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Tuesday, April 24 • 11:35am - 11:55am
Pixelated Faces In IRL (In Real Life) Places: Exploring How “Textese” In Melissa Broder’s So Sad Today Builds Community Among Confessional Women Writers

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Published in 2016 shortly after she revealed herself as the author behind the popular @SoSadToday Twitter account, So Sad Today is a collection of personal and confessional essays by poet and essayist, Melissa Broder. With a focus on highlighting autobiographical topics such as her struggle with mental illness, the impact of casual sex on her understanding of love, and the crippling existential dread that permeates her everyday life, Broder uses “textese” – or texting language – in So Sad Today to write about the intimate details of her life. The ways in which she employs textese resonates with a broad audience but especially with millennials who are familiar with technology-related language trends that continue to evolve with digital innovations. In interviews, Broder has commented on the influence confessional writers, including Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, have had on her work; certainly readers familiar with the history of confessional literature can see how Broder’s work fits into that history. Broder has said that Plath and Sexton “weren’t afraid to bring emotion into poetry, and they showed the weave between darkness and light.” Yet Broder’s use of textese sets her collection apart from other works of confessional literature, and this thesis examines how the incorporation of this developing language trend opens a space not only for readers but also for aspiring women writers in particular who might want to use a similar technique to write about difficult life experiences. By applying reader-response criticism and reception theory to Broder’s work, this thesis contends that the digital era is ushering in a new kind of confessional literature, one that in some ways is even more welcoming to those who might otherwise have difficulty giving voice to their stories, all the while acknowledging that such digital access is not ubiquitous.


Tuesday April 24, 2018 11:35am - 11:55am PDT
232 Karpen Hall