Wednesday, September 23 // 2:00PM ET
For the Gram
Moderated by Jonathan Flowers
The next episode of Theorizing the Web Presents, “For the Gram,” features two new takes on visual culture in social media. In “The Secret Life of Pet Instagrams,” Dr. Jess Maddox demonstrates how pet content on Instagram provides joy and creates communities of care through a process of follower fragmentation. In “Century of the Selfie,” Emily Stainkamp shows that, while selfies may be relatively new, cultural anxiety about what a “self” should be is at least 100 years old — and is often connected to the emergence of new media.
The Secret Life of Pet Instagrams: Follower Fragmentation, “Warm Fuzzies,” and Digital Care
Jessica Maddox
Why do we love pets on social media, and what would compel someone to make an Instagram account exclusively for their pet? Dr. Jess Maddox’s talk, “The secret life of pet Instagram accounts: Joy, resistance, and commodification in the internet’s cute economy” sheds some light on one of the internet’s most adorable phenomena.
Century of the selfie: On the cultural history of narcissism as a social problem
Emily Stainkamp
In this talk, I will propose a research program that examines the contemporary idea that social media have created a generation of narcissists. The work examines periods in twentieth-century American history where the proliferation of new media technologies was accompanied by increased scholarly, artistic, and cultural interest in the nature of the individual. I will propose that social anxiety about pathological selves has been connected to new media during Freud’s heyday in the 1920s and 30s, as well as following the height of new Left social movements in the 1970s, and finally during the neoliberal turn toward self-esteem in the 1980s.
Jessica Maddox (@DrMadMaddox)
Jess Maddox is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative at the University of Alabama. She researches visual social media, internet video culture, and pop culture, and of course, you can find her dogs on Instagram at @TheMaddDogs.
Emily Stainkamp (@raym0ndwilliams)
Emily Stainkamp is a PhD candidate in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University. Her work focuses on social media and subjectivity.
Jonathan Flowers (@shengokai)
is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Worcester State University. His research focuses on the affective ground of experience and embodiment through American Pragmatism, Phenomenology and East-Asian Philosophy. He also focuses on Pragmatist and cross-cultural approaches to machine intelligence, consciousness, and science and technology studies broadly.