“Wasting time on the Internet” course offered at Pennsylvania

November 1, 2014

While many students feel guilty for spending more time reading listicles, watching cat videos and exploring Facebook than studying, a new degree-level course on offer at an elite US university requires its students to procrastinate. From next semester, the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania — a prestigious Ivy League college — will offer students the chance to study a course entitled 'Wasting Time on the Internet'. Participants will be asked to "stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting through chat rooms, bots, social media and listservs." "We spend our lives in front of screens, mostly wasting time: checking social media, watching cat videos, chatting, and shopping," the course description declares before asking students to consider whether such mediums could be used to create great works of literature. But students who brave the course at the world-ranking university won't escape academic rigour and will also be required to "explore the long history of boredom and time-wasting" by reading works by writers, theorists and creatives including Betty Friedan, Raymond Williams and John Cage. The left-field module will be taught by Professor Kenneth Goldsmith, who leads other similarly unconventional courses including 'Uncreative Writing', which explores plagiarism and piracy, and 'Interventionist Writing: Writing Off the Page' which bans students from using paper.

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