Students attending liberal art colleges today study, among other things, the classics. The great works of literature, art, poetry, science and the theater. While that will probably still be the case for those pursuing a liberal arts education one hundred years from now, the canon itself will undoubtedly have expanded.
But what from today will still be taught in liberal arts college courses in the year 2114?
Who Will Make the Cut?
Previously, to enter the pantheon of greats, or even be taught or remembered at all, authors had to be published and distributed wide enough for someone with the ability to preserve their work to notice it. And that was in addition to being talented and original.
These days, anyone can self-publish online and have worldwide distribution. That doesn’t mean anyone will read the work, but if the right people do and spread the word, who knows? Your blog could end up on the curriculum of a future humanities course!
If this is true, then social media may end up becoming a gateway to literary greatness.
The Permanence of (Some) Social Media
If you are of the belief that internet content is written on the wind and can, in no way, be lasting - try deleting your Facebook profile and re-activating it a few months later. The same friends and all the content will still be there. Sure, you can delete individual posts, but there’s still a record of them somewhere on a server and as long as Facebook is still around, your writing and images will be too.
Even if Facebook, or whatever platform you use, finds itself in the dustbin of history, it doesn’t mean your deleted posts or the ones you kept will be lost. They can be copied and quoted, even turned into memes countless times. If they’re good, they can and most likely will be remembered. But will the higher education institutions of the future consider this content teachable, considering its source?
The Poetry of Twitter
There is a new trend in poetry: the Micropoem or Twihaiku. This form of poetry has its own stylistic rules, namely the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter. If you use exactly 140 characters in your poem, it’s called a Twoosh.
Established poets are jumping on the Twihaiku bandwagon. Elizabeth Alexander who read poetry for President Obama at his inauguration, has started tweeting original poems like this one:
Like muddy spring/the earth is soaked/with so much sorrow/Sorrow, sorrow/revealing and hiding/its many storied faces.— Elizabeth Alexander (@ProfessorEA) March 17, 2012
British poet Alison Brackenbury already knows of a reader who became interested in her work and started buying her books after reading a tweeted poem. She enjoys tweeting poems, telling The Independent that “writing in 140 characters has taught me to slash sentences; it offers a public home for private passions, such as bicycles and bumblebees.”
While this is now an established form of poetry with growing legitimacy, the question remains: will Micropoetry be given the same weight as other forms of poetry in our future classrooms?
What texts do you think will be included in a Liberal Arts education 100 years from now? Let us know in the comments.