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Imaginative agency: new possibilities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe European Journal of Life Writing
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2019

King's Authors


This article presents imaginative agency as a new theoretical concept with great potential for life writing studies, especially digital life writing. It draws on a wide range of concepts and contexts to discuss selective histories and workings, proposing ways in which imaginative agency can fit into philosophical and aesthetic debates about capability, performativity, ethics and artificial intelligence. I argue for making a distinction between imaginative agency and creativity, owing to the monetizing of much creative activity. I explore agency in relation to aesthetic human capability, through comparison to the non-human, particularly whether bots can demonstrate imaginative agency in art and literature, and through questions of ethical agency in online practices like trolling and malware. Contexts relevant to imaginative agency in digital and social media practices, such as algorithms, crowdsourcing and augmented reality, are explored in terms of political considerations which tie cultural creation to wealth creation— a shackling from which imaginative agency can provide some liberation.

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