[-empyre-] Derek Conrad Murray in 2016

Derek Murray derekconradmurray6719 at gmail.com
Wed Jan 13 04:47:32 AEDT 2016

Hello, Empyre!

I am pleased to share my recent research interests in visual culture
studies, which, as of late, has been dedicated to exploring the
phenomenon of online self-representation—popularly termed the selfie.
My primary concern is related to the generating and disseminating of
self-portraits online as a consumer-based practice that is often
expressive of activist and/or political concerns. I recently published
a paper entitled “Notes to Self: The Visual Culture of Selfies in the
Age of Social Media” in the journal *Consumption Markets & Culture* (Taylor
& Francis),
that argues that explores the cultural fascination with selfies, with
a specific interest in the self-imaging strategies of young women in
their teens and early 20s. Looking at the social media habits of young
women on social media platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and
Instagram, the article proposes that (for some women) the selfie has
become a powerful means for self-expression. Exploring this phenomenon
through the history of feminist representational politics, the paper
explores the political urgency at the heart of the selfie phenomenon,
and contemplates whether the urge to compulsively self-image is mere
narcissism, or a politically oppositional and aesthetic form of

I have recently begun another article on the relationship between
online self-imaging and narcissism, entitled “The Narcissism Myth:
Selfies, Social Media and the Pathologizing of Women.” Popular
discussions of online self-imaging have largely characterized it as a
symptom of a narcissistic society and the expression of individuals
suffering from low self-esteem. Through an engagement with the
ever-evolving discourse on narcissism, this new research explores
inconsistencies in journalistic, clinical, and ideological
understandings of this apparent personality disorder—as they relate to
our cultural understanding of the selfie. Additionally, I look
critically at the representational regimes that have emerged in
response to this cultural phenomenon, unpacking their gendered
specificities and repercussions.

This relatively new direction in my research is in many respects a
continuation of my engagement with the representation of identity in
contemporary art and visual culture. I recently published a book
entitled Queering Post-black Art: Artists Transforming
African-*American Identity After Civil Rights* (I.B. Tauris, UK, 2015).
The book considers the controversial notion of post-blackness; a
critical meditation on the visual representation of racialized
blackness, which is often derisively characterized as a post-racial
stance. In the book I argue that a contingent of queer
African-American artists are productively reimagining the visual
rhetorics of blackness: re-envisioning its representational and
rhetorical possibilities beyond the limiting parameters of compulsory

I wish you all a happy and productive 2016!




Derek Conrad Murray, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

History of Art and Visual Culture

University of California, Santa Cruz


*Queering Post-Black Art* (I.B. Tauris, UK, 2015)


Derek Conrad Murray is an interdisciplinary theorist specializing in the
history, theory and criticism of contemporary art, African-American/African
Diaspora art and culture, Post-Black art and aesthetics, theoretical
approaches to identity and representation, critical issues in art practice,
and the methodologies and ethics of Art History and Visual Studies. He has
contributed to leading magazines and journals of contemporary art and
visual culture such as *American Art*, *Art in America*, *Parachute*, *Art
Journal*,* Third Text*, and *Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art* (Duke
University Press), where he currently serves as Associate Editor. Murray is
also currently serving on the Editorial Advisory Board of *Third Text*.
Murray’s most recent article “Notes to Self: The Visual Culture of
“Selfies” in the Age of Social Media," was published in Summer 2015 in the
journal *Consumption Markets & Culture* (Routledge, UK). Murray is the
author of *Queering Post-Black Art: Artists Rethinking African-American
Identity After Civil Rights* (I.B. Tauris, 2015).
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