Creative Writing on the Wall: Literary Practices on Facebook

Critical Writing
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

Leonardo Flores has identified the latest trend in electronic literature, which he calls its ‘third generation’, as one that happens on social media, using and/or abusing, hijacking the affordances of popular platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and so on. Much has been written about various aspects and genres of twitterature; I have myself presented ‘video writing’ on YouTube at the 2017 ELO, and examined digital authors’ attitudes towards Facebook as a space for communication elsewhere. I now propose to look at a different use of Facebook as a literary space in which creative writing practices emerge that would not exist without this platform. Focusing again on French and Francophone authors, often (yet) unpublished in print, this paper will explore a range of modes of, and approaches to, writing on the Facebook wall, including the form, poetics, rhythms of publication, and motivations, both by individual authors and in the case of a collective project, drawing on the work of a handful of authors. Milène Tournier and Nathanaëlle Quoirez propose original poetic texts as status updates with great frequency, pieces of fiction or poetry that vary in length and that are not meant for later publication elsewhere but which the authors consider to be an important aspect of their literary practice. Marc Jahjah publishes poems often accompanied by a photo, also returning to perfection the texts after their first publication, countering the logic of the ephemeral. Gracia Bejjani also publishes photos that are not always new at the time of publication, accompanied by just a few words or lines, often including a (rhetorical) question, usually with some metaphorical and poetic link between text and image. She also practices video writing with Facebook as first mode of publication. In a very different style, Bruno Lalonde proposes often philosophical reflections on life and literature, sometimes in an aphoristic style, sometimes longer, as we could read in a writer’s notebook or diary. In a similar spirit, translator André Markowicz writes entire mini-essays on, as well as draft translations of, the (Russian) texts he is translating and beyond. Last but not least, Nouvelles de la Colonie is a collective project run by a group of avatar-characters who have created a fictional world called The Colony, an allegory, among others, of the social media world where everyone has a well-defined role and is closely watched. Members of the Colony publish entire short stories on the Page that constitute a feuilleton, while also constructing a visual image using motifs of totalitarian systems. While these texts do not constitute ‘electronic literature’ in the sense of the authors intervening on the code level, they appropriate a digital space that was not primarily meant for literature in order to practice modes of writing, often intertwined with other media, that is native to this space and uses the affordances of this specific environment. The main objective of this talk and the research that underlies it is to explore what this digital space and its affordances might do to literary writing, and vice versa, how and to what extent writing of a literary quality might transform this space.

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Vian Rasheed