an honorary lecture at Amherst College
Social media platforms have made “confessional speech” both ubiquitous and, at the same time, mundane. This talk will focus first on new media artists who take the outpourings of others as the basis for their art. These artists focus on social media because they’re interested in the relationship between the individual and vast social or political structures.
That’s how they relate to the second topic in this talk: recent campus activism, which often begins as an act of protest on the ground, but reaches the world by going viral on social media. Much of this activism is itself confessional—sharing life stories, daring to be vulnerable in public—and this raises the question: how do these protests catch our attention and keep it when social media have made confession so mundane?