London College Teaches “Selfie” Photography

By: Mary Cranston

We have all done it, as soon as the camera on your mobile device had the ability to switch to a mirror image of your face, seflies became a part of life.  

The term "selfie" was discussed by photographer Jim Krause in 2005, although photos anticipating some of the formal aspects of the selfie can be seen in the self-taken photos that were particularly common on MySpace. Writer Kate Losse proposes between 2006 and 2009 (when Facebook became more popular than MySpace), the "MySpace pic" (typically "an amateurish self-portrait, often taken in front of a bathroom mirror") became an indication of bad taste for users of the newer Facebook social network. 

Initially popular with young people, selfies gained wider popularity over time. By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered selfie one of the "top 10 buzzwords" of that year; although selfies had existed long before, it was in 2012 the term "really hit the big time". According to a 2013 survey, two-thirds of Australian women age 18–35 take selfies—the most common purpose for which is posting on Facebook. 

The popularity of selfies in social media has been astounding. According to wikipedia, Instagram has over 53 million photos tagged with the hashtag #selfie. The word "selfie" was mentioned in Facebook status updates over 368,000 times during a one week period in October 2013. During the same period on Twitter, the hashtag #selfie was used in more than 150,000 tweets. 

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Recently a London college launched a class on the "Art of Self-Portraiture." 

City Lit, admits not being a conventional college, but having more in common with a continuing education program as opposed to a degree-conferring university. 

The British school is daring to tread with a significant trend. Now more than ever, it appears academics see the self-portrait and other internet cultures, as subjects for serious academic inquiry. 

Just think about other buzzy college classes to make news in recent months. You can study YouTube, online porn and "wasting time on the Internet," it's about time the "Selfie" gained some attention.

When you sum it all up, you start to wonder why more colleges have not followed suit. Increasingly, mainstream academic seems to understand the seflie as a cultural artifact and perhaps the mainstream public does too. 

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