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Autobiography in the digital age

Posted on 11/04/2014

How has the Facebook timeline or the popularity of blogging transformed how we write about our lives? A major new research project which has attracted 2.2 million Euros in funding from the European Research Council will examine the impact of digital and social media on how we present ourselves online. 

‘Ego-media: The impact of new media on forms and practices of self presentation’ will consider the implications of the growth of new digital methods of self-expression on notions such as individuality, creativity, privacy and sociability. It will examine the shift from traditional biographical and autobiographical forms such as letters, diaries, journals or memoirs, to the immediacy and often fragmented forms of self-presentation available on social media. It will question the impact of new digital technologies such as the introduction of Facebook timelines, the popularity of blogging and the abbreviated nature of Twitter posts on how we portray ourselves. The five year project aims to uncover how autobiographical practices are being altered and the cultural, psychological and political implications of digital technologies. 

The project is being led by Max Saunders, Professor in the Department of English and Director of the Arts & Humanities Research Institute. He will be joined by Professors Clare Brant, Department of English; Alexandra Georgakopoulou, Centre for Hellenic Studies; and Leone Ridsdale, from the Institute of Psychiatry.

Professor Saunders commented: 'I'm delighted that the ERC has recognised the interdisciplinary research being done on Life Writing at King's, and on our Strandlines project and website. It's an exciting opportunity to bring some innovative thinking from several disciplines to bear on the question of how new media are changing not only our lives, but also our thinking about what those lives are.'

The project received coverage in the latest edition of Times Higher Education.

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