The first essay from my new project on unreadably large texts, “Toward a Theory of the Megatext: Speculative Criticism and Richard Grossman’s ‘Breeze Avenue Working Paper,'” has been published in Scale in Literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), edited by Michael Tavel Clarke and David Wittenberg. The book includes essays by Bruno Latour and Mark McGurl. You can find the entire collection here through Springer Link if you have institutional access, or individual essays via the links below. The book is also available on Amazon. I’m happy to send along a copy of my essay to anyone who is interested (festb[at]hartwick[dot]edu).
Table of Contents for Scale in Literature and Culture
Michael Tavel Clarke and David Wittenberg, Introduction.
Scale: History and Conception
Zach Horton, “Composing a Cosmic View: Three Alternatives for Thinking Scale in the Anthropocene.”
Derek Woods, “Epistemic Things in Charles and Ray Eames’s Powers of Ten.“
Bruno Latour, “Anti-Zoom.”
Scale in Culture
Mark McGurl, “Making It Big: Picturing the Radio Age in King Kong.“
Joan Lubin, “The Stature of Man: Population Bomb on Spaceship Earth.”
Aikaterini Antonopoulou, “Large-Scale Fakes: Living in Architectural Reproductions.”
Scale in Literature
Melody Jue, “From the Goddess Ganga to a Teacup: On Amitav Ghosh’s Novel The Hungry Tide.“
Oded Nir, “World Literature as a Problem of Scale.”
Bradley J. Fest, “Toward a Theory of the Megatext: Speculative Criticism and Richard Grossman’s ‘Breeze Avenue Working Paper.'”
Jeffrey Severs, “Cutting Consciousness Down to Size: David Foster Wallace, Exformation, and the Scale of Encyclopedic Fiction.”
It’s been a fun, eventful, interesting, and, of course, busy first semester at Hartwick College. Everything else, however, is quite dark. Some links.
Nuclear and Environmental
US Global Change Research Program, “Climate Science Special Report.”
Tim Collins, “The Chance of ‘Catastrophic’ Climate Change Completely Wiping Out Humanity by 2100 Is Now 1-in-20.”
Damian Carrington, “Warning of ‘Ecological Armageddon’ after Dramatic Plunge in Insect Numbers.”
Ariel Norfman, “Nuclear Apocalypse Now?”
Elizabeth Kolbert, “Going Negative: Can Carbon-Dioxide Removal Save the World?”
Mike Davis, “Nuclear Imperialism and Extended Deterrence.”
Neena Satija, Kiah Collier, Al Shaw, and Jeff Larson, “Hell or High Water.”
Democracy Now, “As Catastrophic Flooding Hits Houston, Fears Grow of Pollution from Oil Refineries & Superfund Sites.”
Continue reading →
It’s been a long year, long for many reasons, but here’s a backlog of some links. (Some very good news is imminent. . . .)
Nuclear and Environmental
New York Times Editorial Board, “The Finger on the Nuclear Button.”
Rebecca Savranksy, “US May Launch Strike if North Korea Moves to Test Nuclear Weapon.”
Kaveh Waddell, “What Happens if a Nuclear Bomb Goes Off in Manhattan.”
Laurel Wamsley, “Digitization Unearths New Data From Cold War-Era Nuclear Test Films.”
Michael Biesecker and John Flesher, “President Trump Institutes Media Blackout at EPA.”
Brian Kahn, “The EPA Has Started to Remove Obama-Era Information.”
Zoë Schlanger, “Hackers Downloaded US Government Climate Data and Stored It on European Servers as Trump Was Being Inaugurated.”
Cass R. Sunstein, “Making Sense of Trump’s Order on Climate Change.”
Laurie Penny, “The Slow Confiscation of Everything.”
Continue reading →
I am pleased to announce that another essay on videogames, “Metaproceduralism: The Stanley Parable and the Legacies of Postmodern Metafiction,” just appeared in Wide Screen. The essay is part of a special issue on videogame adaptation, edited by Kevin M. Flanagan, and includes articles by Jedd Hakimi, Cameron Kunzelman, Kyle Meikle, Bobby Schweizer, and Kalervo Sinervo. It’s also open access, so anyone can read it.
Abstract: Most critics of contemporary literature have reached a consensus that what was once called “postmodernism” is over and that its signature modes—metafiction and irony—are on the wane. This is not the case, however, with videogames. In recent years, a number of self-reflexive games have appeared, exemplified by Davey Wreden’s The Stanley Parable(2013), an ironic game about games. When self-awareness migrates form print to screen, however, something happens. If metafiction can be characterized by how it draws attention to its materiality—the artificiality of language and the construction involved in acts of representation—The Stanley Parable draws attention to the digital, procedural materiality of videogames. Following the work of Alexander R. Galloway and Ian Bogost, I argue that the self-reflexivity of The Stanley Parable is best understood in terms of action and procedure, as metaproceduralism. This essay explores the legacies of United States metafiction in videogames, suggesting that though postmodernism might be over, its lessons are important to remember for confronting the complex digital realities of the twenty-first century. If irony may be ebbing in fiction, it has found a vital and necessary home in videogames and we underestimate its power to challenge the informatic, algorithmic logic of cultural production in the digital age to our detriment.
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).