Framing Nostalgia: How Digital Folklore Evokes the Past to Construct the Present
The internet is a tricky and intangible place. On the one hand, it connects us with a world of knowledge and information. On the other, it allows anonymous sources to edit and post a truth that may be the furthest thing from reality. Digital folklore texts – those stories adopted by online communities for adaptation and dissemination – exploit this enigmatic aspect of online communication. Many of these stories take advantage of their audience’s wistfulness for a time that has passed and may be lost in the recesses of memory. The narrative framing of digital folklore incorporates nostalgic aesthetics to curate an unsettling but plausible representation of the past. This thesis uses Kris Straub’s short horror story ‘Candle Cove’ (2009) and its surrounding paratext to dissect how digital authors represent the past to immerse their audiences in a curated reality. Digital folklore stories focus on real or fictional pieces of lost media – texts that have left no complete copy and exist only in their paratext or audiences’ memories – and have been dissected by audiences keen to uncover or alter the truth. This thesis includes an analysis of the reception and fan contributions to the texts, such as the comment sections and online discussions. I suggest that, despite their different mediums, plots and creators, digital folklore texts demonstrate shared characteristics that highlight the potential of digital folklore to curate a past that both perverts the nostalgia of audiences and is credible enough to be immersive.