In an essay that engages with Tolentino and Odell, and perhaps the Hidden Brain podcast, develop a project in which
you select one or two points, issues, or topics that the texts raise, and further, explore, extend, and even test them in a new context using at least one additional secondary resource. Your exploration should lead you to develop your own purpose for writing and to put forward an original argument that is inquiry and evidence-driven.
I will be looking for you to draw deeply from Tolentino and Odell, to fairly represent their arguments and important critical vocabulary. Given that our readings take up a critique of the internet and its various platforms and ask us to
“protect our spaces and our time for non-instrumental, noncommercial activity and thought, for maintenance, for care,
for conviviality” (Odell 28), it will be important that you take some time to consider how your selected site might be
read from the point of view of Tolentino and Odell. This is the intellectual move of “trying on” and experimenting with
the conceptual frameworks offered by our readings, to see what new knowledge you can contribute to our course
To do this work, your project should offer a tangible site. What exactly is a site? Sites can be examples, test cases,
demonstrations, places, events, collections of photographs (or screenshots), artifacts, anomalies, a personal
experience, etc. Here are some brief examples of what I mean by site:
- A collection of ads that illustrate Odell’s conception of the “attention economy.”
- An experience or activity (either your own or observed elsewhere) as a new model of what Odell might call “self care.”
- A scene in a favorite Netflix series or a film that illustrates “the practice doing nothing” as Odell might see it.
- An exchange on Twitter or some other social media space demonstrates Tolentino’s “five intersecting problems” about the internet.
- A series of screenshots of social media posts that explore how the internet “maximizes our sense of opposition.”
The idea, here, is to have something that you want to say about the ideas being presented by Odell and Tolentino. You may also choose to frame your project around a question or problem:
- What would happen if I examined a personal experience on social media as a demonstration of Tolentino’s argument that the “internet is built to distend our sense of identity”?
- What would happen if I explored a series of examples of “doing nothing” that could challenge the “effects of racial, environmental, and economic injustice and bring about real change”?
Posing questions, even just in your generative writing, can be a powerful way to get going on a project. But the goal of posing a question is to try and match a concept with an outside example so that you are moving a conversation forward and mapping your work in a new direction. Remember that you want to set up an argument, lead readers through that argument, and then articulate why all of this matters.
3 sources total, 2 from the reading and one from an outside source of your choice to help with your argument
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