McSweeney's is running a hilarious piece that pretends to be an "internet-age writing syllabus and course overview" by "instructor" Robert Lanham. The course offers a much-needed review of writing that really matters today -- funny Twitter and Facebook messages, the art of the self-involved status update, and so on. The course description says: "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." As a person who has literally watched Lost on his iPhone (and blogged about both Lost and iPhones), I feel this course is crucial to our survival in a new digital age. Also, something about newspapers.
Here's a snippet from the syllabus:
Prerequisites 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: 102—Staring Blankly at Handheld Devices While Others Are Talking 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
Read the rest of ENG 371WR: Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era for a nice chuckle...that may hit very close to home.
(Photo by Flickr user dbdbrobot, used under Creative Commons license.)