Summer Teaching Dispatch: Justin Berner and New Media Reading and Composition

30 Aug, 2018

Summer Teaching Dispatch: Justin Berner and New Media Reading and Composition

Justin Berner, a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish and Portuguese, was selected to teach “What is an @uthor?” as a NWMEDIA R1B this past summer. Below, he describes the experience:

Teaching a summer course in new media allowed me the freedom to create a syllabus that, while rooted in my personal academic background, reflected the interdisciplinary nature of new media itself. Likewise, it offered the opportunity to engage with a group of students with a diverse mix of academic pursuits. [Their] varying backgrounds and intellectual interests provided a variety of interesting, refreshing perspectives on the texts and ideas I have been studying for years. Professionally, the amount of autonomy offered for creating the syllabus and managing the course was extremely beneficial in my personal growth as an instructor, while the opportunity to teach a course outside of my home department was similarly helpful in expanding my teaching portfolio.

We wish we could have taken the class ourselves! From the course description:

If a robot wrote a poem, could it break your heart? If a text has no beginning and no end, who decides how it should be read? If a blog is written by a fictional persona, who do we define as the author? Using a combination of print and electronic literature, this course will explore the preceding questions as part of a more general investigation on what it means to be an author in the 21 st Century. Throughout the seminar, while challenging traditional and preconceived notions regarding what it means to be “an author,” students will use the literary and theoretical works as a means of understanding how to become a more effective writer. Students will first gain a theoretical understanding of what is meant by authorship in western literature before complicating this idea with examples from both print and electronic literature. Starting out with printed works from the origins of authorship in the western tradition, students will then engage with various types of works that have questioned this concept, such as translation, parafiction, and testimonial. Working with electronic literature and new media theory, students will then explore the idea of authorship through bots, blogs, and other forms of digital literary production.