Course Description

(L14) E Lit 317 | T-TH 4-5:30pm | Office hours: W 2-4pm & by appointment

“I personally was on Facebook for two weeks as part of a piece of journalism I was writing — it seemed sort of dumb to me. Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose…It’s the ultimate irresponsible medium.” 
-Jonathan Franzen

Whether contemporary writers love it or hate it, “new media” such as blogs, wikis, video games, and social media networks have become a central part of contemporary society and the subject of much contemporary fiction, including Franzen’s. This course will explore how 21st-century American writers represent and incorporate forms of new media, mostly focusing on the novel but also considering works that experiment with new media platforms and expand our sense of what literature is and can be. How does new media influence the way individuals relate to each other, themselves, the nation, and the world? What kinds of communities, social movements, and political coalitions are made possible? What threats to privacy, democracy, or truth do they pose? What does it mean to be American in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world? What counts as American literature? From established writers to new emerging voices, from the novel to Twitter fiction, we will explore the widening landscapes and evolving shape of contemporary American fiction in the social media age.