Playful Twitter accounts and the socialisation of literary institutions




Twitter, Humour, Arts-informed research, Literary communities, Book publishing, Social media


Humour serves a variety of purposes on social media, from aesthetic content creation and social interaction through to corporate and institutional branding. Playful social media accounts tap into existing knowledge while building and consolidating networks. This article presents a contextualising model of commercial, cultural, and specifically bookish humour on Twitter, addressing such humour’s global reach and local context (Australia). We employ a practice-led approach and report on our creation of two playful Twitter accounts that promote AustLit, a repository of metadata about Australian literature. Quantitative and qualitative analysis demonstrates that scholarly institutions and academics were more likely to follow the pseudo-authoritative, numbers-focused @AustLitCodex account, but that the more broadly popular and engaging format was the enthusiasm of @AustLitTrip (which has a sheepdog persona). These accounts demonstrate the scope for playful Twitter to build audiences for cultural institutions and promote positive, albeit niche, online discussions.

Author Biographies

Millicent Weber, Australian National University

Millicent Weber is a Lecturer in English at the Australian National University. She researches the intersections between live and digital literary culture, and is the author of Literary Festivals and Contemporary Book Culture, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018.

Beth Driscoll, The University of Melbourne

Beth Driscoll is Senior Lecturer in Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne and the author of The New Literary Middlebrow: Tastemakers and Reading in the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave, 2014). Her current research includes the Australian Research Council Discovery Project, “New Tastemakers and Australia’s Post-Digital Literary Culture”, as well as a forthcoming short monograph on bestsellers and the Frankfurt Book Fair to be co-authored with Claire Squires.




How to Cite

Weber, M., & Driscoll, B. (2019). Playful Twitter accounts and the socialisation of literary institutions. First Monday, 24(3).