Self Media Lab. Writings, Performances, Technologies of the Self


Founded in 2013, the Self Media Lab Study Center (Department of Humanities, University of Pavia) intends to undertake a permanent interdisciplinary approach to writings, performances and technologies of the Self, with particular attention to the forms and ways of self-portraiture and autobiographical writings in contemporary times. It proposes international seminars, lectures and conferences given by scholars regarding specific publications, topics of interest and research projects shared with other Italian and foreign universities.

The project in five points

1. Origin

The Self Media Lab. Writings, Performances, Technologies of the Self is a project born in February 2010 in Rome (Fiat Imago, Pereat Mundus conference). The laboratory aims to create an interuniversity research group interested in gathering various aspects of the ongoing reflections regarding forms and ways of self-portraiture and autobiographical writings in contemporary times, beginning with an analysis of this phenomenon’s effects in the context of the new technologically advanced scenario of art and media.

The first stage of the project was thought of in light of a series of seminars, lectures and meetings aimed at creating a preliminary bibliography on this subject and an initial mapping of experiences, works and web projects analyzed as case studies to identify the characteristics and the extent of contemporary self-inscriptions phenomena.

The second stage included the definition of common research perspectives and the creation of a work plan aimed at tracing the characteristics of self-portraiture in new mediality, reflecting on the impersonal dimension of gestures facilitated by new technologies. The outcome of the research was a publication edited by Federica Villa, Vite Impersonali. Autoritrattistica e Medialità, Pellegrini Editore, Cosenza 2012.

Since 2013, Self Media Lab intends to become a permanent archive about writings, performing arts and new technologies. It particularly wants to encourage the interdisciplinary discussions born from the union of various Ph.D. projects ongoing in some Italian (University of Pavia, University of Turin, Catholic University of Milan, University of Padua, University of Udine, University of Messina) and foreign universities (Université Nouvelle Sorbonne – Paris 3, University of Cork).

2. Fields of interest

The research conducted by the Self Media Lab follows three areas of intervention:

  • the writings of the Self, in connection with the production of autofictions, found footage, autobiographies, diaries, letters, etc.
  • the performances of the Self: playtexts connected to narrative theatre and to the restitution, in the form of monologues, of chronicle and History
  • the technologies of the Self: forms and ways of contemporary technologically advanced self-portraiture, social network profiles, time-lapse self-portraits, blogs, photo galleries, video letters, etc.

As regards these areas of intervention, the Self Media Lab wants to:

  • revise the mapping of phenomena, works and ongoing projects
  • define an initial framework of the case studies stressing several main topics of interest (subjectivity, impersonal, collective vs. individual, public vs. private, series, chronology vs. dating, memoirs, testament, etc.)
  • focus on specific artistic experiences or web projects to find a systematic approach of the phenomena

3. Activities

The Self Media Lab aims to set up a university network dedicated to forms and ways of self-portraiture and autobiographical writings in contemporary times. To do that, it proposes:

  • a series of international study seminars (the first one was on April 10, 2013: Rewriting and Self Inscription. History, Images, Memory)
  • lectures and conferences given by scholars and built around specific publications or topics of interest to the Self Media Lab
  • the creation of a constantly updated website highlighting different objects of study
  • a tutoring service for doctoral researches relevant to the topics of interest for the Self Media Lab

4. Organization

Federica Villa and Fabrizio Fiaschini coordinate the Self Media Lab. It includes an International Scientific Committee ensuring the quality of the proposed research projects. The Steering Committee outlines the researches and shares the annual planning; the Organizational Staff operates internally and is responsible for the planning, the organization and the general carrying out of the activities. It cooperates with a series of External Collaborators according to their specific scientific skills.

5. Location and contact details

The Self Media Lab (Sezione Spettacolo, Department of Humanities of the University of Pavia) is located in Palazzo San Tommaso, Piazza del Lino, 1. 27100 Pavia. | + 39 0382984774

Seminars and Conferences:

The Self Media Lab Study Center has also contributed to the planning and organization of the four editions of the International Summer School ‘The Safekeeping of Memory’.