Spring 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

358:365 Writing after the End of the World

01  09284  MILLER, R.   MW 2:50-4:10 PM

The Internet has given everyone with web access the opportunity to publish whatever they wish: blogs, vlogs, voice-over video game narrations, Instagram photo stories, fan fiction, anonymous commentary, even evidence of criminal activity. At the same time, streaming services have enabled new ways to engage with all this productivity: you can “binge” watch and “binge” listen to your choice of shows, movies, lectures, music, and podcasts from a virtually infinite catalogue of options. And new forms of entertainment are emerging where you play an active role in shaping your own adventure.

If you’re under twenty, this interactive, screen-centric world is likely the only world you’ve ever known. And for this reason, it may not be obvious to you that this world is fundamentally different from the paper-based world your parents and your teachers grew up in. Information is everywhere now; communication is instant and available 24/7; inner-connectivity is the coin of the realm. News, rumors, facts, fiction, truth, lies, conspiracy theories, doctored videos all vie for that scarcest of commodities in this new world: your attention.

We will spend the semester considering how the art of storytelling is changing as a result of the rise of the screen-centric world . . . and the end of the myth of American Exceptionalism. As we do so, we will work with a range of genres and literary forms—the podcast, the televised episodic drama, the documentary and, of course, the novel (six of them).

This is a discussion-based class, so attendance and participation are required. Expect response papers every two weeks and a final creative project.