Samuel E Evans

“Fifty Shades of Greyhound,” by Key, “America the Marvelous,” by Gill

Progygm: Vituperation

“The intellectuals, the movers and the makers and the creators, the dinner-party establishments of people who count, are united in the belief—no, the knowledge—that Americans are stupid, crass, ignorant, soul-less, naïve oafs without attention, irony, or intellect,” (Gill para. 2).

Americans are fat, dumb, and lazy. This is a common theory I have heard repeated from countless British relatives and foreign acquaintances over the years, including from my parents, to the point that until I reached some point of teenage maturity or more likely rebellion, I almost accepted it. My parents, grandparents, aunts, nearly everyone will, as a casual aside, as if it goes without saying, remark about how different and inferior the customs, consumerism, mannerisms, and attitudes of the American populace are to those of Britain or Europe.

This attitude is, without a doubt, snooty and self-aggrandizing. It is unfounded, and hilariously quite hypocritical, as oftentimes those same people will be as ready to note the flaws and recent failures of their own cultures. My dad, for example, upon returning home to England will immediately complain about how uptight people are, and how every parking garage, supermarket, and public restroom in his homeland seems to be trying to rip him off. My relatives simply act this way because it is the common farse under which Europe, fading in relevance, reassures itself of its importance.

Britain, once a bastion of global power and wealth, has now been reduced to its current, and possibly righteous position as just another indebted neoliberal democracy on the edge of the continent. With this decline and adaptation, however, the attitude towards its now full-grown daughter across the pond has not changed. This attitude was taught to each generation of British youth through to the ’90s, alongside a heaping pile of imperial glorification and denial. In the end, it’s not their fault that they’re wrong, as the realization that they are in fact believing a lie can be somewhat depressing, as seen in a plethora of modern British media. I, as a dual citizen and someone who has been educated from an entirely different perspective, can see the reality and humor of it. I’ll argue with my parents over it, but beyond that, it appears a lost cause.

This kind of denial is common to many former powers, it seems. Look at the French, who go to the bizarre trouble of “preserving the quality” of their language through the Académie Française, or the Dutch who are the literal kings of holding onto random overseas colonies. When you’re used to being on top, you like to pretend it’s still that way by criticizing the new and reminiscing about the old. America is not dumb, fat, and lazy, it is amazingly weird, clever, and diverse. Just because America doesn’t present its gifts of knowledge and culture wearing up in a suit and tie, that doesn’t mean the gifts aren’t there to be given. There is a reason that immigrants and travelers from the Old World have flocked to the New for centuries, in search of a Hunter S. Thompson-esque Wild West of opportunity. As Harrison Scott Key writes about his learning about America by traveling by the joyous mode of a Greyhound bus:

“They will remember only the people and the America it showed them and the wild and reckless reasons that drove them to it: to see a girl, or a headstone, or a mountain. And they will recall it fondly, as I do now,” (Key para. 63).

Catherine Dodd Corona

Cardell and Douglas


Progymnasmata: Comparison

Cardell works through the reasoning, popularity of the selfies and how it pertains to travel. She emphasized the premeditation people put into their selfies and why there is so much thought behind it. She stats that, “Selfie-takers are routinely pathologised as vain and narcissistic, a simplistic con- struction that critics have increasingly begun to complicate (Rettberg 2014; Senft and Baym 2015; Warfield 2014).” Even though a person taking a  selfie is not always a way of bragging and living a life for an audience many people have clinged onto that vain aspect of a selfie taking. Cardell works to dive into the self fulfilling fasist of selfie taking through academic writing while another women does it through art. Stephanie Leigh in an interview with Insider states that selfies in her opinion are ““bragging” in the context of “I was here”.” (Millington, 2019) Therefore Leigh create “Stedfies” a form of anti selfies. When she finds herself at a picture worthy landmark, she lays on the ground as if she were dead and has someone take a photo. It does not fit the typical selfie template but the media and society has deemed them as such. The message Leigh sends with her anti selfies is quite different from what Cardell defines as a selfie. Leigh’s art building on the vain themes Cardell discusses, especially with Leigh’s message being, “It is my hope STEFDIES promotes the idea of ‘everyone is perfect exactly how they are, and not a damn thing has to be changed,'” she said “Don’t wait for the perfect time or the perfect shot — just be you, and that is good enough, and at the end of the day, incredibly interesting.”(Millington, 2019). Her followers eco this message by saying, “Many school groups follow the STEFDIES series, as they consider it a good tool to teach young adults there are alternatives to the perfectionism of selfies and online culture,” she said. “STEFDIES welcomes everyone to participate, and doesn’t care about about status or perfection.”(Millington, 2019).

Phillip Wade Wilson

Selfie and the way of the influencer: Commonplace

“much of the negativity that surrounds social media and selfies can be contextualised within broader cultures of youth shaming”

Something that I found lacking in this article was the way in which Cardell and Douglas, perhaps, do not fully understand social media from the aspects of Gen-Z. Specifically, I want to highlight the fact that in my generation we grew up using all of these technologies and being exposed to the world at such a young age that had never been seen before. This came at the extent to which parents had difficulties monitoring their children’s internet behavior and many many parenting guides about online behavior came about but none captured what they should have. I remember as a child seeing things I should not have seen, going to sites that I should not have been going to, and having giggles or conversations with my friends at the age of 10 that I definitely was not ready for. Though, these parenting guides on monitoring online behavior were about children texting using codes or acronyms or sending naked pictures back and forth between each other… from experience growing up this was not the issue.

What the selfie and explosion of social media gave to children were lasting internalized traumas of being lesser than or not good enough based on the posts we were seeing from influential figures. I remember opening up Instagram in high school and seeing models and fashion and wealthy people showing me how I ought to live because this is what I should be striving for. Differences were not accepted and even so, in the creation of one of the newest social media platforms, TikTok, its algorithm for who would become a star was based on eurocentric, petit, and wealthy models. Time and time again has it been accused that algorithms created by Big Tech are made with such inherent bias that many are left out and unable to fully join in and interact with the global online community.

Jack Albert Nusenow

The Selfie, New and Old Travel Writing

Progym: ekphrasis, argument

While it seems to be getting less and less stylish to take and share selfies, in actuality, my sense is that no one has slowed down. The first accusation in conversations about selfies is their vanity. Critiques of selfies is an artistic sense often rely on this quality as a means of attacking selfies’ potential to be rhetorical in some way. This extends to selfies as a form of travel writing. The first sentence in the introduction of Kylie Cardell & Kate Douglas’s essay on selfies as travel writing immediately brought to my mind a famous picture.

At 23, Beatles' lead guitarist George Harrison clicked an iconic selfie at the  Taj Mahal during his 1966 India visit

George Harrison, at 23, standing in front of the calm, shallow pool that reflects the memorial’s figure feels anything but vain. The fisheye selfie features the Taj Mahal as the one point perspective with reverence, not vanity. It highlights Agra’s beautiful greenery and their vibrant blue sky. If travel writing’s “purpose” (if it has only one) is to spur curiosity and inspire travel, this picture, for me, is a perfect form of travel writing. It says more without words than most stories could, while leaving mystery to provoke a serious desire to visit the Taj Mahal.

If Cardell and Douglas are right, and selfies are indeed on the forefront of travel writing, they’re nothing new. They’ve only been made ubiquitous.


Nathan Ryan Reeves

The Selfie as Travel Writing-Thesis/Theme

The selfie is an unconventional way to travel writing, and I’d say that compared to traditional writing they develop the same feeling to the viewer, but with different avenues. Travel writing displays the destination through words and descriptive phrases. With selfies in travel writing, the main focal point is not the person but rather the vacation or destination around them. Selfies have their pros and cons to traditional writing, but both aim to accomplish the same thing, displaying travel through a medium that can invoke inspiration.

For instance, in the reading “Visualizing lives: “the selfie” as travel writing, Kylie Cardell and Kate Douglas discuss the differences between travel writing and selfies as travel writing. There are some problems with the use of this form of travel expression, but overall, the paper revolves around the context of travel posts on Instagram.

One important point that I think could be at the forefront of their arguments was the context of taking selfies, and whether travel writing in the form of selfies is appropriate. There is this famous case of a girl named Breanna Mitchell, who took a selfie when she was at Auschwitz and posted it on Twitter and other social media. The internet exploded since this kind of selfie was disrespectful, and self-centered. Using this example, there seem to be unspoken rules around the form of travel selfies in accordance to not disrespect where you are. The centralism involved with selfies makes the person seem self-centered in a place that is not meant for that. In that, the authors imply that there is an appropriate way to post about these sensitive topics. In my opinion, I feel that the selfie has been around for so long that it should be expected that people would know the appropriate times and not at a place where there were human atrocities, but rather taking selfies at a place where you can appropriately express the place you are visiting. If the place is touchy and means something to you directly, the authors have stated that there are other ways to document it, that are not selfies.

All in all, the selfie is a good tool at the appropriate time to display appreciation for the location you are visiting, however, there are these unspoken rules that people should be aware of for the sake of respect. The form of memorialization is a clear-cut thing to sway from when possible. However, this contemporary documentation can create interesting travel narratives, when done correctly.

Samuel James Conroy

Selfie Thesis

Thesis Progymmasmata

            Kylie Cardell & Kate Douglas dive into the world of the selfie in their article, “Visualising lives: “the selfie” as travel writing.” They discuss the rise of the selfie in recent times as phones have evolved to a point where we can take a picture of ourselves and upload it to the internet for anybody to see. The selfie is now used as a way for people to brag about their travel adventures for the world to see. In my opinion, this is not a beneficial trend. Personally, I am not a fan of the selfie as I think it is unhealthy for someone to look at themselves in a camera for that much time. In the travel world as well, selfies have become an unneeded source of competition among tourists around the planet.

Travel writing, as we previously read, has been diluted with the rise of the internet as more and more people are able to write about the places they have been, even if they are not educated well on the culture they just wrote about. The selfie only exemplifies this dilution. As mentioned, the selfie has created a competition amongst people on the internet to have this coolest picture and to show off where they have been. There are now “selfie-designated” spots in popular tourist areas due to the astronomical rise in taking a picture of yourself. This has become such an issue that certain places have banned the selfie due to people clogging up the areas too much. Also, the crave to have the best selfie has led to numerous deaths where (for example) someone will try to climb something that clearly should not be climbed, then they fall to their deaths. This is truly tragic as no one should feel so pressured by the internet to take a selfie that they put themselves in harm’s way. No longer is travel about seeing cool places that can only be experienced in person, now, all that matters are that you took a picture of yourself in front of these amazing places. People have become too focused on themselves rather than the places they are traveling to, leading to travel now becoming a bragging match. People simply travel to snap pictures of themselves, upload it to Instagram, and then brag about how many likes random people on the internet have gave them.




Lucas Enrique Fernandez

The Selfie as Travel Writing


As mentioned by Cardell and Douglas, the selfie has become an increasingly popular mode of visual travel writing. However, in my opinion, this change in the popularization of the selfie has been a negative one. The point was brought up that the selfie allows for the subject (the picture taker) to place themselves around notable travel destinations and landmarks, documenting the travelers journey. Contrary to this, I find that people take selfies to display themselves rather than the beautiful destinations they travel to. Selfies are thankless towards the places they are taken and vain in nature. Many people take these selfies purely for the reason that they can upload it to social media websites and push off empty experiences to their followers. The only kind of post I may hate more than the travel selfie is the food picture people put on their stories instead of just putting their phones away and eating it. When I associate the selfie with travel it makes me think of annoying tourists rather than authentic travelers. They are the type of people who do not genuinely appreciate the culture they are surrounded by, only capturing small glimpses in their camera lens of what they could obtain through their own senses. Instead of making themselves the focus of their travel narrative through taking a selfie, people should instead put their phones down and appreciate the place they decided to travel to.

Aongus Mui

“The Selfie” vituperation

Visualising lives: “the selfie” as travel writing- Kylie Cardell and Kate Douglas
Progym: Vituperation

Authors Kylie Cardell and Kate Douglas are in direct affiliation with the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences of Flinders University in Bedford Park, South Australia. They studied in Travel Writing, shedding light on how the rise of technology has influenced the type of pictures taken on vacations. The idea that selfies are taking over travel is very true but yet it is hard to accept. Selfies have given travel a bad rap. People take selfies to show off on apps like instagram, all for a simple like. These people put their own appearance over their surrounding areas. It puts the self taker’s face over their environment, ruining one of the fundamentals of travel which is enjoying the view. The idea of doing typical tourist things have come up before but the use of selfies seems to be the new normal. These types of photos were taken to specifically show other people that they were at a certain location. In other words it is a way for someone to show off their travels.

Ehren Joseph Layne

On Selfies – Opinion/Thesis

There is nothing anybody can say to convince me that selfies are about anything other than the selfier (the person taking the selfie – yes we are creating words). To take a selfie is to prioritize yourself over your surroundings, your vanity over your sanity, your perception over your reception; selfies are not tools of self-expression, but rather instruments of self-obsession. As selfies continue to grow in popularity amongst the young and the old, there have been cultural shifts in how people relate themselves to the world and the world to them. Whether a selfie is taken at a memorial site or a famous restaurant, the goal of the selfie is the same: to place oneself in the world and reflect their image upon it. Some might consider this a form of self-expression: for someone to reflect themselves upon the world is for them to take notice of the world and place themselves in a position of reflection, admiration, consideration, appreciation, and expression. This ignores the fact that selfies themselves are, by definition, separate from the world; rather, they exist to make the selfier the world(hence the strained importance on the word “self”). People have injured themselves trying to take selfies – died even – all for the sake of making the world revolve around them. Rather than the appreciation and admiration some would say encapsulate the true nature of the selfie, the injury caused by the selfie provides an alternative narrative: one of self-obsession. People who take selfies are self-obsessed, they care more about outward appearance and recognition for said appearance over inward qualities and the world around them. Tourists who take selfies at various locations are not doing so because they believe said location is of great importance; it’s quite the opposite – they believe that they can take importance away from the location and place themselves in the space created. They are what is most important, they are what matters. Selfies taken at weddings and other forms of public or private celebration are done so to make certain that the selfier is seen; seen by others and, most importantly, seen by themselves. The celebration only matters so much that it allows the selfier to say, “I was here” or “They are with me” or “I did that”. Never is the other recognized in the selfie; however, when the other is emphasized more than the selfier, the other acts to make the selfier seem righteous for giving the other more space to be important. No matter how you spin the selfie and its implications, the selfie always falls back on the self: I matter, I am important – look at me for this is my world, and in my world, nobody else matters besides me.

Paula I Arraiza

Vanity Within Traveling

Progym: Refutation

While Cardell and Douglas make some valid points about selfies can be complex and have meaningful value, I believe these pictures are mainly still taken with nothing but a vain purpose behind them. In their writing, the two authors go in-depth about people taking selfies when on a trip, specifically in historical sites where it can be deemed as insensitive. When talking about one of these places, the ANZAC Cove in Turkey, they mention that

“Visitors to this site are drawn to the particular national context and complex history of the site, but they are also increasingly tourists, equipped with mobile devices and engaging in performances of documentation and memory-making that exceeds, or extends, the commemorative function of the site in its geographical location”

Because of this, tourists are prone to take pictures and selfies no matter the place. They argue that while it can be seen as impolite and careless, these pictures can be taken with the purpose of reflecting on the meaning of said place or to teach a certain audience about it.

While this is a strong point, I believe they are being too optimistic about it. Yes, some people do take selfies with the intent to tell a story or educate others, many tourists take selfies to post on social media for others to see where they are. I’m sure we’ve all taken a selfie before while on vacation, and I’m also sure we haven’t thought “I’m going to post this to teach something about the place I’m at.” Instead, most of the time we’re thinking “I’m going to post this so people close to me (or whoever follows you) can see where I’m at” or “I’m going to post this so I can look back on this moment and the place I was visiting.” I admit I’m part of this, if you look at my Instagram it’s filled with travel pictures where the main focus is myself and not the place, which I posted with no real purpose except wanting to share where I was at and remember it. There’s a sense of vanity that comes when taking a posting a selfie, whether we admit it or not. As the authors themselves mention,

“The selfie in everyday life, as in travel, is evidence and “bragging” in the context of “I was here”

After all, the main focus of the picture is us and not the place we’re visiting, which attests to our purpose when taking and posting said image. Would we focus the picture on ourselves if the goal was to bring attention to the place we’re at, or to teach others something about the place? There’s definitely nothing wrong with posting a travel selfie. In the end, it’s our account and we have the liberty to post whatever we want to, as long as it follows the guidelines. However, we shouldn’t think there’s a greater purpose for what we’re doing in order to make ourselves feel better about it. While I do agree that we take selfies with the intent to share our experiences with those who follow us, I don’t think that in most cases this has any other greater purpose behind it except letting others know about our fun vacation.