Have you ever wanted to get college credit in dicking around on the internet? The University of Pennsylvania has just the class for you! And yes! It’s that University of Pennsylvania!
Starting in Spring 2015, the English Department will offer a creative writing seminar called “Wasting Time on The Internet,” and its course description promises that its students will do exactly that: “Students will be required to stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting through chat rooms, bots, social media and listservs…Distraction, multi-tasking, and aimless drifting is mandatory.”
To justify the existence of a class called “Wasting Time on The Internet,” professor and renowned poet Kenneth Goldstein asks his students to turn their tweets, Facebook posts, Yos, and whatever the kids are using these days, into works of literature, using the power of their oh haha look at this funny video lol:
We spend our lives in front of screens, mostly wasting time: checking social media, watching cat videos, chatting, and shopping. What if these activities — clicking, SMSing, status-updating, and random surfing — were used as raw material for creating compelling and emotional works of literature? Could we reconstruct our autobiography using only Facebook? Could we write a great novella by plundering our Twitter feed? Could we reframe the internet as the greatest poem ever written? Using our laptops and a wifi connection as our only materials, this class will focus on the alchemical recuperation of aimless surfing into substantial works of literature.
In an interview with Vice, Goldsmith dismissed the idea that the internet is only Facebook cats and boobies, signifying nothing. “We’re writing an enormous amount, but somehow the culture keeps devaluing that. I think, yes, this is real writing,” he said. “If we can claim that writing as poetry let’s say, that alienation and guilt can be expunged and the writing can be celebrated. We can look forward to wasting time on the internet instead of deriding it.”
(By this standard, BuzzFeed will probably get a Nobel Prize in Literature in 20 years.)
[Image via Shutterstock]
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