Readings from ’18 Spring Semester

More for me than for you: some favorite readings this semester from the three classes I took. Links when possible.

DIGITAL MEDIA AND VIRTUAL PERFORMANCE

  • Bay-Cheng, Sarah. “Digital Historiography and Performance.” Theatre Journal 68, no. 4 (December 2016): 507-27. doi:10.1353/tj.2016.0104. Bay-Cheng also spoke at Brown this semester about a related project on digital history in museums, which is directly in my wheelhouse. Bay-Cheng’s discussion of the Decision Points Theatre at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum brings up all the right questions about how tech changes the experience and performance of history and history-making.
  • Taylor, T. L. “Finding New Worlds.” In Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture, 1-19. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. I read chapters 1 & 3, both which were captivating and engaging as introductions to online game culture. I’m still thinking through being a power gamer, the connections between physical and virtual worlds, representation of the self, and being a researcher in these spaces. I need to get a copy of the (physical) book so I can finish the whole thing!
  • Salen, Katie, and Eric Zimmerman. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004. We read a few sections regarding the concept of the “magic circle” in game design, and how a lusory attitude makes it possible for players to follow implicit rules. In particular, I was fascinated by the examples in Chapter 33 of games that explicitly blur these boundaries of the magic circle, and where/how one plays a game. This happened around the same time I was reading other works regarding game fundamentals, and it was fascinating to think about the magic circle in action. How does the magic circle function elsewhere?
  • Gillespie, Tarleton. 2010. “The Politics of ‘Platforms’.” New Media & Society 12(3):347-364. I actually read this one in undergrad for a related course on textuality and new media. I made it about halfway through this time before realizing I had read it before! The work is over eight years old at this point, but still relevant to our understanding of online content providers. Gillespie’s definitions of platform and the use of the term for different audiences are extremely helpful in identifying the ways in which platforms continue to shape our relationship with companies and content.
  • Morrison, Elise. 2016. Discipline and Desire: Surveillance Technologies in Performance. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Surveillance? Biometrics? Race? Gender? Art? Performance? Responding to these questions? Chapter 5 of Morrison’s work has it all. I’m mostly fascinated by the range of performances presented in the piece, and how the ways in which we can defend ourselves from surveillance technologies (or play against them) is incredibly difficult depending on what the technologies intend to do to/for us.
  • Miller, Kiri. 2017. Playable Bodies: Dance Games and Intimate Media. New York: Oxford University Press. I already wrote my critical annotations here and here. Kiri’s facilitation of the course and connections to other works helped cement this as one of the readings to which I kept returning. I came into the course knowing very little about bodily interfaces, games, or dance – this book provided a strong introduction and jumping-off point for the other readings.

 

CRITICAL APPROACHES TO PRESERVATION AND CULTURAL HERITAGE

  • Benedict Anderson, “Census, Map, Museum,” in Imagined Communities (Verso: New York, 1991 [orig 1983]): 163-185. I’ve read Anderson before for a few different courses. In the context of cultural heritage, Anderson highlighted the connections between it and nationalism, and the tools that get us there.
  • James E. Young, “The Counter-Monument: Memory against Itself in Germany Today,” Critical Inquiry 18:2 (Winter, 1992): 267-296. Young’s concept of counter-monuments, and their work in Germany to understand who can defend/reshape/recreate/read the memory embedded in memorials walls through artistic, ethical, and historical questions. How do we make monuments that remember events without the nationalist myth taking center stage? How do we make monuments that commemorate without relying solely on memory? How do we make monuments that last?
  • Jorge Otero-Pailos, “Experimental Preservation,” Places Journal (September 2016), 19 pages. https://doi.org/10.22269/160913. This one is short enough to read through for a summary. I’m primarily interested this tension between experimentation and preservation within the field, and how preservationists can do both well.
  • Franklin D. Vagnone, The Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums (New York: Routledge, 2016). Vagnone is another book I’ve read previously. I believe that community engagement should be the center of cultural institutions’ work. Finding ways to do that in an institution by both valuing communities and preserving the institution’s materials is a tough balance – one we started to unpack in our course.
  • Selections from Max Page, Why Preservation Matters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016). Can’t believe I never took advantage of the opportunity to meet Page (or Young, for that matter) while at UMass. Chapter 6’s focus on interpreting difficult places challenges the public notion that historic preservation is about the heroic and beautiful. How do preservationists handle difficult histories?

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