The Age of Sharing? Practices of Sharing in Contemporary Media, Literature and Culture

(20.-22. March 2019; University Koblenz-Landau/Germany)

The concept of sharing has become pervasive in the 21st century. We are encouraged to ‘share’ our digital data (e.g. facebook) and to participate in the ‘sharing industry’ (e.g. Airbnb). Moreover, popular self-help literature emphasizes that we should develop healthy intimate relationships through sharing or disclosing our innermost thoughts and feelings. While these are quite diverse practices, the concept of ‘sharing’ emphasizes a link, endowing them with a positive value. This extraordinary career of the concept ‘sharing’ has led sociologists such as Nicholas John to dub our contemporary time as an ‘age of sharing’. The practices subsumed under ‘sharing’, however, have also given rise to controversy. Critics point to thorny issues such as data protection or challenge what they perceive to be a dubious reduction of the individual to a ‘quantified self’: a self that is measured by and understood through numbers. Big data is used to map the identity of individuals (e.g. consumption habits, credit worthiness). The ongoing controversy on sharing illustrates how closely concepts and practices of sharing are tied to seminal shifts in sociocultural and medial landscapes. This conference seeks to bring scholars from different disciplines together (e.g. media/film, art, literary and cultural studies; sociology; ethnology) to explore the cultural work that key concepts of ‘sharing’ in contemporary culture fulfil. Of particular interest is the contribution of contemporary media, literature, and the arts to critical discussions of ‘sharing’. In what way do representations of sharing in contemporary media and literature provide a new perspective on our understanding of ‘sharing‘? How may contemporary conceptualizations of sharing contribute to our understanding of new medial developments or artistic-economic practices (e.g. new marketing strategies: book trailers in which the author shares personal or fake information about the writing process and/or his life to increase the impression of an intimate text)?

Topics for papers may include, but are not limited to:

  • contemporary conceptualisations and critical assessments of ‘sharing’
  • the use of ‘sharing’ as a concept to understand or analyse contemporary medial, aesthetic and social developments (e.g. participatory media, theatre livecasts, …)
  • representations of and discourses on sharing in the media, literature and the arts
  • the history of self-marketing strategies in literature and art (with a focus on developments in the 21st century, e.g. book trailers as means for both authors and publishers to target audiences and for readers to share their favourite books with other readers, hence creating a ‘communal’ reading experience)

Please send your abstract (ca. 250 words) and a short bio blurb to and by JULY 15th, 2018.


Confirmed keynote speakers are Dr. Btihaj Ajana (King’s College London), Dr. Nicholas John (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and Dr. Julian Hanich (University of Groningen).