Conspiracy Theories Take Academic Holiday, or do they?

, Malcolm A. Kline, 4 Comments

When not amassing tens of thousands of twitter followers with anti-Trump memes that stop short of conspiracies (because he uses the word “may”), Seth Abrahamson teaches at the University of New Hampshire.

“Back in the classroom, the three students in Abramson’s upper-level course, ‘Digital Age Culture & Theory,’ stare at the 10-foot-long whiteboard, which the professor has filled end-to-end with a dizzying tide of words and arrows,” Steve Kolowich reports in The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Lines bloom out from ‘modernism’ (‘enthusiasm,’ ‘wealthy white male self-realization,’ ‘belief in the transformative power of technology’) and eventually reconverge on ‘postmodernism’ (‘deconstruction,’ ‘dialectics,’ ‘end of history,’ ‘despair,’ ‘crisis,’ ‘info saturation’) before blooming out again toward a constellation of terms related to metamodernism (‘performatism,’ ‘new sincerity’). “

“Beyond that, more words: ‘metaxis vs. balance,’ ‘utopia (no place),’ ‘both/neither vs. both/and,’ ‘oscillation vs. juxtaposition/superimposition.’ Nearby sits a blot where he has written the numbers 1 through 6 on top of one another.”

“A pair of three-dimensional graphs, labeled ‘blackMuslimwoman’ and ‘whiteJewishmale,’are circumscribed by a lasso-like border and surrounded by numbered phrases: (1) Points of connection, (2) Know that you don’t know, (3) Live as if you can inhabit both maps simultaneously, (4) Remixing, curation, appropriation, (5) Create a new (fictional/imaginative) proxy that all can empathize with.”

“His students betray no skepticism as they dutifully copy the diagram into their notebooks.”