Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Summer Reading (ENGL 105: English & American Fiction)

A list of what we'll be reading in my English and American Fiction course this summer: Books for ENGL 105, Summer 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Connected Composers: Making Music and Money Online

Clive Tompson's "Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog" describes how blogs are changing the dynamic between musicians and their listeners. Blogs provide musicians a way to find an audience for their tunes, but fans are coming to expect more from them. Fans don't simply want music to be readily available for downloading; they want the musicians to be available for chit chat; they want the musicians to be their "friends."

Audience-artist interactivity is an interesting phenomenon, but I wonder whether the model is sustainable. Artists are often reclusive for a good reason: creation takes time and requires a level of attention that isn't possible when one must constantly check her e-mail or update her blog.

I've learned this lesson the hard way, through experience.

Questions this article raised for me: Are the Internet and e-networks making audience interaction necessary for artists and musicians who want to support themselves financially through their art? Will artists have the time both to communicate with the audience and to create quality compositions? To what extent will economic considerations - both financial and libidinal - shape the form of these compositions?

I know that my professional commitments - reading, writing, teaching, etc. - prevent me from blogging as much as I would like. Right now academia, at least the institution and the department in which I work, does not really provide the infrastructural resources to integrate blogging into the curriculum. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

While I love the convenience of networked discourse, electronic communication technologies can lead to hurried thoughts. Too often the aim is simply to hit send and make a connection. More time and thought must be given to the act of composition, to the creation of a message worth communicating.

As a teacher of literature, I devote much energy to making students more mindful readers: they need to be trained to slow down and pay attention to the workings of language, both their own and others's. I've found that electronic communications can distract students, who are no accustomed to being pereceptive observers of texts, or, for that matter, the world in which they live.