Mairi Power

Research title: Digital Identities: Technology and Selfhood in Jennifer Egan’s Fiction

Research Summary

My thesis focuses on the relationship between technology and the human identity within Jennifer Egan’s fiction. I argue that there is a consistent conversation within Egan’s work surrounding digital culture and its infiltration into the idea of human ability and selfhood. From using the digitisation of the music industry as the basis for her 2010 novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, to herself utilising social media in the distribution of 2012 text Black Box— which was tweeted in 140 character segments— Egan has experimented extensively with the digital technologies available to 21st century writers. As a result, her work goes further than mere documentation of the presence and status of such media, but exists as precedent for the relationship between technology and contemporary fiction. Egan’s work also continues and develops the legacy of postmodernism; her work begins in the countdown to the millennium and carries on into the twenty-first century. My thesis will demonstrate how Egan’s relationship with technology shows her adaptation of certain postmodern concepts, bringing its ironic critique of a mediated, information heavy society into the increasingly digitised world of the 2000s.

I am particularly interested in the changing nature and role of the human body as technologies take over basic physical and cognitive tasks, and in the rise of online profile culture where identity can exist without embodiment. Therefore, my work relies upon interdisciplinary theory such as cognitive and digital theory and ideas of posthumanism and embodiment.


  • '"The New Heroism" in Jennifer Egan's Black Box'
    • Press Start Journal, Special Issue on Digital Heroisms. UPCOMING: Expected early 2021.
  • 'Food, Femaleness and Friendship in Ama Ata Aidoo's Fiction'
    • The Modernist Review, Special Issue on Food. October 2020.



2020: Gordon Studentship, Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies



  • ‘"The New Heroism" in Jennifer Egan’s Black Box'
    • Digital Heroisms Conference, 5th August 2020
  • Committee Chair: UofG Arts PG Conference 'AFTERLIVES: Pasts, Presents, and Futures of Arts and Cultures'
  • 'An American Institution: the Commodification of Academia in Don DeLillo's White Noise'. 
    • Scottish Association for the Study of America (SASA) Annual Conference, 29th February 2020. 
  • 'The Digitisation of Bodies, Brains, and Books in Jennifer Egan's Black Box'.
    • University of Glasgow English Literature Peer Symposium, 25th October 2019. 


Comparative Literature 1A

Comparative Literature 1B

English Literature 1B

Additional Information

Assistant Editor at U.S. Studies Online