Have you always wanted to take a course about video games? Need to fill an elective slot for Winter term? Since most students are picking out which courses they'd like to take, we thought we'd share a list of interesting courses being taught next term. There are many other good ones out there as well, but here are a few to get you started.
Video games are one of the most widespread, profitable, and influential cultural forms in the U.S. Their rise to cultural dominance comes about at the same time as changing notions of race and gender in the U.S., such as liberal multiculturalism, the feminist movement, and a growing multiracial population. This course will avoid categorizing games as having positive or negative social effects, instead focusing on how race and gender have been expressed in a variety of types and styles of video games; how video games function as a window into U.S. cultural politics and aesthetic forms. We will look at the history, theory, and practice of video games in the U.S. with particular attention to racial stereotyping, user demographics, racial conflict in shared world and social games. The class will end with an examination of “serious” games and the potential of game texts, environments, and communities to help remediate social inequality.
Constant, violent warfare characterized the “Three Kingdoms” period (220-280 CE), as valiant men exhausted their wits and their strength in an ultimate battle to make their kingdom – Wei, Shu, or Wu – the legitimate successor of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). Stories of this period have captured the imagination of people – in China and throughout East Asia – for almost two millennia, in the pages of novels, on the theatrical stage, in shrines, and in oral storytelling. The past several decades, through translations, films, and gaming, have seen an international explosion of interest in these stories.
This course seeks to answer two questions: First, what makes this story endure? And, second, how does it transform as it moves through time and space, and across media? We’ll attempt to answer these questions through critical engagement with what is called China’s first novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi, ca. 1522), as well as with supplementary texts that include both academic (criticism, commentary, theory) and popular (fan websites, card games, collectibles) materials.
What kinds of literatures result from the world of digital and electronic media? Stories told through QR codes painted on the side of buildings, sound art performances that unfold when walked through a city, and algorithmic installations that scan chatrooms for fragments of text all suggest that the ‘book’ is only one possible format in a new universe of possibilities. This course takes up the strange and experimental forms that not only push the boundaries of literature but also investigate social and political questions about gender, race, and nationality in today’s media-saturated environment.
Students will learn to describe, analyze, and play with such works of literature, but this course will also include a lab component in which students can also try their hand at creating electronic literatures of their own. Objects studied may include those created by Amaranth Borsuk, Amy Sara Carroll, Oni Buchanan, Zoe Quinn, Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher, Brian Kim Stefans, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, as well as analogous forms drawn from experimental poetry, video games, and contemporary art.
In this class we will explore the experimental, technological, and highly creative world of Digital Storytelling. Digital Storytelling is a genre which contains many forms of multi-media based literature, from hypertext (links within a story/poem that transport you to other connected stories), to merging video, sound, photography, and language in a digital space. Other forms of electronic literature engage the viewer/reader through online textual games, the use of sound to control the words on the screen, and even movements of the body to interact with text.
Even though we might use highly advanced forms of digital communication/storytelling everyday (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogsites, texts and emails) we often don't consider that these same technologies can be used to create fictional stories, poems, creative non-fiction, and multi-media art. In this class we will learn to utilize these technologies creatively, producing our own works of electronic fiction. We will read a wide selection of electronic literature as a way to begin our own creative works in digital storyelling. We will study the craft of creative writing, examining traditional elements of plot, character development, and language as a basis to experiment with more non-traditional forms. Throughout the semester we will read one another’s electronic stories/poems and workshop them, highlighting the strengths of the pieces as well as suggesting ways for the author to strengthen their work even further.
Much of our everyday lives are spent on-the-go with our hands on our small-screen digital devices. From smartphones and tablets to GoPros, game controllers, and robotics, our interaction with media is guided by touch, the senses, and constant movement. This class starts with the “digit” in digital – our fingers – and expands to consider how we physically interact with entertainment media and communications technologies and why this materiality matters for understanding the social, political, and economic dimensions of today’s mobile media landscape. We’ll begin with a brief history of the term digital. How did digital move from fingers and hands to something that indicates calculation, computing, and internet connectivity? What does digital signify today, or has it become meaningless? Whether through swiping left or right, stealing the remote, haptic gaming, VR headsets, or strapping a small screen on your wrist, the digit is the primary mode of interaction for "always-on" entertainment, education, communication, self-improvement, and productivity. This course focuses on key themes of mobility, tactility and haptics, visuality, sound, and ubiquity. We’ll study the digital not only as “new media” but also as the main locus of the thinkable and mobile world.
*Please note this course focuses on the critical-cultural study of digital media. We will definitely tinker with digital devices and some of the course components may include making media, but you do not need prior technical knowledge and this is NOT a production course.