What is supposed to happen to students in college? What do they do with college once they graduate? What do English majors do with college, in particular? How is what we do changing as technology and the economy change college education?
In this course we’ll explore these four questions and their interactions. To address them, we’ll read and talk about the contemporary university and what is happening to it. We will read two novels and some non-fiction about the “creative industries” to which many English majors are drawn after graduation (publishing, editing, education, music, film, creative non-fiction, web design, fan fiction, graphic novel writing, new media content creation, advertising, podcasting, entertainment journalism, etc). These issues will be individualized and personalized: each of you will identify a possible career path, inventory what you know and what you can do, and use some of the quarter to start bridging gaps to help you move from where you are to where you would like to be a few years from now.
This course is designed as a collaboration. We will work in tandem with Duke University professor Cathy N. Davidson’s course, Histories and Futures of Higher Education, and with Stanford University professor David Palumbo-Liu’s course, Histories and Futures of Humanistic Education: Culture and Crisis, Books and MOOCs. All three courses are part of a consortium called The History and Future of Higher Education, and will run at the same time as Prof. Davidson’s Coursera MOOC (massive open online course) on the same subject. We will meet with the Duke and Stanford courses via Google hangout several times during the quarter. Two of these meetings will include Prof. Doris Sommer, creator of Harvard’s Cultural Agency Project, and the Bay Area’s Howard Rheingold, author of NetSmart and many other works on technology, collaboration, and creativity.
Graded work will consist of a couple of short assignments and a final collaborative project that can be a paper, a creative piece, or a proposal for a post-English major start-up, non-profit, or creative activity. Non-graded feedback will be continuous.