Social media pose the greatest challenge to the novel since its rise to social influence in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a key genre for imagining personal identity and social affiliation. Because digital social media are capable of representing individuals directly, without the mediation of representative texts such as the novel, autobiography, and personal memoir, they challenge the very representative status of such literary texts. In short, it is not just the shift from print to digital media that has challenged the novel as a dominant form for social representation; it is also the shift in representative status that social media make possible. The essay traces the historical shift from the literary protagonist with whom readers identify to the cinematic celebrity to the socially manufactured subjectivity available to everyone on various social media.

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