Passau, Germany, 12 - 14 June 2014
Conference Organisers: Gernot Howanitz, Dirk Uffelmann
When the Arpanet – the Internet's military ancestor – came into being in 1969, it was accessible only via cabinet-sized machines. Since then, technological progress has led to an astonishing miniaturization of computers. Nonetheless, only recently has the internet managed to break free from the stationary desktop PC – at first via laptops and Wi-Fi, then via smartphones and 3G. This mobility introduces a plethora of new possibilities and challenges. Along with mobile internet access, apps and new technologies (e.g. QR codes or NFC) are reshaping the way we interact with both our virtual and physical surroundings. Although the divide between 'offline' and 'online' has not vanished completely, it is becoming more and more permeable. One example of this process may be found in today’s Russia, where the resistance movement against President Vladimir Putin is using internet-based mobile devices to organize and analyze its protests.
The conference iRhetoric in Russian: Performing the Self through Mobile Technology will focus on these new networked "extensions of man" (Marshall McLuhan) and their consequences for the way we represent ourselves, and thus our selves, online. While this process is global, it is nevertheless worth concentrating on the Russian-language internet (Runet), where, after the end of normative Soviet identity, questions of identity/identities are especially relevant. By combining the traditions of rhetoric, i.e. the art of constructing an argument, with the performative turn in the humanities, which interprets 'performances' as bodily actions producing meaning, we are seeking to better understand the highly topical field of discursively constructed virtual identities. Relying on participants' diverse knowledge in various disciplines such as Internet Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Studies and Autobiography Studies, the symposium will gain insights into the digital performances of the self, the process of identity construction and their mutual dynamic interdependence.