PCA: F My Life

”F*** My Life: The Rhetoric of Micro-autobiographical Narrative”
Dana Anderson, Indiana University

This would have been a live blogging of the session, if I had been able to get an internet connection.

Dana is looking at the intersection of rhetoric and new media.
In general, the purpose in looking at a site like FML is to make study of rhetoric more interesting.

autobiography = prose narrative, 1st person, narrator-protagonist-author all same

Narrative discourse has long been of general interest.
Edward Boothe
James Feelings (sp?)

Autobiography has been mostly ignored.
However, if you look at the best-sellers list, an autobiography is part of every best-seller list each month (year, week, etc)

He presented a list of reasons autobio ought to be interesting, including the fact that these works are the mainstays of the literary and rhetorical classroom from Frederick Douglass to Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis).

He said that we should be having students discuss and write literacy narratives (how was it you came into literate practices).

I have actually never heard of this. The closest I have gotten is “what experience do you have in English classes?” I wonder what literacy narratives would read like. I assume that honors narratives would be richer, but is it possible that we could pull from our developmental writing students a depth of reflection on how they read and write and how they have learned to read and write? That is an interesting question that I may have to pursue.

Personally Speaking: Experience as Evidence in Academic Discourse (Studies in Writing and Rhetoric) by Candace Spigelman

Dana was thrilled to find FML; it was autobiography and rhetoric together AND the short posts matched his short attention span. 😉

The English-language site was launched in 2008.
The English version was put out by the same person who launched the French 2007 version.
Since then it has been released in lots of other languages.

FML FAQ: weird and wonderful collection on the web, in a few sentences a user can tell what event ruined their day, must start with today, end with FML, be less than 200 words

He is looking at the implications of: size, genre, intention, mediation.

Size: increased size allows for detail, but he has found no relationship between size and power

Genre: autobio much easier to classify as lit, than rhetorical. If rhetoric wants to study and classify autobiography, it would need to define autobio differently than literature does. Possible ways to examine/classify autobiography rhetorically would be:

  • clear reliance on past, forensic discourse
  • performative takes precedence over reflection= epideictic
  • need past-mindedness, present performance aspects

Intention: intention of audiences, what are aud doing when they read? People seem to expect reality. (Duh!) going from readers to judges (critai). What are the intentions?

  • audiences want more than truth, want entertainment and education
  • particularly true of those written by women in intimacy category
  • What is it that we want done to us through our reading of sites like this?

Mediation: all discourse mediated

  • aspects other than life story itself factor into telling and reception
  • “recipe” for submitting an FML
  • mediated by audience expectations

Dana said his overall intention is to offer other rhetorics or rhetorical aspects to examine to academia.

teach twitter, hadn’t thought of using FML. Any ideas?

literature and public life teaching that now?

According to the FAQ a clear sense of style is required. There is a review process.

My Life is Average… ?opposite site?
Many people miss the point of this site.
To appreciate My Life is Average, you need people who get irony.

Perhaps a better contrast, a more immediate c/c, could be made with It Made My Day.

The handout included FML texts from last night—usually the texts are both odd and serious.

in-class exercise: Write out one for each section…
difference between irony and parody

Look at the comments on FML- what do you look at with those? Life for a text after the writing. Practices in circulation, repurposed, edited and revised, etc.

What role does autobio play in shaping culture?

EVERYONE comments on FML. Comments are not filtered. Less structured.

People resent the notion that you can be lied to with autobiography.

FML is very competitive… What Mikee said… What was that?

Why would people want to get on FML? Competition involved…
fame and the impulse to fame

More on the line with FML. Anyone can have an fb page, but there is filtering. There is value placed on your life experience. Validated or not validated.

competition and validation…
site Rate My Break Up Line (?something like that) He Said/She Said
whether they think it was true, whether the person deserved to be broken up that way

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