February 14, 2015
I have been working on Reza Negarestani‘s Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (2008) and I ran across this fascinating introduction to Negarestani by Robin Mackay that I cannot help but share. The work below is tilted “A Brief History of Geotrauma, or: The Invention of Negarestani.”
December 31, 2014
I am looking forward to a fun, productive, and challenging spring semester at the University of Pittsburgh. I’ll be teaching three classes: two sections of Narrative and Technology (ENGLIT 0399; class blog here) and a course that is being offered for the first time, Interactive Literature (ENGLIT 1001; class blog here). I owe Mark Best considerable credit for Interactive Literature as I drew many ideas about organizing the course from the design of his initial proposal.
November 13, 2014
As part of the Digital Brown Bag Series, a series of talks on various ways one might incorporate digital tools into their teaching and scholarship, tomorrow, November 14, from 12:00 – 1:00, I am giving a presentation on “Immersive Pedagogy: Teaching Videogames In and Out of the Classroom” at the University of Pittsburgh in room 435 of the Cathedral of Learning. Here’s a brief description of what I will be addressing:
Teaching videogames present a number of pedagogical challenges and possibilities that are not involved with teaching more traditional media objects. Many things can go wrong when teaching videogames: they can (and do) frequently break down or are incompatible with certain machines; they are hardware dependent, thus limiting the games that can be included in a syllabus; they are actionable rather than passive—they need to be played—meaning that students with less familiarity or skill with videogames can struggle. But videogames also open up a number of pedagogical avenues that are unavailable to other media: they can be radically immersive, collective, and social, reconfiguring the classroom into a virtual space that can extend significantly beyond the physical boundaries of traditional instruction; they provide new ways of looking at and interacting with media objects in the classroom, promoting new pedagogical methods of critical engagement; and they are, inevitably, fun, inviting students to participate in what I call “critical play.” This presentation will discuss some of the logistical, critical, and theoretical challenges presented by teaching videogames, how these challenges might be addressed, and some exciting pedagogical possibilities that are opened up by bringing videogames into the classroom. The presentation will conclude with an interactive demonstration of how one particular videogame, The Stanley Parable (Galactic Café, 2013), might be taught. (This talk largely reflects my experiences teaching Narrative and Technology.)
August 31, 2014
Environment and Apocalypse
Hamilton Nolan, “Doom Draws Nearer.”
Daniel Cech, “How the Apocalypse Would Happen if Heaven Were a Small Nonprofit.”
Robert O. Self, “Cataclysm in Suburbia: The Dark, Twisted History of America’s Oil-Addicted Middle Class.”
Emma Hansen, “From Nuclear Bombs to Killer Robots: How Amoral Technologies Become Immoral Weapons.”
Annalee Newitz, “The First College in the US to Open without any Books in its Library.”
Bill Chappell, “Bookless Public Library Opens in Texas.”
Ben Jurney, “2014: A Facebook Odyssey.”
Robinson Meyer, “There Still Isn’t One Good Way to Represent the Internet in Art.”
Becky Sullivan, “For The First Time, Real Tattoos Make Their Madden Debut.”
Danielle Kurtzleben, “How Facebook is Clearing Clickbait from Your News Feed.”
The Eternal September of the No Laptop Policy.
And Adam Gopnik, “Does It Help to Know History?”
French Government Dissolved Over Economic Policy.
Nicki Lisa Cole, “The Ferguson Syllabus.”
Jelani Cobb, “Bullets and Ballots.”
Christian Parenti, “Reading Hamilton from the Left.”
Literature and Culture
Maggie Nelson review Ben Lerner’s 10:04 in “Slipping the Surly Bonds of Earth: On Ben Lerner’s Latest.”
Steven Shaviro reviews Peter Watts’s Echopraxia in “Ferociously Intellectual Pulp Writing.”
My friend Carolyn Kellogg reviews David Mitchell’s Bone Clocks.
Michiko Kakutani review David Mitchell’s Bone Clocks in “A Lifetime Watching the World Devolve.”
Sean J. Kelly, “Adventures in Reading the American Novel.”
Diana Clarke on Bill Morris’s Motor City Burning: “The Idea of Detroit.”
Maria Popova, “Maurice Sendak’s Rare, Sensual Illustrations for Herman Melville’s Greatest Commercial Failure and Most Personally Beloved Book.”
Michael Finkel, “The Strange and Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit.”
William S. Burroughs Sends Anti-Fan Letter to In Cold Blood Author Truman Capote: “You Have Sold Out Your Talent.”
Imaginaries of the Future: Historicizing the Present.
The death of the “gamer.”
Sage Ashford annotates Multiversity, no. 1.
And an eleven year old and his father recreate scenes from Infinite Jest in Legos.
Humanities and Higher Education
Understanding Your Academic Friend: Job Market Edition.
Corey Robin, “What Would Mary Beard Do? Bonnie Honig on How a Different Chancellor Might Respond to the Salaita Affair.”
Brock Read, “Who’s Getting the Tenure Track Jobs? It’s Time to Find Out.”
Mitch Daniels, former Governor of Indiana and current president of Purdue University, is teaching a class this fall. Steven Stofferahn asks, “What Value in Prof. Daniels’s Class at Purdue?” The same Mitch Daniels who just wanted to prevent kids from reading Howard Zinn.
Well now. Catherine Stukel, “Is That Whining Adjunct Someone We Want Teaching Our Young” and “Teaching Cadence.”
And Adam Heiderbrink-Bruno, “Syllabus as Manifesto: A Critical Approach to Classroom Culture.”
August 24, 2014
Tomorrow I return to the classroom at the University of Pittsburgh for another semester. As I imagine that this will also mean I’m about to be considerably busier, and that this will mean a bit less posting on the ole blog (links or otherwise), some links to mark the occasion.
Disaster and Environmental
Daniel Politi, “Napa Valley Earthquake Is the Strongest to Hit the Bay Area Since 1989.”
Douglas Williams, “Love Me, Ferguson, I’m a Liberal.”
Alexandra Schwartz, “On Being Seen: An Interview with Claudia Rankine from Ferguson.”
Matt Apuzo and Michael S. Schmidt, “In Washington, Second Thoughts on Arming the Police.”
Cornel West on Barack Obama.
Erick Eckholm, “US Court to Hear Case on Voting Restrictions as Arizona Prepares for Polls.”
Science and Technology
Rose Eveleth, “So What Exactly Is a ‘Killer Robot’?”
Literature and Culture
A review of Ben Lerner‘s new book, 10:04: Parul Sehgal, “Drawing Words from the Well of Art: Ben Lerner Imagines ‘Different Futures’ in his Novel, 10:04.”
Anthony Grafton reviews William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep in “The Enclosure of the American Mind.”
A review of David Mitchell’s new novel, The Bone Clocks: Alexandra Alter, “A Master of Many Universes.”
And I was waiting for this story to break (and it took longer than I thought). One of my favorite bands, Isis, who has been around since 1997, is finally getting some flack about the coincidence of their name’s similarity to ISIS, the group controlling many portions of Iraq right now.
Humanities and Higher Education
And for all my students this semester majoring in the humanities, show your parents this.
August 19, 2014
The running blog from Ferguson‘s latest: Ben Mathis-Lilley and Elliot Hannon, “Officer Who Stopped Michael Brown Did Not Know He Was a Robbery Suspect.”
Photos from Ferguson.
Robert Stephens II, “In Defense of the Ferguson Riots.”
An open letter from David Simon.
Rembert Browne, “The Front Lines of Ferguson.”
“This Time, For Once, What It Is, It Is.”
Daniel Politti, “After a Day of Calm, Ferguson Reignites: Looting, Clashes with Police and Tear Gas.”
Jack Mirkinson, “Police Threaten to Shoot, Mace Reporters in Ferguson.”
Dylan Scott, “Mayor Defends Police: I Can’t Second-Guess These Officers.”
Jamelle Bouie, “The Militarization of the Police.”
The militarization of US Police.
Sahil Kapur, “House Democrat Unveils Bill to Demilitarize Local Police.”
Rand Paul, “We Must Demilitarize the Police.”
“There’s a Police Coup Going on Right Now in Ferguson, MO.”
Matthew Yglesias, “Enough is Enough in Ferguson.”
Mychal Denzel Smith, “The Death of Michael Brown and the Search for Justice in Black America.”
LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, “Policing the Police.”
Joe Coscorelli, “Obama Treads Lightly, Again, on Ferguson: ‘Listen and Heal,’ Don’t ‘Holler and Shout.'”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race.”
And a must see: John Oliver on Ferguson.
Nuclear and Environment
Laura Bliss, “Atomic Tests Were a Tourist Draw in 1950s Las Vegas.”
Anya Litvak, “Pennsylvania Gas Production Hits Another Peak.”
Helene Cooper and Michael D. Shear, “Militants’ Siege on Mountain in Iraq is Over, Pentagon Says.”
Neil Johnson, “The High-Tech Arms Race That’s Causing Stock Market ‘Tsunamis.'”
Alan J. Lichtman, “Who Rules America?”
Caleb Garling, “Tricking Facebook’s Algorithm.”
Literature and Culture
Mike Miley is going through David Foster Wallace’s archive, reading all the notes Wallace wrote in books.
Grant Morrison’s Multiversity debuts tomorrow! I’ve been chomping at the bit for this one. And the “map” of the multiverse is gorgeous.
Daniel Coluccielo Barber reviews Lessons in Secular Criticism by Stathis Gourgouris at the LARB.
Nathaniel Rich, “The Mystery of Murakami.”
Rebecca Mead, “The Pleasure of Reading to Impress Yourself.”
Steve Almond, “John Oliver Won’t Be Your Therapist: How He Torpedoed the Reassuring Tropes of Fake News.”
Manohla Dargis reviews The Giver in “If You Want to Remember, You Have to Ask the Old Guy.”
Laura Miller, “Portrait of a Self-Published Author: Drac Van Stoller’s Invisible Literary Empire.”
Zach Friedman, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
More on Robin Williams. Chris Gethard, “The Art of the Obituary.” Alex Pappademas, “Knight Takes King: Remembering Robin Williams, 1951-2014.” Andrew SoClomon, “Suicide, a Crime of Loneliness.” Anthony Lane, “Postscript: Robin Williams, 1951-2014.”
And Gabino Iglesias has an interview with my friend David James Keaton.
Humanities and Higher Education
Ian Bogost, “Academic Paydom: Tactical Lessons from the Steven Salaita Situation.”
Paul Bové, “Steven Salaita–My Letter to the Chancellor.”
An open letter from untenured faculty to Chancellor Wise of UIUC.
Getting some push back: Nicholas Kristof, “Don’t Dismiss the Humanities.”
Colleen Flaherty, “Pulling Rank: Is Northeastern Denying Professors Tenure to Improve Its National Rankings?”
William Deresiewicz, “Spirit Guides,” on the things that teachers can provide that parents can’t.
Robert J. McKee, “The Age(ism) of Diversity.”