I believe in helping students obtain a sense of ownership and control over technology, and require them to engage with it in some way as part of class activities. All of my courses integrate the social justice perspectives of feminist, queer, and critical race scholars and provide students with a sense of the historical depth of contemporary media practices.
Course websites are provided where available to the public. Please contact me if you would like to see schedules and assignments for those classes that are not linked.
ENGL 410: Death in the Digital
Death comes to all of us eventually. This course will examine the role of digital technologies in shaping our understanding of death and dying in the networked world. As scanning and simulation technologies make us increasingly knowledgeable about the body’s fragility, entertainment media like video games and digital animation offer new ways to play with dying and killing. Rapidly spreading social media circulates news and images of death in record time while simultaneously preserving the lives of the departed in the form of profiles and online memorials.
Of particular interest during our study will be the unequal distribution of death across the population. Death comes to all of us, but not at the same time. Race, disability, class, gender, and geographical location leave people vulnerable to death at different rates. Can understanding the role of technology in our contemporary death worlds help us to intervene in these injustices?
FMST 398: Gaming and Justice
This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of game design through the lens of control systems and strategies of resistance to the often problematic content and practices of the video game industry. The course is part seminar, part workshop that will give students an introduction to the rhetorical devices of video games and virtual spaces and experience in manipulating those devices to create a prototype for a digital game or other interactive experience. Approximately half of the class meetings will engage students in traditional seminar-style lecture and discussion format, with the other half dedicated to guiding student groups in building theoretically-informed projects that will make a persuasive argument about or intervention on a social justice issue of their choice. This will give students experience in connecting theory with praxis, creating collaborative scholarship, working in new modes of literacy, and extending the uses of technology beyond those for which they were originally intended.
ENGL 259: Introduction to Game Studies
This course will serve as a gateway into the study of video games from an analytical humanities perspective. Because reception, design, and, ultimately, interpretation are intimately entwined in gaming culture today, students will also engage the popular and corporate discourses surrounding gaming, particularly as they address issues of social justice, gender, race, and sexuality. These are some of the most pressing issues in U.S. society at large, and they have an increasingly important impact on entertainment industries.
Over the course of the semester, students will fine-tune interpretive skills that have been developed in other humanities courses (such as film studies or English) for the unique challenges presented by video games and other interactive texts. We will proceed through three units that will loosely cover the history, formal properties, and culture surrounding digital games.
University of California, Davis
GameCamp! by ModLab
Co-facilitated with Josef Nguyen, GameCamp! is a series of game design workshops offered free of charge to UC Davis students. Combining paper prototyping and creativity exercises with technical workshops on a variety of platforms, GameCamp! helps students at multiple levels of technical expertise begin
All materials for the GameCamp! workshops are available to download from the website. You may use or remix them for your own not-for-profit projects.
University of California, Santa Barbara
ENGL 165GS: Gaming the System
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the fundamentals of video game studies through the lens of control systems and strategies of resistance to the often problematic content and practices of the games industry. The course is part seminar, part workshop that will give students an introduction to the rhetorical devices of video games and virtual spaces and experience in manipulating those devices to create a virtual platform-based persuasive object. Approximately half of the class meetings will engage students in traditional seminar-style lecture and discussion format, with the other half dedicated to guiding student groups in manipulating games to build theoretically-informed projects that will make a persuasive argument about or intervention on a social justice issue of their choice. This will give students experience in connecting theory with praxis, creating collaborative scholarship, working in new modes of literacy, and extending the uses of technology beyond those for which they were originally intended.
After completing this course, students will have worked in groups to produce a concept for a game, game mod, or virtual space, along with a working proof-of-concept demonstration. This course will build teamworking skills, familiarization with new technology, and an understanding of how ideas can be communicated in ways other than writing.
ENGL 146FM: Freaks, Aliens, and Monsters
Freaks, aliens, and monsters have traditionally been figures used to externalize anxieties about difference. Whether future fantasies or alternative visions of the past and present, science fiction allows authors and readers to think through contemporary conditions of the human, nonhuman, and posthuman. This course investigates science fiction literature, film, and new media that explore the notion of the so-called “Other,” but with a slight twist: thinking through how the freak/alien/monster represents both a rejection of difference and a site of power for members of an oppressed class. Freakiness and monstrosity can reveal the fallacy of the self/other divide and highlight how being “normal” is insufficient to keep up with a world subject to the rapidly changing forces of technology, population shifts, and environmental conditions.
After completing this course, students will have a working vocabulary of issues of difference related to race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and physical ability and understand the ways in which these categories intersect and complicate one another. In accordance with the Literature and the Culture of Information Specialization, students will be able to situate the concerns of these texts within technocultural frames. Finally, as with all English courses, this class will help to develop a studentʼs ability to critically engage with culture and communicate complex ideas in writing.
ENGL 147DM: Doing Things With Media
This course will interrogate, explore, and explode the term “interactive,” which has been used (and abused!) in media studies and popular parlance to describe that which we can do more of with “new” media texts than with old. This simplistic formulation, while useful for shorthand conversations about what we do with different types of media, belies the ways in which media have always been interactive – as well as the rich variety of experiences different forms of media bring. The reader, the spectator, the fan, the user, the gamer, the follower, the hacker, the troll: each of these roles has its own set of activities and interactions related to different mediations of text. Over the course of the quarter, we will look at what humans have done in the past with media, what they are doing with it now, and some of the things they might be doing with it in the future, all with an eye for how different types of interactions influence the meaning making processes that occurs between ________ and their media.
ENGL 165LG: Literature and Gaming
This course will serve as a gateway into digital game studies for undergraduate majors in literature. Combining the study of print-based texts and digital games, the six-week program will interrogate five areas in which “video games” are commonly seen to diverge from “literature”: Play, Narrative, Space, Time, and Avatar. The literature, games, and theory chosen for the course will help students complicate their understanding of each of these topics as they relate to both gaming and literature, with the ultimate goal of troubling the distinction between these two fields. At the end of the term, students will possess not only knowledge of the fundamentals of the study of digital games, but also the ability to identify the gamic aspects of print texts and the vocabulary with which to discuss them.
Summer 2012, Summer 2010.
ENGL129: Queer Textuality/Queer Virtualities
The purpose of this course is to investigate queer virtuality – intersections between queerness and the virtual. How do virtual worlds, video games, and digital art enable, restrict, and engage queer expression? What does queer theory have to say about the possibilities of the virtual? Starting with theorists writing in the early days of online text- only communities and working through contemporary art and gaming practice, the course will explore themes of virtual embodiment, play, gender and sexual experimentation, and queer issues that intersect with other aspects of identity such as race and ability.
Summer 2011. Private Gauchospace site.
WRIT2: Academic Writing
Fall 2010, Winter, Spring 2011. Private Gauchospace site.
ENGL 147SM: Social Media. Co-taught with Professor Rita Raley.
Winter 2010. Ning site discontinued.
ENGL122NW: Narratives of War. Teaching Assistant.
ENGL 105A: Early Shakespeare. Teaching Assistant.