Internet-Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview
I have a new piece over at McSweeney's. HFACTDEWARIUCSMNUWKIASLAMB! Here's a taste:
Course DescriptionRead it all here.
As print takes its place alongside smoke signals, cuneiform, and hollering, there has emerged a new literary age, one in which writers no longer need to feel encumbered by the paper cuts, reading, and excessive use of words traditionally associated with the writing trade. Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era focuses on the creation of short-form prose that is not intended to be reproduced on pulp fibers.
Instant messaging. Twittering. Facebook updates. These 21st-century literary genres are defining a new "Lost Generation" of minimalists who would much rather watch Lost on their iPhones than toil over long-winded articles and short stories. Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets glimmer with a complete lack of forethought, their Facebook updates ring with self-importance, and their blog entries shimmer with literary pithiness. All without the restraints of writing in complete sentences. w00t! w00t! Throughout the course, a further paring down of the Hemingway/Stein school of minimalism will be emphasized, limiting the superfluous use of nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, gerunds, and other literary pitfalls.
Students must have completed at least two of the following.
ENG: 232WR—Advanced Tweeting: The Elements of Droll
LIT: 223—Early-21st-Century Literature: 140 Characters or Less
ENG: 301—Advanced Blog and Book Skimming
ENG: 231WR—Facebook Wall Alliteration and Assonance
LIT: 202—The Literary Merits of Lolcats
LIT: 209—Internet-Age Surrealistic Narcissism and Self-Absorption
140 Characters or Less
Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets come alive with shallow wit. They'll learn how to construct Facebook status updates that glitter with irony, absurdity, and dramatic glibness. When tweeting, for instance, that "John is enjoying a buttery English muffin," why not add a link to an image of a muffin with butter oozing from its nooks and crannies? Or why not exaggerate a tad and say that there's bacon on that muffin, even if there's not? It's called poetic license when writers do it! Students will be encouraged to show honesty and vulnerability in their tweets: "Lydia is lounging about in her underwear at 401 Park Street apartment #2, feeling guilty about telling her boss that her uncle died but enjoying the day off." There's no such thing as oversharing when you're a writer.