Paper instructions:
) Write a short paragraph indicating your chosen topic and working thesis statement for your first major paper of the course. You should also give some indication of your supporting points, and of how you intend to use your sources.

Your topic should be focused, showing understanding of principles discussed in class and in The Craft of Research.

2) Provide an annotated bibliography listing three sources that you intend to use for your paper. Your annotations should be 3-5 sentences each.

Guidelines for MLA style annotated bibliographies are available here, here, and here. You might also consult The Craft of Research, pp. 70-73, for a short guide to locating sources.

Topic Statement and Annotated Bibliography:   Wednesday, 9/17/14 (BB)
Paper Draft:  Friday, 9/26/14 (BB)
Final Paper:  Monday, 10/6/14 (Hard Copy)
Conferences take place Monday, 9/29/13 through Friday, 10/3/14. A sign-up sheet is available here .
As  we’ve  discussed  in  class,  the  “selfie”  is  a  cultural  phenomenon  can  be  examined  from  many
perspectives.  Studies  of  the  selfie  might  ask   questions  about  cultural  values  or  attitudes;  about
technology and social media; about  identity and the self; about gender, race or class; about  art and
visual culture; about marketing and advertising; or about protest, politics and social action.
This assignment  lets you choose from a range of approaches to the topic. It also allows you choice of
essay genre, as outlined below.
• Length: 4-6 pages, typed and double spaced, formatted according to MLA guidelines.
• Your paper must use at least  three secondary sources. You must  show  evidence of  engaging
with these sources, as discussed in class and in required readings from They Say / I Say  and
The Craft of Research.
• Your paper should also reference at least  two  images, which you will include in an appendix.
• All sources must be cited in MLA style, as discussed in class.
I strongly recommend that  you consult the portfolio checklist (distributed with the course syllabus or
available online ) for guidelines regarding style, structure, organization, and genre.
Drafts  are  due  on  Friday,  September  26,  2014,  at  5PM,  and  should  be  submitted  through
Blackboard.  As specified  on the syllabus, your draft  will be worth 5% of  your grade for the course. I
can  only accept  your  final  paper  if  you  have  submitted  a  draft  and  met  with  me  for the  required
It  is  important  to understand  that  the grading  scale  and  criteria  for a draft  are much different from
the the grading  scale and criteria for the final paper. In other words, if you’ve received a grade of “B”
on your draft, you should expect that you’ll  have to make substantial revisions in order to earn a “B”
on the final paper.
Please  also  bear  in  mind  that  I  may  make  suggestions  that  will  require  you  to  rewrite  significant
portions  of  your  paper.  Be sure to budget  time for these revisions  before  the  final paper deadline.
Please  also  note  that,  depending  on  your  topic,  I  may  request  that  you  incorporate  more  than
minimum three secondary sources and/or two images.
WRT 102.83 (Feltham)
Fall 2014
Please note that the genre of  your essay will depend to some extent  upon the topic you choose (and
vice versa). Please also note that all of the topics suggested below are relatively broad, and will need
to  be  narrowed  and  focused  before  you  begin  drafting.  You’ll  find  the  strategies  for choosing  and
focusing a topic outlined in  The Craft of Research to be particularly helpful here.
You are welcome to write a paper on another topic of your choosing (as long as it addresses selfies or
selfie culture), as long  as you consult with me in advance. (I’m particularly interested in other topics
related  to  issues  of  media/technology,  politics/protest,  and  gender/sexuality  ——  but  strongly
encourage you to pick any topic that really gets you excited to explore sources and ideas!)
1. Many have noted the importance of social  media to political protest.
How have selfies, specifically, been used in protest movements? How
does  the  medium  allow  protestors  to  communicate  their  message
effectively? How does the medium shape the message?
For  this  topic,  you  should  be  sure  to  include  a  brief  background
discussion  of  the  protest  movement  in  question.  You  might  also
choose to compare/contrast two different protest movements.
Research / Analysis
2. Do  your  own  selfies  tell  a  story?  Or  does  examination  of  your  own
selfies  reveal  something  about  the  identity  you  want  to  create  or
Use a selection of your own selfies as a starting point  for a personal
narrative. You might choose selfies from a particular stretch of  time;
selfies  that  document  important  relationships  or  interactions;  or
selfies on a particular theme.
Alternately,  you  might  wish  to  focus  on  issues  of  identity  or  self-representation. What  self  do you perform through  your selfies? How
has that self changed over time?
NB:  It  is  crucial   that  you  not  use  the  images  you’ve  selected  as
simple illustrations for a story. Instead, you should reflect analytically
on the images. Think about the choices you’ve made in documenting
a particular  experience or period  of time, or ask how  examining  the
images shapes your recollection/understanding of that experience.
Personal Narrative /
Personal Reflection
3. How  do  actors,  musicians,  politicians,  and  other  public  figures  use
selfies  to  create  a  public  image?  Are  the  selfies  of  these  public
figures a  form  of genuine expression  or communication, or are  they
simply  a  new  form  of  marketing  or  manipulation?   Can  you  find
specific examples of selfies that support your argument?
Argumentative or
persuasive, with
elements of research
and analysis
WRT 102.83 (Feltham)                                                       2
Fall 2014
4. Choose two public figures, and compare/contrast their use of selfies
in  social/digital  media.  How  are  these  figures’  selfies  similar  or
different in terms of content, composition, visual style? What kind of
public image  do these  figures  create using  their selfies? Why might
they choose to create this kind of public image?
(Note: the questions posed in #3 will be relevant here!)
5. In order to explain the popularity of  the selfie, we probably first  need
to  explain  changes  in  technology  and  media  over  the  last  twenty
years. What  technologies have been  important  to  the emergence of
the  selfie?  Digital  cameras  and  social  media  have  given  us  a  new
way to share images and ideas, but have they also changed the ways
in which we think, see, communicate?
Are  there  other  historical  examples  of  ways  of  thinking,  seeing,  or
communicating have been changed by media or technology? (Or, put
another way, what do “they say”  about  relationships between media,
technology, communication, culture, identity?)
(Note: this could be a really big topic, so it’s important to narrow your
focus. Start with a couple of  sources that offer ideas on the subject,
and allow your thesis to emerge from engaging with those sources.)
Depending on your
approach, could be a
discussion essay, an
persuasive essay, a
research paper…
6. Are selfies the same all over the world? Are there particular styles or
trends  that  are popular in  particular  regions? What  do  these  styles
or trends  reveal about  cultural attitudes? Narrow  your focus  to 1-2
countries or regions.
(This topic might be particularly interesting for those of you who have
lived in more than one part of the world!)
Tip:  try  to  focus  your  discussion  on  a  particular  area  of  cultural
difference / similarity: ideas about humor; ideals of beauty; attitudes
about sexuality or sexual attractiveness; etc.
Research / Analysis
WRT 102.83 (Feltham)                                                       3
Fall 2014
7. The  leak  last  month  of  illegally-obtained  nude  celebrity  selfies
triggered  a  variety  of  reactions.  Some  commentators  were
particularly  concerned  about  issues  of  privacy  and  security  of
information;  some  asked  public  figures  would  risk  taking  and/or
storing  nude images of  themselves;  and  some condemned  the leak
as a form of sexual assault.
What  do these reactions  reveal about  our cultural attitudes? Is  this
incident  an  indication  of  problematic  or  misogynistic  attitudes  in
online  communities?  How  might  you  connect  this  incident,  or
reactions to it, to the idea of “rape culture”?
(Note: this could be a really big topic, so it’s important to narrow your
focus. Start with a couple of  sources that offer ideas on the subject,
and allow your thesis to emerge from engaging with those sources.)
Depending on your
approach, could be a
discussion essay, an
persuasive essay, a
research paper…
WRT 102.83 (Feltham)                                                       4
Fall 2014

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