On behalf of the Department of British Culture at the Institute of English Studies, we would like to invite to a talk in the New Media in Contemporary Culture series, summer edition 2021/2022.
May 10, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.
Zara Dinnen (Queen Mary University of London)
Becoming User in the 1990s
Dr. Zara Dinnen is a senior lecturer in contemporary literature at Queen Mary University of London and author of The Digital Banal (Columbia UP, 2018), for which she was awarded the best 2017 monograph prize by the British Association for Contemporary Literature Studies and co-editor (with Robyn Warhol) of The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Narrative Theories (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018)
A significant cultural and popular revisiting of the 1990s has been taking place over the last few years. From that context, this paper is interested in the 1990s as the period of the emergence of the world wide web, and an imminent form of subjectivity: the internet user. With reference to recent pop cultural representations of the 1990s internet user, this paper asks: how do we become user? This paper will discuss later seasons of TV show Halt and Catch Fire (AMC, 2014-2017); Joanna McNeill’s cultural history and personal memoir Lurking (Picador, 2020); and artist Olia Lialina’s lecture-performance “end-to-end, p2p, my to me” (Transmediale, Berlin 2020). These representations of user-subjectivity tell a story of the user as an emergent historical subject, becoming through normative temporal and historical processes, and in material relation to the user position imagined for them. The paper will discuss the process of becoming user, and how these representations of history narrate the contemporary user subject that has come to pass.