Critical Game Studies Syllabus

June 10, 2016

With the aid of a Course Development Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Studies, this past year I had the chance to develop a new course at the University of Pittsburgh, ENGLIT 1002 Critical Game Studies. As I may not likely get to teach this course anytime soon, I thought I would share the syllabus.

The course’s reading includes Tom Bissel’s Extra Lives (2010), Alexander R. Galloway’s Gaming (2006), Jesper Juul’s The Art of Failure (2013), McKenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory (2007), and many interesting critical essays on play, narratology v. ludology, gender, empire, countergaming, and other related concerns. The majority of games on the syllabus are quite recent, and indie games in particular dominate, including (but not limited to): Between (2008), Braid (2008), Depression Quest (2013), Goat Simulator (2014), Papers, Please (2014), Sunset (2015), and The Stanley Parable (2013).


Spring Semester 2016

January 5, 2016

I’m eager to begin another semester at the University of Pittsburgh. This spring I am teaching three classes: Seminar in Composition (ENGCMP 0200), Reading Poetry (ENGLIT 0315), and Introduction to Critical Reading (ENGLIT 0500). I have taught all three courses before and enjoy each one. Seminar in Composition is a newly redesigned course on the campus novel and the syllabus can be found on my Academia.edu page. I’d be happy to send along the syllabi for the other classes to interested parties, which tweak previous versions. (Among other texts, I’m eager to return to Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves [2000] in Introduction to Critical Reading, and quite excited to read Claudia Rankine’s Citizen [2014] in Reading Poetry). I have again decided not to do any class blogs this semester. For the blogs of previous classes, see the category “Teaching” to the right.


Fall Semester 2015

August 27, 2015

I’m eager to begin a new semester at the University of Pittsburgh. This fall I am teaching a number of classes: Narrative and Technology (ENGLIT 0399), Introduction to Critical Reading (ENGLIT 0500), and Postmodern Literature (ENGLIT 1350). I have taught all three courses before and enjoy each one. The syllabus for Introduction to Critical Reading can be found on my Academia.edu page and I’d be happy to send along the others to interested parties, which tweak previous versions. I have decided not to do any blogs for any of my classes this semester, partially as an experiment, but also because I am trying to limit how much time I spend in front of a screen. For the blogs of previous classes, see the category “Teaching” to the right.


Many April Links: Catching Up

April 10, 2015

Another semester is coming to a close, and I finally have a chance to sit down and sort through the backlog of links that have been piling up over the past few months. So, with no further ado, links.

 

Nuclear, Environment, Ruins

Thomas Erdbrink, “Iran’s Leaders Fall Into Line Behind Nuclear Accord.”

William J. Broad, “Hydrogen Bomb Physicist’s Book Runs Afoul of Energy Department.”

John R. Bolton, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Um, no.

Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith, “South African Nuclear Cache Unnerves US.”

“South Africa Rebuffs US Attempts to Take Over Its Nuclear Material.”

Jon Greenberg, “The Odd Reality of Iran’s Centrifuges: Enough for a Bomb, Not Power.”

Charlie Jane Anders, “Nanotech Could Make Nuclear Bombs Much, Much Tinier.”

Andreas Malm, “The Anthropocene Myth.”

99% Invisible, “Ten Thousand Years.”

Emma Haslett, “Raycats and Earworms: How Scientists Are Using Colour-changing Cats and Nursery Rhymes to Warn Future Generations of Nuclear Danger.”

Jonathan Waldman, “The Rustiest Place in America.”

Jonathan Franzen, “Carbon Capture.”

Michael Schaub, “Jonathan Franzen ‘Miserably Conflicted’ About Climate Change.'”

Book trailer for Liam Sprod‘s Nuclear Futurism; The Work of Art in the Age of Remainderless Destruction (Winchester, UK: Zero, 2012).

 

National Security State and US Politics

Andrea Germanos, “Noam Chomsky: Edward Snowden a True Patriot Who Should be Honored.”

John Oliver on surveillance.

Amy Chozick and Maggie Haberman, “Hillary Clinton to Announce 2016 Run for President on Saturday.”

 

Economics

Vitalik Buterin with Sam Frank, “Decentralized Autonomous Society.”

Christina Pazzanese, “Explaining Capital.”

 

Hyperarchival

Julie Edgar, “A Rich Library of African-American Poetry Goes Digital.”

 

Literature and Culture

Mark Sussman, “Smarter.”

Adam Kotsko, “On the Perfunctoriness of House of Cards.”

Cory Doctorow, “How Heinlein Went From Socialist to Right-Wing Libertarian.”

Alexander R. Galloway, “Something About the Digital.”

Tom McCarthy, “The Death of Writing: If James Joyce Were Alive Today He’d Be Working for Google.”

Natalie Shapero, “Cold Comfort,” review of Lines the Quarry, by Robin ClarkeVestigial, by Page Hill Starzinger, and Go Find Your Father / A Famous Blues, by Harmony Holiday.

Jonathan Gatehouse, “America Dumbs Down.”

Lauren Oyler, “The Weird, Sexy, Touching Emails of Writer Kathy Acker.”

Charlie Jane Anders, “First Gorgeous Look at Mark Z. Danielewski’s New Series, The Familiar!”

Richard Hill, “The Internet vs. Democracy,” review of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, by Robert W. McChesney.

Peter McDonald and Patrick Jagoda, The Portal | The Sandbox.

Sam Kriss, Game of Thrones and Marxist Theory.”

Leigh Gallagher, “The Suburbs Are Dead–And That’s Not a Good Thing.”

Mark Bittman, “Why Not Utopia?”

Javier O’Neil-Ortiz, “Inferiority Complex: On Black Mirror.”

Lawrence Berger, “Being There: Heidegger on Why Presence Matters.”

Ian Bogost, “Videogames Are Better Without Characters.”

Chay Close, “All Videogames Are a Joke.”

Spencer Robbins, “Wittgenstein, Schoolteacher.”

Jessica Saia and Sierra Hartman, “What Our Office Learned Working Naked for One Month.”

Kevin M. Kruse, “A Christian Nation? Since When?”

Black Metal Theory.

David Itzkoff, “Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.”

Footnotes (podcast on comic book series).

Snap Judgment, “The NeverEnding Story.”

Michael Idov, “The Movie Set That Ate Itself.” (An oldie, but goodie on Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s ambitious failure of a filmic megatext.)

The Brontosaurus is back.

Daniel Krupa, “The Emotional Storytelling of Everybody’s Gone to Rapture.”

“What if Wes Anderson Directed X-Men?”

“Marx Madness.”

Jason Schreier, “You Can Play Pac-Man on Google Maps Right Now.”

Jon Stewart knees a professional wrestler in the junk.

And the cast of Twin Peaks begs David Lynch to come back:

 

Humanities and Higher Education

Janet Napolitano, “Higher Education Isn’t in Crisis.”

Terry Eagleton, “The Slow Death of the University.”

Colleen Flaherty and Kaitlin Mulhere, “Day of Protest.”

Carmen Maria Machado, “O Adjunct! My Adjunct!”

Fareed Zakaria, “Why America’s Obsession with STEM Education Is Dangerous.”

Stephanie Saul, “NYU Professor Is Barred by United Arab Emirates.”

Laura McKenna, “The Unfortunate Fate of Sweet Briar’s Professors.”

Leonard Cassuto, “The Problem of Professionalization.”

Plugs, Play, Pedagogy, “Teaching with the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives.”


Robin Mackay’s “A Brief History of Geotrauma”

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.”


Spring Semester 2015

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.


Immersive Pedagogy: Teaching Videogames In and Out of the Classroom

November 13, 2014

digitalbrownbag

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.)


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