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Invitation to the Defense of Anke Dyes

Organisational Units
Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Location Address (1)
Schillerplatz 3
Location ZIP and/or City (1)
1010 Vienna
Location Room (1)

The Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna kindly invites you to the defense of Anke Dyes´s dissertation project Best Gay Ghosts – Lesen, Schreiben und Empfehlen von Liebesromanen in digitalen Netzwerkstrukturen.

The Examination Panel is made up of: Doz. Mag. Dr. Assoc. Prof. Axel Stockburger (chair), Prof. Diedrich Diederichsen (first supervisor) and Prof. Johanna Schaffer (external appraiser, Kunsthochschule Kassel).


The following dissertation will examine the transformation of the reader into the user from a cultural studies perspective and, in particular, the significance of the theory of performativity for this transformation.
It will focus on the influence of regulation and adaptation to digital networks, as they not only shape our understanding of what a user can and cannot do, but also increasingly replace the analysis of a contradictory or ambivalent relationship to (mass) media, such as the reader to what she reads, with unambiguous models of feedback and regulation.
But the role of the reader of digital content is just as ambivalent as that of the analog reader: The Internet has not solved the problem of the passive masses, nor is the agency it conveys only part of the manipulation within regulatory structures. 
Rather, the role of the reader, who has now become the user, can be described as contradictory: she is affected and unintentional in her dealings with algorithmic structures. At the same time, she has a fixed identity. Her online actions correspond to this identity. She gives her legally binding consent to be tracked, even if she is alienated from her data and representation. She is responsible (and feels called to use and communicate this responsibility) for what she sees, how she reacts, and the recommendations she receives based on her feedback, and at the same time she has no control over the structures in which these recommendations are made.
The recommended lists on Goodreads, which serve as the main example for this dissertation, show how users themselves create a recommender system. At the same time, they illustrate a basic principle of how digital content works: different protagonists, always the same story.

Short biography

Anke Dyes is an artist and a writer. She graduated with a Master's degree in Critical Studies from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 2013. Her most recent publications are "A Substantive Theory of Harm" (2019) and "Future Laws against Fat Shaming" (2021).

The defense presentation will be in German Language and will take place at the Academy of Fine Arts at Schillerplatz 3, room M13a. We are looking forward to welcoming you.