The Platform is the Message? Transformations of Literary Writing and Reading on Facebook in Bulgaria
Abstract: The paper explores the transformations of literary writing and reading in Bulgarian on Facebook as a commercial platform. First, it explores how Facebook as a platform with particular technical affordances influences the structure of the literary text, privileging short forms and the combination of written and visual content. Most literary pieces published on Facebook do not engage in intertextual references and do not require from their readers complex knowledge of narrative techniques. At the same time, readers approach each individual post with literary content as part of the author’s Facebook page as an evolving and ongoing project. Second, the paper explores Bulgarian literary communities on Facebook and shows that they are strongly clustered, not only according to the difference between high literature and popular literature, but also according to differences between genres. Finally, the analysis reveals that while many online platforms blur the distinction between authors and readers, Facebook remains rather traditional in this respect and narrows down the types of interactions allowed to liking, commenting, and sharing. Readers on Facebook are followers, devoted fans, customers buying merchandize but only rarely co-authors. Nevertheless, the way the platform relies on algorithms to structure interactions and to privilege certain types of content and behaviour over others has remained unquestioned so far.
Keywords: Facebook, literature, implicit reader, literature communities, interactivity, platform politics
Julia Rone is a Wiener-Anspach postdoctoral researcher at the Université libre de Bruxelles and the University of Cambridge. She has a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence with a thesis on mobilizations against free trade agreements. Julia has taught and supervised at the University of Cambridge, the University of Florence, the University of Sofia, and the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Her current research explores contestations over sovereignty in the UK, Poland and Belgium. She has written on hacktivism, digital disobedience, and more recently, the rise of far right media in Europe.