Critical Game Studies Syllabus

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).

Ferguson and Other Links

Ferguson

The running blog from Fergusons 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.

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“Literally” Two-Thousand Fourteen Links

Nuclear and Environment

US War Department’s Archival Footage of the Bombing of Hiroshima.

 

H. Bruce Franklin, “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, American Militarism,” a review of Paul Ham‘s Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath.

Mark Strauss, “Federal Employee Gets Fired After Writing an Article Criticizing Nukes.”

Lindsay Abrams, “Researchers: Warming Responsible for Siberia’s Mysterious Hole.”

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Link Dump: Nuclear, Archival, and Other

My apologies, it’s been a busy few weeks and I haven’t had time to add anything new. So here’s couple things I’ve stumbled across recently.

In nuclear news, Craig Whitlock reports for The Washington Post that “the Air Force on Friday fired the general in charge of all land-based nuclear missiles, the second time in a week that a senior commander of the country’s nuclear arsenal has been let go for allegations of personal misconduct.” (I wonder if his misconduct had anything to do with precious bodily fluids.)

Three things from Fukushima: Mari Yamaguchi asks, “Japan’s Water Leaks: How Dangerous?” for the AP. The Sleuth Journal reports that “Radioactive Water From Fukushima Is Systematically Poisoning the Entire Pacific Ocean.”

radioactive-water

And if that weren’t bad enough, Andrew Breiner for Think Progress writes how a “Once-A-Decade Typhoon Threatens Already Leaking Fukushima Nuclear Plant.”

And though I think I’ve reported on this/posted a picture of this before, Flickr has an arresting series of images of archival decay from the abandoned Mark Twain Branch Library in Detroit.

SONY DSC

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Fall 2013

Here are .pdfs of syllabi for classes I will be teaching this fall at the University of Pittsburgh:

Reading Poetry (ENGLIT 0315)–“American Poeisis: Imagining the Twentieth Century”

Introduction to Critical Reading (ENGLIT 0500)–“Light and Darkness in the Twentieth Century”

Narrative and Technology (ENGLIT 0399)–“Narrating Nuclear, Information, and Biological Technology”

And my Narrative and Technology students will be keeping a class blog. Check it out here.

New Literature: ENGLIT 0635

I just finished designing the course I’m going to be teaching in the Spring at Pitt, New Literature (ENGLIT 0635), which I’ve titled “U.S. Fiction in the Wake of Postmodernism,” and I am quite excited about it! One of the challenges for such a course (whose online course description is incredibly broad, literally any lit. from the past 25 years, not limited to region, country, genre, style, school, etc.), is figuring out what exactly is meant by “new” literature. Consequently, I’m beginning the course where I often end other courses–Don DeLillo’s White Noise–and am taking up very seriously the idea that the lit. we’re reading is, if not precisely “after” postmodernism (not post-postmodernism, a useless term), then at least positioned in its wake–i.e. the pomo is still around, but it has also left, or something. The class will start w/ grounding pomo in fairly “standard” ways, move through Southland Tales, through some “theory” as lit. (informed by DFWs old “Fictional Futures” essay) and end by seriously considering two U.S. novels that have gotten quite a bit of play as of late, Freedom and The Submission. New lit. indeed. Below is the major reading list, followed by the rest. . .

Don DeLillo, White Noise: Text and Criticism, ed. Mark Osteen (New York: Penguin, 1998 [1985]).

Jonathan Franzen, Freedom (New York: Picador, 2011 [2010]). 

Richard Kelly & Brett Weldele, Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga (Anaheim: Graphitti Designs, 2007).

Amy Waldman, The Submission (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011).

David Foster Wallace, Girl with Curious Hair (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1989).

Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (New York: Verso, 2002).

 

And the additional reading:

Jonathan Franzen, “Why Bother” in How to Be Alone: Essays (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002), 55-97.

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 217-253.

Jean Baudrillard, “The Precession of Simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994), 1-42.

John Barth, “Lost in the Funhouse” in Lost in the Funhouse: Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Voice (New York: Anchor Books, 1988 [1968]), 72-97.

Fredric Jameson, “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” in Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 1-55.

David Foster Wallace, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never do Again (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1996), 21-82.

David Foster Wallace, “Octet” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1999), 131-160.

Steven Shaviro, “Southland Tales,” The Pinocchio Theory (weblog), http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=611.

David Foster Wallace, “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 8.3 (1988): 36-53, http://www.theknowe.net/dfwfiles/pdfs/ffacy.pdf.

Jacques Derrida, “No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives),” trans. Catherine Porter & Philip Lewis, in Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Vol. 1, ed. Peggy Kamuf & Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 387-410.

Fredric Jameson, “New Literary History and the End of the New,” New Literary History 39.3 (Summer 2008): 375-87.

Lev Grossman, “Jonathan Franzen: The Wide Shot,” Time 176.8 (Aug. 23, 2010): 42-8, http://www.time.com/ time/magazine/article /0,9171,2010185,00.html.

Michiko Kakutani, “A Family Full of Unhappiness, Hoping for Transcendence,” The New York Times (Aug. 15, 2010), C1, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/books/16book.html.

Sam Tanenhaus, “Peace and War,” The New York Times Book Review (Aug. 19, 2010), http://www.nytimes.com/ 2010/08/29/books/review/Tanenhaus-t.html?ref=books

B.R. Myers, “Smaller Than Life,” The Atlantic (Oct. 2010), http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/ 10/smaller-than-life/8212/

ENGLIT 0570: American Liteary Traditions

Today marks the beginning of a new school year, and it is one I am very much looking forward to, as I’ve designed the course I’m teaching, “American Literary Traditions,” subtitled, “The American Disaster: 21st C. Perspectives,” specifically around many of the avenues I’m exploring in a dissertation-type way right now.  As such, I assume I will occasionally be posting on the progress of this course over the next year, and thought I’d provide the reading list for the fall semester:

Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, 2nd ed., trans. Ann Smock (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995 [1986]).

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (New York: Vintage, 1953).

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (Norton Critical Edition), 2nd Ed., eds. Hershel Parker & Harrison Hayford (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2002).

The Shock Doctrine (Matt Whitecross, Michael Winterbottom & Naomi Klein, 2009).

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (New York: Back Bay Books, 1996).

Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (New York: Verso, 2002).

It is an ambitious, and slightly idiosyncratic class, but I hope it proves challenging, thought-provoking, and fun for both my students and I.  We’re watching a documentary adaptation of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine this first week, followed by reading Zizek’s book on 9/11 and Maurice Blanchot the following weeks, that’s before we even get to the three massive novels.  I can’t wait to see how it all goes down.