Course description

Honors Colloquium

The Originals: A Look at Female Photographers in a Pre-Selfie Era

About this 1-credit course: “Let’s take a selfie!” Four powerful words that represent a significant cultural marker of society today. Learners in this course will venture back to a pre-selfie era and explore the work of female photographers who used self-portraiture in their portfolio of work. Learners will situate the work of those professionals within today’s social environment, in which the selfie has become a cultural phenomenon. Learners will consider their own participation in the selfie-craze and the implications it may or may not have on the art world and beyond. Learners will respond to presented topics and lessons learned through the creation of an enlightened selfie series of work.

Course learning objectives and learning tasks

Learning Objectives

The objectives for this course, and how they align with meaningful course tasks, follow:

Learning Objectives:Your Tasks as a Learner:
Critique works by both historical and contemporary female photographers.Two art analysis exercises
Evaluate competing, complementary, and overlapping definitions of self-portraiture.A position statement focused on selfie culture
Reflect upon your own usage of the selfie as a means to documenting, storytelling, and reflecting.A brief artist statement about your own selfie creation
Create works of art that explore the topics of self, identity, popular culture, transformation, culture, and memory.Original works of art for display (a series of 5-10 selfies)
Display your work either publicly or virtually, and gather real audience member feedback as you further reflect on the selfie as a cultural marker.A group curated display, marketing of your mini-show and a group reflection
Assessment policy


You will quickly see, we are up to something different in this course – your development as a reflective onlooker and creator. Our focus on selfie culture and the self-portrait is simply the means by which we’ll do this. Our overall goal is to help you grow as a person and meaningful contributor to visual culture, and neither I nor anyone else can really assess this, only you. To that end, there will be no grades in this class other than the final course grade and you will decide what that course grade will be. We will talk as a class about qualities we think make for quality work. If I have a reason to believe your assessment of your grade is inaccurate (either too high or too low), I will contact you for a conversation. There are no points, no specifications on each assignment, no averages, percentages, tests, quizzes, etc. You will get out of this experience what you put into it, and my putting grades on things won’t be what you learn or remember from the course. While I’m not going to be giving any grades this semester, I will not be absent from your assessment process. I will be asking to see your work in order to give you feedback and to help you stay on track. I may give you an indication of whether I think you are doing adequate work via a check +/- system. I encourage you to stay in close contact with me throughout the course to ask for help, ask questions, etc. This approach to grading places the responsibility for your learning where it belongs – on you.

Course resource list

Meeting Two: The Rise of Photography in Female Self-Representation

Wednesday, August 30, 2023


  • Various female artists (see a preview list at the end of the syllabus)
  • Greenberg, J. (n.d.). The female lens. [Video]. YouTube.
  • Jones, A. (2002). The “Eternal return”: Self-Portrait photography as a technology of embodiment. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 27(4), 947-978.
  • Linden, L. (2019). Women with cameras: The invention of the selfie in the photography of Anne Collier. Camera Obscura (Durham, NC), 34(2), 195-207.
  • McKeon, L. (2021). The women who reshaped modern photography. Aperature.
  • Migdol, E. (2022). What was it like to be a woman photography in the 19th and 20th centuries? Getty.
  • Smithson, A. (2022). Photographers on photographers: Liliana Guzman in conversation with Bea Nettles. Lenscratch.
  • The National Gallery of Art. (2021). The new woman behind the camera virtual opening. [Video]. YouTube.
  • Shane Lanning (they/them)

    Shane Lanning is an Instructional Consultant in the Division of Online and Strategic Learning. Their academic background includes an MA in Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), which they earned at Ball State, and they are currently pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition. They previously taught as an Instructor of ESL in the Intensive English Institute where they developed a passion for international students and internationalization efforts; moreover, Shane strives for an inclusive teaching practice and is interested in exploring how to best achieve community in a rapidly evolving educational landscape.