Presenting the public self: Persona, celebrity and social media remediation

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation only


Over the last centuries, different forms of communication, media and cultural technologies have transformed the way human cultures communicate, connect and share their relations, ideas, information, and collective practices. This presentation looks at the emergence of the public version of ourselves and how this has mutated over the last 2 centuries, and more specifically over the last 20 years and how our identity is linked to social media and digital culture.

My writing and research have developed some concepts that help us understand these transformations of the public self and these will guide this lecture and presentation (see Marshall 2010; Marshall, Moore and Barbour, 2020; Marshall 2020; Marshall 2021; Marshall 2022).

First, I will define the idea of the representational media and cultural regime, an era of how media forms such as newspapers, film, radio and television in particular created a culture of visibly prominent individuals that, in effect, represented wider dimensions of their particular culture. Film stars and political leaders best express this different era of representation of public figures and can be grouped under what we know as forms of stardom or celebrity.

Second, and with greater focus on what has transformed primarily in the 21st century, I will define the idea of the presentational media and cultural regime, something where our public versions of ourselves have migrated to a pandemic of mediatized performance of the self in and through social media. Billions are now comfortable with presenting a performative and mediatized self-identity across different collectives and definitively part of our lived everyday contemporary culture. The presentational media and cultural regime has led to all of us presenting ourselves in a digital reconstruction. But it has also led to the emergence of what is generally called an “influencer” culture, where new ranges of connection, opinion leadership, and forms of following and alliances are part of the social mediatization of everyday life.

What helps us connect the representational media and cultural regime prevalent in the 19th and 20th century to the presentational media and cultural regime of the 21st century is the idea of persona. Persona identifies the strategic and fictional construction of our public self: this presentation explores the transformation of this public self into a digital remediation where new dimensions of public, private, forms of emotion and collective connection have been built solidly and with structures of influence that are reshaping the future of what we might define as human cultures. This presentation will piece together these concepts to help us understand the process of remediation that is prevalent in contemporary digital culture and its formations of collective connection and new presentations of the mediated self where each of us possesses, performs and presents a version of ourselves in online cultures.

Marshall, P David (2022) “Correlating affect and emotion: Covidiquette and the expanding curation of online persona(s).” Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology. Special issue “Upheaval: Affect, Emotion and Practice in Times of Crisis”, Vol 169:1, pp. 8-25 - Available Online
Marshall, P David. (2021) “The Dual Strategic Persona: Emotional Connection, Algorithms and the Transformation of Contemporary Online Reviewers.” In Unni From, Nete Nørgaard Kristensen and Helle Kannik Haastrup (eds.) Rethinking Cultural Critique: New Voices in the Digital Age. Palgrave Macmillan. Pp. 113-135
Marshall, P David (2020) “Celebrity, Politics and New Media: An Essay on the Implications of Pandemic Fame and Persona.” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society. 33, pp. 89–104. Available Online
Marshall, P. David, Moore, Christopher, and Barbour, Kim (2020) Persona Studies: An Introduction. Wiley Blackwell
Marshall, P. David (2010) “The promotion and presentation of the self: celebrity as marker of presentational media”, Celebrity Studies. Vol.1: 1, March 2010, pp. 35-48
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2022
EventUniversity of Copenhagen Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics guest public lecture 2022 - University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 27 Oct 202227 Oct 2022


OtherUniversity of Copenhagen Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics guest public lecture 2022
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