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Talk: IABA Europe 2013

This paper inves­ti­gates Russ­ian author Linor Goralik’s spe­cif­ic use of Twit­ter, a pop­u­lar microblog­ging por­tal. In con­trast to a ful­ly-fledged blog, Twit­ter mes­sages (tweets) are lim­it­ed to 140 char­ac­ters. Because of this restric­tion, Twit­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion is fast-paced and can be used to quick­ly dis­trib­ute new infor­ma­tion. Linor Goralik’s Twit­ter page (twitter.com/snorapp), how­ev­er, is dif­fer­ent: It is explic­it­ly labeled as a ‘lit­er­ary project’. Each tweet starts with the words ‘I see:’. Then, a small obser­va­tion from dai­ly life fol­lows, for exam­ple: ‘I see: a scrawny old cat look­ing with hos­til­i­ty on a sinewy old pigeon’. Thus, Gora­lik cre­ates the illu­sion that she sim­ply uses Twit­ter to record mem­o­rable moments. These real life minia­tures, how­ev­er, share a cer­tain poet­ic qual­i­ty, and are, after all, lit­er­ary texts, so their authen­tic­i­ty is ques­tion­able. Nonethe­less, Goralik’s lit­er­ary project can be regard­ed an inter­est­ing exam­ple of Life Writ­ing – or rather Life Tweet­ing. Although the sub­ject is present in each tweet by means of one word only, it cov­ers mul­ti­ple facets rang­ing from the lyri­cal sub­ject to Linor Goralik’s author per­sona. More­over, the Twit­ter page serves as a part of her mul­ti-lay­ered online projects: a web com­ic, sev­er­al blogs, a web­site, etc. The author sub­ject is spread across mul­ti­ple sites, which rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent aspects of Goralik’s per­son­al­i­ty. But not only the sub­ject is frag­men­tary. In her tweets, Gora­lik shat­ters Life itself to small pieces.

But RL (‘real life’) breaks into the lit­er­ary cos­mos. On 10 Decem­ber 2011, mas­sive anti-Putin protests take place in Moscow. Because of these devel­op­ments, Gora­lik uses her Twit­ter account as a news relay. Sud­den­ly, authen­tic­i­ty is cru­cial, and the oth­er­wise rather unde­fined sub­ject of ‘I see’ becomes polit­i­cal activist Linor Gora­lik. This con­stant change, shift­ing and defer­ral of both the sub­ject and life in Goralik’s tweets chal­lenges con­tem­po­rary Life Writ­ing the­o­ry.

Slides are avail­able here:


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