American Literature and Business Culture: The English Major After College
This course uses fictional and non-fiction texts to analyze the business world and the various roles that can be played by an English major in it. We will learn a bit about contemporary capitalism and how it is affecting the “creative industries” to which many English majors are drawn after graduation: publishing, editing, teaching, music, film, creative non-fiction, web design, fan fiction, graphic novel writing, new media content creation, advertising, podcasting, and entertainment journalism. We will be looking at three related issues: (1) what is literary knowledge of the kind English majors acquire in college? (2) What role can this knowledge play in the world of “platform capitalism”?
(3) How do you, as an English major, make sure that (1) can have an impact on (2)? Collisions between culture and capitalism will be individualized and personalized: each member of the course will identify a possible career path, inventory what you know and what you can do, and use some of the quarter to start bridging gaps to help you move from where you are to where you would like to be a few years from now. Readings will discuss recent changes in music and related industries (Egan and Timberg), contemporary American business (Srnieck with help from Marx and Harvey), and how creative nonfiction can combine economic analysis with narratives about people and culture (Quinones on the opioid epidemic). Be prepared to identify your main area of interest and to do your own research on how it really works.
Egan, Jennifer, A Visit from the Goon Squad (Anchor, 2011) 0307477477
Quinones, Sam, Dreamland 1620402521
Timberg, Scott, Culture Crash 0300216939
Graham, Jorie, Fast. 0062663488
Srnieck, Nick, Platform Capitalism. 1509504869
Start with Egan for week 1.