This unconventional fall, I’m revisiting two creative writing courses I’ve frequently taught at Hartwick College, though in a hybrid face to face/online mode. The syllabi:
Black Lives Matter
Ishmael Reed, “America’s Criminal Justice System and Me.”
Anthony Bogues, “Black Lives Matter and the Moment of the Now.”
Colin Dayan, “Police Power and Can’t Breathe.”
Jonathan Levinson and Conrad Wilson, “Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles to Grab Protesters off Portland Streets.”
Ken Klippenstein, “The Border Patrol Was Responsible for an Arrest in Portland.”
Katie Shepherd and Mark Berman, “‘It Was Like Being Preyed upon’: Portland Protesters Say Federal Officers in Unmarked Vans Are Detaining Them.”
Charlie Warzel, “50 Nights of Unrest in Portland.”
Conrad Wilson, Dirk Vanderhart, and Suzanne Nuyen, “Oregon Sues Federal Agencies for Grabbing up Protesters off the Streets.”
Gillian Flaccus, “Judge Blocks US Agents from Arresting Observers in Portland.”
I originally intended in late May 2020, when the spring semester was finally over and I had some time to finish “Spring 2020 Links (Pre-COVID-19),” to post one big link dump for coronavirus-related things. But the hyperarchival barrage of news over the past three months, including everything that has happened in the United States the past three weeks (combined with how little time I still have . . .), has made it clear that it would be better to divide posts into smaller, more manageable bits. So here is everything I came across from March 11-April 15, 2020. More to come soon.
Sheri Fink and Mike Baker, “‘It’s Just Everywhere Already’: How Delays in Testing Set Back the US Coronavirus Response.”
IHME, “COVID-19 Projections.”
Katie Zezima, Joel Achenbach, Tim Craig, and Lena H. Sun, “Coronavirus Is Shutting Down American Life as States Try to Battle Outbreak.”
Coronavirus Think Pieces (General)
Laurie Penny, “This Is Not the Apocalypse You Were Looking For.”
Naomi Klein, “Coronavirus Capitalism–and How to Beat It.”
Frank Pasquale, “Two Timelines of COVID Crisis.”
Arundhati Roy, “The Pandemic Is a Portal.”
Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff.”
Dan Kois, “America Is a Sham.”
With the aid of a Course Development Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Studies, this past year I had the chance to develop a new course at the University of Pittsburgh, ENGLIT 1002 Critical Game Studies. As I may not likely get to teach this course anytime soon, I thought I would share the syllabus.
The course’s reading includes Tom Bissel’s Extra Lives (2010), Alexander R. Galloway’s Gaming (2006), Jesper Juul’s The Art of Failure (2013), McKenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory (2007), and many interesting critical essays on play, narratology v. ludology, gender, empire, countergaming, and other related concerns. The majority of games on the syllabus are quite recent, and indie games in particular dominate, including (but not limited to): Between (2008), Braid (2008), Depression Quest (2013), Goat Simulator (2014), Papers, Please (2014), Sunset (2015), and The Stanley Parable (2013).
Robert Stephens II, “In Defense of the Ferguson Riots.”
Rembert Browne, “The Front Lines of Ferguson.”
Jack Mirkinson, “Police Threaten to Shoot, Mace Reporters in Ferguson.”
Jamelle Bouie, “The Militarization of the Police.”
Rand Paul, “We Must Demilitarize the Police.”
Matthew Yglesias, “Enough is Enough in Ferguson.”
Mychal Denzel Smith, “The Death of Michael Brown and the Search for Justice in Black America.”
LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, “Policing the Police.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race.”
And a must see: John Oliver on Ferguson.
Nuclear and Environment
H. Bruce Franklin, “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, American Militarism,” a review of Paul Ham‘s Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath.
My apologies, it’s been a busy few weeks and I haven’t had time to add anything new. So here’s couple things I’ve stumbled across recently.
In nuclear news, Craig Whitlock reports for The Washington Post that “the Air Force on Friday fired the general in charge of all land-based nuclear missiles, the second time in a week that a senior commander of the country’s nuclear arsenal has been let go for allegations of personal misconduct.” (I wonder if his misconduct had anything to do with precious bodily fluids.)
Three things from Fukushima: Mari Yamaguchi asks, “Japan’s Water Leaks: How Dangerous?” for the AP. The Sleuth Journal reports that “Radioactive Water From Fukushima Is Systematically Poisoning the Entire Pacific Ocean.”
And if that weren’t bad enough, Andrew Breiner for Think Progress writes how a “Once-A-Decade Typhoon Threatens Already Leaking Fukushima Nuclear Plant.”
And though I think I’ve reported on this/posted a picture of this before, Flickr has an arresting series of images of archival decay from the abandoned Mark Twain Branch Library in Detroit.
Here are .pdfs of syllabi for classes I will be teaching this fall at the University of Pittsburgh:
And my Narrative and Technology students will be keeping a class blog. Check it out here.
I just finished designing the course I’m going to be teaching in the Spring at Pitt, New Literature (ENGLIT 0635), which I’ve titled “U.S. Fiction in the Wake of Postmodernism,” and I am quite excited about it! One of the challenges for such a course (whose online course description is incredibly broad, literally any lit. from the past 25 years, not limited to region, country, genre, style, school, etc.), is figuring out what exactly is meant by “new” literature. Consequently, I’m beginning the course where I often end other courses–Don DeLillo’s White Noise–and am taking up very seriously the idea that the lit. we’re reading is, if not precisely “after” postmodernism (not post-postmodernism, a useless term), then at least positioned in its wake–i.e. the pomo is still around, but it has also left, or something. The class will start w/ grounding pomo in fairly “standard” ways, move through Southland Tales, through some “theory” as lit. (informed by DFWs old “Fictional Futures” essay) and end by seriously considering two U.S. novels that have gotten quite a bit of play as of late, Freedom and The Submission. New lit. indeed. Below is the major reading list, followed by the rest. . .
Don DeLillo, White Noise: Text and Criticism, ed. Mark Osteen (New York: Penguin, 1998 ).
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom (New York: Picador, 2011 ).
Richard Kelly & Brett Weldele, Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga (Anaheim: Graphitti Designs, 2007).
Amy Waldman, The Submission (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011).
David Foster Wallace, Girl with Curious Hair (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1989).
Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (New York: Verso, 2002).
And the additional reading:
Jonathan Franzen, “Why Bother” in How to Be Alone: Essays (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002), 55-97.
Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 217-253.
Jean Baudrillard, “The Precession of Simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994), 1-42.
John Barth, “Lost in the Funhouse” in Lost in the Funhouse: Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Voice (New York: Anchor Books, 1988 ), 72-97.
Fredric Jameson, “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” in Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 1-55.
David Foster Wallace, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never do Again (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1996), 21-82.
David Foster Wallace, “Octet” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1999), 131-160.
Steven Shaviro, “Southland Tales,” The Pinocchio Theory (weblog), http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=611.
David Foster Wallace, “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 8.3 (1988): 36-53, http://www.theknowe.net/dfwfiles/pdfs/ffacy.pdf.
Jacques Derrida, “No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives),” trans. Catherine Porter & Philip Lewis, in Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Vol. 1, ed. Peggy Kamuf & Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 387-410.
Fredric Jameson, “New Literary History and the End of the New,” New Literary History 39.3 (Summer 2008): 375-87.
Lev Grossman, “Jonathan Franzen: The Wide Shot,” Time 176.8 (Aug. 23, 2010): 42-8, http://www.time.com/ time/magazine/article /0,9171,2010185,00.html.
Michiko Kakutani, “A Family Full of Unhappiness, Hoping for Transcendence,” The New York Times (Aug. 15, 2010), C1, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/books/16book.html.
Sam Tanenhaus, “Peace and War,” The New York Times Book Review (Aug. 19, 2010), http://www.nytimes.com/ 2010/08/29/books/review/Tanenhaus-t.html?ref=books
B.R. Myers, “Smaller Than Life,” The Atlantic (Oct. 2010), http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/ 10/smaller-than-life/8212/
Today marks the beginning of a new school year, and it is one I am very much looking forward to, as I’ve designed the course I’m teaching, “American Literary Traditions,” subtitled, “The American Disaster: 21st C. Perspectives,” specifically around many of the avenues I’m exploring in a dissertation-type way right now. As such, I assume I will occasionally be posting on the progress of this course over the next year, and thought I’d provide the reading list for the fall semester:
Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 2nd ed., trans. Ann Smock (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995 ).
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (New York: Vintage, 1953).
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (Norton Critical Edition), 2nd Ed., eds. Hershel Parker & Harrison Hayford (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2002).
The Shock Doctrine (Matt Whitecross, Michael Winterbottom & Naomi Klein, 2009).
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (New York: Back Bay Books, 1996).
Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (New York: Verso, 2002).
It is an ambitious, and slightly idiosyncratic class, but I hope it proves challenging, thought-provoking, and fun for both my students and I. We’re watching a documentary adaptation of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine this first week, followed by reading Zizek’s book on 9/11 and Maurice Blanchot the following weeks, that’s before we even get to the three massive novels. I can’t wait to see how it all goes down.