Social Media Before You Were Born

Lorraine Piroux (French)

Nowadays, many of us in the Western world would find it rather difficult to make sense of who we are without social media. Much of the feeling that we exist in the eyes of others comes from the interactions we develop through social media and social networks. However, critics of social media have argued that these kinds of virtual interactions too often take the place of "real" contact with others. They also contend that social media users alienate their true self when they represent themselves on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, etc. These kinds of debates, though, are not new. At other times in history, people have also relied on social networks and media in order to represent themselves to others, give meaning to their existence, and guarantee their integration into circles of social and professional advancement. In this seminar, we will go back in time to explore the ways in which French and English thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth-centuries have discussed the social nature of human beings and their desire to be socially integrated. Our goal will be to understand what these early modern modes of sociability can teach us about the way we construct our social lives today.

Course Number: 
01:090:101 section 71 index 11528