Prompt: How do your selfies produce or obscure a sense of your identity?

How do we create our selves? These days, one selfie at a time. And each selfie bears information that can be used to read our identity characteristics: our race-ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and socio-economic status.

Painted toes overlook the spray from a speed boat. What do we learn from Beyoncé’s feet? (Instagram photo by Beyoncé Jan 16, 2015 at 11:56pm UTC).

Take or choose 5 selfies of yourself. You may be alone or with another person, but try to make sure you are a central and large part of the photo. All of the selfies should be different.

Examine your selfies for your performance of:

Consider these identity characteristics independently and as they intersect, forming and informing each other.

Sitting statuesque among ancient stones. Instagram photo by Beyoncé * Jan 6, 2015 at 9:56pm UTC.

Write a thesis-driven essay in answering the prompt:

How do your selfies produce or obscure a sense of your identity? Choose 5 selfies of yourself and analyze them for your construction of three intersecting and overlapping identity characteristics.

Look at all elements of the way you present yourself
-Clothing, pose, facial expression

But also the elements of the framing of the picture:
-Background, lighting, proximity, angle of the camera.

And last any other elements in the picture:
-People, animals, objects...

The icon recreates an iconic image of workingclass women’s might. Instagram photo by Beyoncé * Jul 22, 2014 at 1:41pm UTC.

Reflection Questions:

The Grill re-imagined a la Vampires at Tiffany’s. Instagram photo by Beyoncé * Apr 13, 2014 at 10:38pm UTC.

Although you will be choosing 3 identity characteristics, please do not write a five paragraph essay, giving one paragraph to each characteristic. Instead, create a thesis and develop your argument as you go, building and deepening your argument, adding nuance as you go.

Serene MacBooking with head turned, mindfulness via Cupertino. Instagram photo by Beyoncé * Jan 22, 2015 at 12:16am UTC.

Relevant Readings:

Jill Walker Rettberg: Seeing Ourselves Through Technology
W.E.B. Dubois. "Of Our Spiritual Strivings." The Souls of Black Folk
Herbert J. Gans. Symbolic ethnicity: The future of ethnic groups and cultures in America
Stuart Hall: Representation and the Media
Judith Butler: Your Behavior Creates Your Gender

Additional Questions for reflection


#Selfie Class: a section of Writing 150: Writing and Critical Reasoning under the thematic of Identity and Diversity at the University of Southern California

Mark C. Marino
writer/researcher of emerging digital writing forms. Prof of Writing @ USC, Dir. of Com. for ELO, Dir. of HaCCS Lab

Adeline Koh
former postcolonial studies and digital humanities professor who got fed up with academic BS and quit in 2016. She now runs her own small batch Korean-influenced skincare company, Sabbatical Beauty, and teaches folks how to make skincare in the online Homebrew Beauty School.

BuzzAdemia Now!

A Journal for Buzzy Like-Reviewed Scholarship