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Practicum: The Writer and New Media

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number PRACT-UG1450
Section 001
Instructor Sarah Leonard
Days M
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U



New generations of writers assume that they will make use of new media in some capacity. Some have made their names as astute social critics on Twitter, developing large followings for their extremely short-form commentary. Others write in traditional print media and see new media almost exclusively as a tool of promotion. Most writers are some hybrid, working to produce meaningful writing that is, simultaneously, "link bait." This course will examine the new media environment for writing from all angles. It will consider how new media changes who can be heard and who gets elevated from microfame into mainstream media, how the responsiveness allowed by new media shapes how writers do their work and respond to criticism, how a panoply of forms (everything from video to Tweets to .gifs) affect how writers communicate ideas. We will also consider how access to a range of voices outside of established social and professional circles changes the job of "editor" by requiring editors to sort these new voices and integrate them into publications' pre-established personalities. The course will begin with a historical component to help students think about how magazine writing has changed with the evolution of the form, up through the 90s and aughts when nearly every magazine launched an online component. Students will then learn to parse the influence of new media in political writing, cultural criticism, and journalism by engaging with major debates in each of these fields. For example, debates between critics like Evgeny Morozov, Zynep Tufekci, and Micah Sifry have shaped how we think about social media in relation to the content and reach of political writing. Students will become fluent in the rich intellectual discourse already surrounding the role of the writer in the new media landscape.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Practicum (PRACT-UG)