in Online Academic Life Writing." In Intermediality, Life Writing, and American Studies, edited by Nassim W. Balestrini and Ina Bergmann, 191–210. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2018.
  10. Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson, eds. Getting a Life: Everyday Use of Autobiography. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
  11. Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson. Interfaces: Women, Autobiography, Images, Performance. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.
  12. Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
  13. Whitlock, Gillian, and Anna Poletti. "Self-Regarding Art." Biography 31, no. 1 (2008): v–xxiii.
  14. Whitlock, Gillian. "Post-ing Lives." Biography 35, no. 1 (2012): v–xvi.
  15. Whitlock, Gillian. Postcolonial Life Narratives: Testimonial Transactions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  16. Youngs, Gillian. "Cyberspace: The New Feminist Frontier?" In Women and Media: International Perspectives, edited by Karen Ross and Carolyn M. Byerly, 185–209. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.

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