Story Revolutions: Collective Narratives from the Enlightenment to the Digital Age

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University of Virginia Press, 2022 - Autobiography - 248 pages
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Social media has facilitated the sharing of once isolated testimonies to an extent and with an ease never before possible. The #MeToo movement provides a prime example of how such pooling of individual stories, in large enough numbers, can fuel political movements, fortify a sense of solidarity and community, and compel public reckoning by bringing important issues into mainstream consciousness.

In this timely and important study, Helga Lenart-Cheng has uncovered the antecedents of this phenomenon and provided a historical and critical analysis of this seemingly new but in fact deeply rooted tradition. Story Revolutions features a rich variety of case studies, from eighteenth-century memoir collections to contemporary Web 2.0 databases, including memoir contests, digital story-maps, crowd-sourced Covid diaries, and AI-assisted life writing. It spans the Enlightenment, the 1930s, and the twenty-first century--three historical periods marked by a convergence of mass movements and new methods of data collection that led to a boom in activism based in the aggregation and communication of stories. Ultimately, this book offers readers a critical perspective on the concept of community itself, with incisive reflections on what it means to use storytelling to build democracy in the twenty-first century.

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About the author (2022)

Helga Lenart-Cheng is Associate Professor at St. Mary's College of California.

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