"Reeled in and Warmly Socketed": Mass Mediated Identity of the Contemporary Literary Figure
Type of Degreedissertation
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In the literature of a globalized twenty and twenty-first century world, mass media help to shape characters’ perceptions of selfhood and agency. As media forms are incorporated into the daily lives of characters, important messages concerning identity formation result. This dissertation reflects upon both the emphatic and more subtle character interactions with mass media to uncover the shifting terrain of the past fifty years. Characters rely on books, periodicals, film, television and the internet to respond to an increasing sense of alienation and dislocation triggered by the accelerated cultural change and cultural mobility of the age. Mass media is an important tool for such characters as they search towards self-fulfillment, self-awareness and a sense of shared experience. This tool assuages their growing anxiety over the complex realities they face and, often, induces a sense of nostalgia for a romantic lost era. This dissertation highlights an ambivalence concerning the role of mass media in the lives represented and shows that viewers and users must navigate their media use carefully and understand and acknowledge the risks and potential of cultural influences.