I tell myself : performing identity in a digital public sphere
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This thesis examines new and expanding forms of personal storytelling in digital culture, asking whether they are contributing to a meaningful evolution of the public sphere, or merely fostering a culture of narcissism, as some charge. Theories from fields ranging from performance studies, political science, psychology, media studies, and life writing—along with my personal experiences creating a filmic performance entitled I Tell Myself (a 75-minute video production that complements this report)—have convinced me that much of the identity-construction potential found in art forms such as live autoperformance and written memoir is also found in Internet confessionals and other contemporary filmic forms which, on the surface, may appear to be largely solipsistic. I show that current tendencies to blur distinctions between public and private discourse are leading to an emerging form of democratic agonism that is culturally transformative.