ENG 2150, Section HTRD: Pay Attention! Or, what is our brain on the Internet?

It is no secret that in recent years, how we pay attention and how much we are able to  multitask is the subject of many conversations. More and more adults and children are diagnosed with various attention disorders, and more and more adults and children spend the majority of their days (and lives) in front of a computer screen. We no longer really talk to each other, instead we text, instant message, facebook, tweet, etc.—and many people spend most of their time doing all of these things at once. Books with titles like The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (Nicholas Carr) and Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (Sherry Turkle) are often bestsellers—which certainly says something about where people’s interests are these days.

We will begin the semester examining and writing about our own experience with attention and attention spans, while reading Cathy N. Davidson’s newest book, Now You See It, which poses the question, do the myriad of new digital tools at our fingertips actually enable us to “harness our different forms of attention and take advantage of them?”  Other possible texts we’ll consider will include: excerpts from Brian Christian’s The Most Human Human, Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody, among others. We will also look at various genres of literature and “creative writing” that are either computer-generated/reliant as well as Samuel R. Delany’s New York science fiction writings.

Through a wide variety of readings and writing assignments, a focus will be placed on the connection (and tension) between the human and the machine, the tangible and the digital. We will also think about the ever lurking question of—in a world where these is so much text (and more produced every second), what distinguishes my writing from yours?  This course will emphasize both the process and product of academic writing through in-class writing assignments, weekly response papers, rough draft workshops, self and peer edits, and individual conferences with me.

Illustration by Charis Tsevis

 Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:20AM to 12:00PM

Location:  Field Building (23rd Street), Room 714

Professor E. Kaufman

Email: Erica.Kaufman@baruch.cuny.edu

Office Hours: Tuesdays/Thursdays, 12:30PM to 2:00PM or by appointment

Office Location: VC 7-290K

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