The Long History of Selfie Culture

Ted Barrow at Strand Bookstore

Thu, Jun 27 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

Does it seem like our current culture is the most self-obsessed to date? People have been saying that for 500 years. Join art historian Theodore Barrow in the Strand's rare book room for a deep dive into the selfie and the modern self through the lens of art history.

​Does it seem like our current culture is the most self-obsessed to date? It has seemed like that for five centuries. If anything, our current mania over self-obsession wielded by the hand-held black mirrors we carry in our pockets is only the latest in the habitual renegotiation of self-fashioning whose roots were planted in the 16th century. Are we living in the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? Will this incessant narcissism be our undoing, or lead us to greater self-discovery?

Let's explore these conundrums and more in this Olio which reframes modern selfie-culture against the backdrop of Western Art History, beginning in the Italian Renaissance. What issues were at stake when an artist painted themselves in the 17th century, versus how we represent our selves today? Join art historian Theodore Barrow for a dynamic deep dive into the aesthetics of self-fashioning in western painting.

Teacher: Ted Barrow

Ted Barrow teaches in Barnard College's Pre-College Program over the summer, focusing on the relationship between art and film in New York City, and has taught art history courses at Baruch, City College, the College of Staten Island, and Brooklyn College. Barrow currently teaches at Cooper Union, and runs a popular satirical Instagram account about skateboarding (@feedback_ts).


Venue: Strand Bookstore

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

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If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


Other Upcoming Olios


New Toys and New Tyrants: Capitalism and the Rise of Platform Economics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Rob Larson

June 4, 2020, 8 p.m.

A Dialogue: Buddhism and the Stoics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Bhante Kusala & Michael Prettyman

June 5, 2020, 8 p.m.

Seeing the Subconscious: Mindfulness, Psychology, and the Road to Healing Racism

Location: at Online

Teacher: Darryl Aiken-Afam & Robin Schlenger

June 7, 2020, 7 p.m.

Internet Omnipresence & Critical Thinking

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

June 8, 2020, 8 p.m.

Escape From The City

Location: at Online

Teacher: Ted Barrow

June 10, 2020, 8 p.m.

Progressives, Radicals & Well-Meaning Liberals

Location: at Online

Teacher: Angie Beeman

June 11, 2020, 8 p.m.

Plato Goes East: The Republic and The Bhagavad Gita

Location: at Online

Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

June 14, 2020, noon

Socialism, A Day in the Life

Location: at Online

Teacher: Danny Katch

June 15, 2020, 8 p.m.


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Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.