The status of reading and literature in contemporary times

Assignment 1

Writing for the Public: Literature in Modern Times

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As a point of departure for this assignment, watch the Twilight Zone episode “The Obsolete Man” , and reflect on what this episode tries to say about a world where books are obsolete. How, if at all, is this dystopic vision relevant to the status of literature and reading in the contemporary world? You may use “The Obsolete Man” as anecdotally or as substantively as you see fit in your essay.

Write a short op-ed piece suitable for publication on the cultural section of a popular website. The topic at hand is the status of reading and literature in contemporary times. You may engage with the topic from any angle. You are not obligated to argue “in favor” or “against” reading literature. Questions you may discuss include (but are not limited to): Do people really read less these days or do they do other kinds of reading? How do changes in reading practice affect culture and society? Should people be reading more literature? Why or why not? Is a reading world a better world? What are the alternative to reading literature in contemporary times? What is the difference between reading literature and other kind of cultural consumption of narratives, such as watching a television series? What is the relation between literature capitalism and the work-world, and issues of class, race and gender? What is the relation between literature and technology? What is the status of literature in the education system? What would a world without literature look like? Do you think such a world is coming?

The goal of this assignment is to produce a short, concise and polished piece, which provides original and interesting insights on the question of reading in contemporary times. The piece should be written in a manner that would be attractive and engaging for a wide audiences. You should also take into account that the piece is to be published online, where there is a lot of competition on who gets to be read, so you should aspire to write in a way that will intrigue the reader and attract her to read further. Don’t forget to give your piece an attractive title, one tthat people would want to click on.

Suggested length: 3 pages, double space, or 750 words

You will submit the first draft through our discussion forum as a public piece of writing. You will work in pairs/small groups and respond to each others’ work. More instructions on the peer-review process will follow.Don’t submit this version on the assignments section.

References:

Since this is supposed to be a piece of public writing to published digitally, do not use academic citations. However, you are encouraged to use hyperlinks to refer the readers to relevant content.

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