Accessibility statement

The Digital Self - TFT00064H

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Jenna Ng
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

With the penetration of digital media in everyday life, information and communication technologies are causing to question what kind of a “me” exists in digital spaces. We are tracked by corporations and governments not as individuals or citizens, but as metadata, as patterns for surveillance and consumption. We surf the web not as users but as consumers feeding surfing data to algorithms who learn about us and learn to to be us. We render our lives into numbers, quantified in terms of our eating habits, heart rate, caffeine intake, sleep patterns. Our digital selves are now subject to a new status anxiety, as we get ranked, classified, ordered and evaluated in online spaces which determine our financial and social status.

In this module, we ask anew these old questions: against computers, against sensors, against machine learning, who are we? How do technologies affect our ideas of identity and personality, as individuals, as human beings? And to that, how do we define life itself? How do we define the human? How do we define us –how do you define yourself?

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

The main objective of this module is to study how digital technology changes and defines us as individuals, as social beings and as humans.


Module Aims:


  • To examine the practices and products through which individuals express, represent, identify and “datify” themselves online, in virtual environments, and through “self-tracking” technologies.

  • To explore how digital technologies shape the experience, identity, and notion of the self.

  • To critically think through the ideologies and other cultural ramifications of digital self-identification.

  • To broaden students’ understanding of the relationships between technology (including pre-digital precursors) and the changing cultural values, political contexts, and theoretical concepts of the self.

  • To express theoretical learning in creative practice and self-reflection.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Understanding of key theories of thinking about the self in digital environments, particularly in relation to ideas such as the individual; the dividual; the avatar; the cyborg; the posthuman etc; and in contexts such as quantification, privacy, surveillance, big data, and algorithmic culture.

  • Ability to think critically about the use of identity markers (eg race, gender, sexuality) in digital environments.

  • Ability to critique the digital self not just as data or as an online identity, but as complex politicised encounters between technology, cultural forces, social formation and political context.

  • Familiarity with cultural representations of digital selfhood through popular media such as cinema, television and photography.

  • Ability to express theoretical learning in creative practice and complemented with written analysis.


Academic and graduate skills

  • Critically think about digital culture and how it affects society and the individual.

  • Ability to use digital media in textual, oral, visual and electronic communication.

  • Ability to analyse theoretical texts and apply theory to other media texts.


Task Length % of module mark
4000 word reflective essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4000 word reflective essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive individual oral feedback for the weekly seminar sessions.


Students will also receive written feedback on coursework assignments using a proforma identifying key requirements and marks awarded for sections of the assignment. This will be available within six weeks of submission.

Indicative reading

Indicative books:


Hayles, N. Katherine, 1999, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Mitchell, W.J., 2003, Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City, Boston, Mass.: MIT Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.