ENGL 485/570 (Sections 485-901, 570-901, Schedule #38440, #39196)
Virginia Commonwealth University
Spring 2019
MW 5:30-6:45pm :: Hibbs 440
Prof. David Golumbia
Office: 324D Hibbs Hall
Spring 2019 Office Hours: M 2-5pm

Literary Theory and Criticism: Texts, Technology, Games

This course focuses on three major, connected issues in our world right now: the global turn toward the political right, the role of race in politics and culture, and the ways that digital technologies, especially games, function as political and social objects. The readings will include several recent volumes on games, including ones that try to situate games and gaming politically (Dyer-Witheford and de Peuter, Games of Empire, and game developer Zoe Quinn's account of being the target of an organized hate campaign, Crash Override) and as formal and cultural objects (Boluk and LeMieux, Metagaming); four very different explorations of the politics of digital technologies (Eubanks, Automating Inequality; Han, Psychopolitics; Raunig, A Thousand Machines, and John Carreyou's Bad Blood, about the Theranos corporation that hypnotized Silicon Valley despite the stark improbability of its claims); a brief book about the overall shift toward the political right (Connolly, Aspirational Fascism), and two books about the intersections of texts and technology with race, especially African Americans (Sharpe, In the Wake, and Schalk, Bodyminds Reimagined).

The course it taught largely by discussion. Students will write two medium-length papers on relatively open topics, which can include work on primary texts (literary texts, media, games) informed by the issues raised in the course readings.


Texts for purchase (no specific editions are required):

Assignments and Evaluation

Evaluation will be based on written exercises and course participation as follows:

Course-Specific Policies

Official VCU Policy Statements

Please consult the Provost's official page on topics such as classroom conduct, email, the Honor System, and other important policy issues.

Week-by-Week Syllabus

Week One: Introduction

Week Two: Raunig, A Thousand Machines

Week Three: Quinn, Crash Override

Week Four: No classes (instructor away)

Week Five: Boluk and LeMieux, Metagaming

Week Six: Carreyrou, Bad Blood

Week Seven: Sharpe, In the Wake

Week Eight: No classes (spring break)

Week Nine: Eubanks, Automating Inequality

Week Ten: Schalk, Bodyminds Reimagined

Week Eleven: Connolly, Aspirational Fascism

Week Twelve: No classes (instructor away)

Week Thirteen: Dyer-Witheford and de Peuter, Games of Empire

Week Fourteen: Han, Psychopolitics

Week Fifteen: Conclusion

Week Sixteen: Conclusion

Final paper is due by the end of the final exam period for the course, 6:45pm, Weds, May 8, 2019, per the registrar's exam schedule. The paper should be submitted on Blackboard. No late papers can be accepted for the final paper assignment. There is no other final exam for the course.

Last updated  February 1, 2019.