Beyond the Subject. Vienna Conference Papers

The Online Self: Memory and Forgetting in the Digital Age


  • Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir University of Iceland



Life Writing, online self-expression, social networking Sites


Online self-expression has proliferated in the last decade or so to such an extent that more people now than ever before engage in some sort of autobiographical activity. Social networking sites are the main gateways for this expression and their framework and rules and restrictions influence the type of narrative told there. This essay examines this given framework, the role of memory and forgetting in this process and how the story is told in words and images. What is remembered and forgotten online and in turn our digital traces must influence our sense of identity. Constantly telling one’s story in words and pictures online opens up new autobiographical practices, some of which in one way or another hark back to earlier practices, such as the diary or the use of the family album in autobiography, others are strictly the result of the new technology. What influence this will have in the long term is difficult to envisage, as the future use of these traces seems to be out of our control.


THis article was submittted on May 1st, 2014 and published on November 3rd, 2014.

Author Biography

Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir, University of Iceland

Gunnthorunn Gudmundsdottir holds a PhD from the University of London. She is a senior lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland. Her research interest include life writing; genre studies; photography; and writers’ autobiographies. Among her publications on life writing is the book Borderlines: Autobiography and Fiction in Postmodern Life Writing (Rodopi: Amsterdam and New York, 2003).





Beyond the Subject. Vienna Conference Papers