English Courses Taught at the University of New Hampshire

 

Below are English courses I've taught (or am now teaching) at the University of New Hampshire. Enrollment is open to both Durham and Manchester students; all class sessions are held in Manchester. If you have any questions regarding these or future offerings at the Pandora Building, please contact me at Seth.Abramson[@]unh.edu. Courses offered in earlier semesters are listed below current course offerings. Future classes include: Metamodernism in Popular Culture; Fundamentals of the Law; Experimental Poetics; Legal Writing; Remixing; and Multigenre Workshop.

English 787: Culture & Theory in the Digital Age

Spring 2017, Thursdays 1PM to 3:50PM, 1/26 through 5/11

The popularization of the internet has had a profound effect on both American culture and critical theory. Scholars and casual observers of digital culture alike now debate whether the internet has introduced a new cultural philosophy to our endeavors—a system of logic and “structure of feeling” that helps us make a different kind of sense of both ourselves and our communities. From the meme culture of our social media networks to the “internet of things,” from online trolling to videogame modding, from virtual- and mixed-reality platforms to writing practices hailed as “the New Sincerity,” the digital age has dramatically remade our mental map of how communities intersect with individuals and how individuals orient themselves within their communities. In this course we will consider some of the most significant “post-postmodernisms” pegged to the era of the internet, including metamodernism, hypermodernism, digimodernism, posthumanism, and trans-postmodernism. Using examples taken directly from our daily online encounters, we will analyze how these critical theories seek to better describe and contextualize online writing, reading, and socialization.

English 694: Poetry & Performance

Spring 2017, Thursdays 9AM to 11:50AM, 1/26 through 5/11

All poetry is performative, and certain performances in non-poetry genres—including stand-up comedy, political speech-making, and cinematic acting—can be considered “poetic” in character, but at this moment in American history it is important for us to ask whether and how any such performances are impactful in real time. Last century, the gulf between stage monologues and poetry written for the printed page widened considerably; in just the past few years, however, we have seen a sea change: “slam” poetry and spoken-word performance are becoming more linguistically intricate, while so-called “academic” creative writing is now more dramatic and explosively expressive, both on and off the page, than ever before. In this course, students will create original works of poetry and poetic prose, workshop the writing of their peers, and learn the practices of impactful oral performance across genres. No prior experience with live performance or creative writing is required. Course readings and viewings will focus on, among other topics, multimedia poetry; poetic writing for page, stage, and screen; and a bevy of popular performers who have found a way—some through dynamic live performances, some through social media, some through viral videos—to influence their culture. Authors to be studied include Douglas Kearney, Keston Sutherland, John Murillo, Patricia Smith, Sarah Kay, Steve Roggenbuck, Warsan Shire, and Abe Smith; performers to be studied include Bo Burnham, Hans Teeuwen, Reggie Watts, Mitch Hedberg, Eddie Murphy, Charlie Chaplin, Richard Pryor, Steven Wright, and Bill Hicks.

English 693: Graphic Novels

Fall 2016, Thursdays 6PM to 9PM, 9/1 through 12/15

This course explores the theory, craft, and cultural significance of graphic storytelling and visual narrative. In considering a number of graphic novels published in the last thirty years, we will make use of contemporary critical perspectives, including visual literacy studies, metamodernism, and intersectionality. Our aim is to come to a better understanding of how and why the graphic novel has become one of the most popular, problematic, and generative literary forms in American literature. Our study of a number of primary texts will teach us about the ongoing relationship between sequential art and geopolitical, sociocultural, and psychosocial critique. Course texts will include a wide variety of graphic novels, from narratives of superheroism (Watchmen, Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, Deadpool, and Midnighter) to autobiographical and fictional graphic memoirs (Fun Home, Maus, and Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth); from post-apocalyptic epics (Saga, Low, and Descender) to several works that defy description (Achewood, The Abominable Charles Christopher, and Here). We will also read prose by Tim Leong, Will Eisner, Scott McCloud, and others to better appreciate the theoretical as well as formal and stylistic dimensions of the contemporary graphic novel. This course meets the post-1800 requirement for the English major.

English 595: Writing Popular Fiction

Fall 2016, Thursdays 1PM to 3:50PM, 9/1/16 through 12/15/16

This workshop will inspire students interested in popular fiction to consider writing as a process and to experiment with new approaches to their craft. Our fundamental assumption will be that popular fiction, which includes such subgenres as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, and Romance, requires of its authors the same skill and intellectual rigor as does the "literary fiction" that is more commonly the focus of writing workshops. Students will also be encouraged to explore trends in fiction-writing that have achieved prominence in just the last few decades, including Metafiction, Fan Fiction, Antinovels, Magical Realism, Conceptual Fiction, Slipstream, Metamodernism, Alternate History, and The New Weird. Through wide-ranging discussions of students' own novel excerpts, readings in a number of popular fiction subgenres, and an extensive review of the craft and form of fiction, class members will develop a greater appreciation for popular fiction and an improved ability to write compellingly within their chosen genre(s). This course is ideal for students with an interest in the writing and reading of fiction, who are not afraid to challenge their longstanding assumptions about creative writing, and who hope to develop a regular creative writing practice.

English 787: Experimental Narrative

Spring 2016, Wednesdays 6PM to 9PM, 1/27/16 through 5/11/16

This capstone Senior Seminar explores the theories, methods, and ambitions behind contemporary experimental narratives. While our main focus is innovative storytelling in the postwar period, we will pay special attention to how digital authorship has complicated our understanding of narrative. Across several media, we will study the many modes of narrative composition used by both domestic and international experimental writers: for instance, collaborative, multi-genre, interactive, immersive, transmedia, multimedia, cross-genre, appropriative, and metamodern. A partial list of the authors we will consider in print, at times in excerpt, includes: William Burroughs, Julio Cortázar, Thomas Pynchon, Italo Calvino, Gabriel García Márquez, Robert Coover, Clarice Lispector, Cormac McCarthy, Lydia Davis, Salman Rushdie, Haruki Murakami, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Mark Z. Danielewski, Roberto Bolaño, Karl Ove Knausgård, Jonathan Safran Foer, Richard McGuire, and Eimear McBride.

English 534: Journalism in the 21st Century

Spring 2016, Thursdays 1PM to 3:50PM, 1/28/16 through 5/12/16

This class explores the many ways that new computer-mediated tools, such as social media, have affected the practice of journalism. Students discuss libel law, ethics, and how to define plagiarism in the digital age. This survey is meant not only to provide a foundation for prospective journalists, but also to offer a broader understanding of the news media for those interested in how the news works.

English 694: Creative Writing in the Digital Age

Fall 2015, Thursdays 1PM to 3:50PM, 9/3/15 through 12/17/15

This writing-intensive workshop will teach the basic principles of cross-genre and tech- savvy creative writing, while allowing for the regular class discussion of students' own creative work. Our analyses of contemporary creative writing will focus on how such writing intersects with and exploits common features of the Digital Age, from social media and viral content to wearable tech and new multimedia apps. You can expect to regularly write both in and across a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, writing for television, and multimedia writing. Absolutely no prior experience writing in these genres is required, only a willingness to thoughtfully engage course texts and be audaciously inventive in your own work.

English 750: The American Avant-Garde

Fall 2015, Thursdays 6PM to 9PM, 9/3/15 through 12/17/15

This course surveys a diverse array of novels, short stories, poetry collections, and digital content published in America between 1955 and 2015, with an emphasis on works that energetically challenge cultural conventions. Assignments include brief close-reading, op-ed, and style-imitative essays, as well as a longer research-based essay. Students will typically complete 1-2 in-class or take-home writing prompts per week. Content to be considered includes the fiction of David Foster Wallace, Lydia Davis, Mark Z. Danielewski, and Kelly Link; the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, Anne Carson, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Steve Roggenbuck; and new media writing, such as Clickhole, NewHive, Rick and Morty, and Weird Twitter.

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