The Global Networks of Twitter Literature



In Twitter and Tear Gas, Zeynep Tufekci argues that Twitter has enabled networks of protest on a global scale previously unseen. Yet these global networks are not just ones of protest; recently, Twitter has increasingly served an international literary community. To measure the change in the global writing network on Twitter, I scraped Twitter using Python scripts and Twarc (developed by DocNow), for hashtags related to the writing community (such as #fictioncommunity). The data I gathered showed that between 2014 and 2017, there was a 600% increase in the use of Twitter as a space for literary engagement; in 2017 alone, over 600,000 tweets were identified as related to the writing community. This data thus indicates a growing literary culture that is fusing literary and social concerns in a public and visible way. My paper seeks to reexamine the circulation and implications of world literature enabled by Twitter as a literary platform. The global reach of Twitter has been augmented by the robust Twitter translation community; Twitter is thus defining an alternative structure of globality that breaks down national and cultural borders. In turn, this alternative globality has profoundly altered the shape of the reading public along socioeconomic and generational lines. Using both aggregated data and readings of particular tweets, my paper calls for sustained scholarly attention to the use of social media as a force that is redefining the global literary community.