Course Title: “The Internet and Participatory Culture”
Taught By: Visiting Assistant Professor of the Writing Program Ana Hartman
In this writing seminar, students learn to read and write, critically and purposefully, on what has become a new and highly populated public space: the internet. I created this course as a response to a pressing need: we all must adopt a critical awareness of the many facets and uses of the internet— of what it brings out in us— what it tells us about ourselves as both its audience and its participants. In order to do so, we have to frame out smaller categories.
In this class, students investigate three staples of web culture: cancel or call-out culture, meme culture and the culture of web activism (also referred to as clicktivism or slacktivism). As we progress through the materials, students recognize that these categories tend to overlap and push a larger conversation as to how we negotiate the new participatory nature and culture of the internet. At the end of the term, students reflect and track how their attitudes toward a given facet of internet culture have developed and evolved over the time they have spent with it.
I have been incorporating materials that speak to the powerful tool that is the internet into my writing pedagogy for the past few years, and have found that students respond with a new kind of energy; it’s exciting to look closely at this thing with which we are all so familiar, but at the same time not familiar with at all. Let’s write about it.
[For example,] pick a word to describe the internet. Make it either a noun or adjective— Go!
It’s a task that’s both very simple and very difficult, and one that provides us with a kind of hint as to what the internet demands of its audience, which is you and I and all of us.
Which word did you choose? Having thought about it for some time now, I chose the word “labyrinth,” a descriptive noun in that this place is more than just a maze. There are no edges here. Oh, and also, it’s invisible, that is, once you get through the screened entrance.
And yet we step into it all of the time, night and day, perhaps without much certainty.
“The Internet and Participatory Culture” is a writing course, or a course that teaches students to communicate. And because the internet is the thing that most people— worldwide— use to communicate, it has become ever-important that students not only develop an awareness of what they are sending out into the world, but of what is being communicated to them by others on the web. By others, I mean you and I and all of us. Do you see the labyrinth forming?
Learn more about other seminars offered by the Writing Program.