A College Course On Selfies?

“Notable & Quotable: Selfie Hermeneutics.”   The Wall Street Journal, 8/17/2015.

Selfie by an expert.

Selfie by an expert.

I think the word “hermeneutics” in the title is misused, but with a word that obscure, who’s going to argue, especially with the WSJ?  What caught my attention was a sentence beginning the second paragraph that said,

“In USC’s #SelfieClass—formally known as ‘Writing 150: Writing and Critical Reasoning: Identity and Diversity’—freshman students critically examine society’s influence on self-identification and how selfies reflect and affect the global culture in which we live.”

I wrote a posting on selfies published here on 9/16/2013, but I never thought to teach it as a college course. (Sigh, another missed opportunity.)

This would be taught only in California and only at the University of Southern California. I have taken advanced Chemistry courses with complex names, but this had me puzzled. What could it possibly mean, and why is it so fundamental to learning that it is taught to freshmen? It didn’t sound like any English class I ever took.

I thought perhaps I could get a clue from the background of the professor teaching it, Mark Marino. The WSJ article said his work often focused on digital spaces and netprov. Maybe looking up “netprov” would help. The first posting in a Google search was a paper co-authored by Marino where they say in the introduction, “While Improvisation is deeply connected to the authorial practices of players of MMORPGs and their MOO precursors (LaFarge) and to players of story-generation games such as Jason Rohrer’s “Sleep is Death” and to participants in ARGs, we are specifically interested in text-centered improvisation that has as its goal the creation of a narrative or narrative world, rather than primarily the development of a game experience.”

Gasp, gasp, I am drowning in jargon.  Not much help.  Sounds like someone fishing for a government grant by making a topic sound overly complex and minority-orientated.  Is someone pulling my leg?

He is quoted in the WSJ article as saying, “The cultural moment of the selfies will pass and become something that’s iconic of our age . . . ”

The selfie will become iconic of our age?  We easily overestimate the prevalence of popular trends enthusiastically reported in the media.  I bet less than one out of a thousand people have ever taken a selfie, or even know what a selfie is, or even care.  What’s that tug I feel again on my pant leg?








About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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