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“But first, let me take a #selfie”:

Photographic Self-Representation in Social Media

 

On Thursday, February 9th, the Department of English and Cultural Studies and the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship will be co-hosting a public lecture on photographic representation in social media by Dr. Aimée Morrison.

 

Dr. Morrison is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in the Department of English at the University of Waterloo.

 

Time: 1:00-2:30 pm

Location: the Sherman Centre at Mills Library (first floor).

Following the presentation, there will be an informal (drop-in) coffeehouse with Dr. Morrison in Chester New Hall 332 from 3:00-4:30 pm. Graduate students are warmly encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be served, and all are welcome.

Abstract:
In The Chainsmokers’ 2014 novelty hit song, “#Selfie,” a valley girl vocal-fries and uptalks her way through a stream of consciousness vocal track, narration swirling around a centre of Instagram likes, casual hookups, and public drunkenness, all captured and shared on social media. Like “Valley Girl” in the 1980s, “#Selfie” codifies and crystallizes a cultural moment and a set of in-group behaviours and language, to both celebrate and condemn simultaneously. But this kind of disavowal and dismissal misses the point: selfies are ubiquitous across contemporary digital culture. No matter how much everyone seems to hate them, everyone also seems to be taking them. The urge to have a photographic representation of oneself is of course not new. Photographic portraits have existed since the dawn of photography; self-portraits followed soon after. As long as there has been photography, there have been images of people, commissioned by the subjects themselves at first, but soon enough taken by themselves as well. But the “selfie,” as practiced in online social media, is something new even if it’s not rare, a conjunction of technology, social practice, aesthetics, and sharing platforms. This talk considers the selfie as a form of digital life writing, using rhetorical genre, new media studies, and autobiography to tease out the multiple layers of meaning in each bathroom mirror bicep pop.