Research

The core goal of my research activity is to put scholarship about digital media and its material platforms into conversation with feminist, critical race, and queer theory. This approach combines traditional humanities content analysis with a science and technology studies approach that interrogates material technologies and design processes. There is also a small ethnographic component to my work that involves observing social media conversations online and understanding the use of games and other technologies in context.

Gamer Trouble: Leveling Up Popular Identity Politics

Gamer Trouble supplements the predominant critical interest in media representation with an analysis of the technical, ludic, and cultural structures underwriting the games industry to understand ‘gamer trouble,’ the rich interplay between the cultural control structures embedded in a digital game system and the freedom allowed by the possibilities of play, or by the virtuosic disruption of the system through modification, cheating, and emergent behavior. “Trouble” refers to multiple things at once: troubled representations of race and gender in games that have been critiqued for decades; trouble in the identity politics of the “gamer,” which has always been a legal and cultural battleground; and the trouble of game studies itself, which is an interdiscipline still working to find its identity. This book project brings these topics into focus and offers ways to think about identity, politics, and disciplinarity in the age of the gamer.

Mechropolitics: Death and Dying in Computational Media

Mechropolitics tackles the political, technical, and social meanings of death, dying, and dismemberment in computational media, from headshots and ragdolls to permadeath and x-ray vision. The simulation of death as both technological feat and gamic goal produces a playground of mortality in which new orientations toward death and dying might be invented, rehearsed, and even normalized. These simulated death worlds, governed by what some have called procedurality and others protocol, enact what I call “mechropolitics”: a virtual, often whimsical, politics of death and dying with complicated resonances in the real world.

#transformDH

I’m a founding member of the #transformDH collective, a group of early-career academics dedicated to raising the profile of critical cultural studies projects in and around the digital humanities, as well as knowledge produced by those historically situated outside of the power structures of academia. The group has no concrete form; it consists mainly as a Twitter hashtag, a website maintained mostly by Marta Rivera Monclova, and a Tumblr maintained primarily by Moya Bailey. Follow #transformDH for more information.

Digital Projects

Please see the Digital Portfolio Page.

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