Introducing Research with the High Priestess of Soul

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I was having a hard time figuring out how to use I Am Not Your Negro in my first-year composition course. This film by Raoul Peck, who is visiting UWM in a couple weeks, is based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin. Samuel Jackson's reading punctuates Peck's interpretation of Baldwin's work, a view of the Movement through the eyes of its assassinated leaders, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. Breathtaking as it was, I figured it was too much to ask students to untangle the many strands of the film, to reduce it to research techniques and methods. In desperation, I came across the Netflix documentary about Nina Simone in my watch list. After watching a dozen minutes or so, it was clear that this was a much better alternative than I could have hoped. The title, What Happened, Miss Simone?, was the first clue that this film would work well as...
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Project Proposal Assignment and In-Class Activity

Project Proposal Assignment and In-Class Activity To help prepare Academic Writing Strategies students for their project proposals, I break them up into group to create a short professional proposal. Although aimed at non-academic audiences, these proposals each carry similar considerations. For example, thoughtful consideration of venue, expenses, and timeline demonstrate a strategic approach to a project. Each of these mock proposals are intentionally goofy and so the justifications that are part of each proposal are low-stakes while still imparting the sense that these are significant elements to a proposal. The class was given 15 minutes to prepare and ~5 minutes to present, 20 minutes for the entire class. This was enough time but it was crunched towards the end. Preparation time seemed adequate though. Proposal Project Sheet and In-Class Prompts...
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SUPERBRIEF: Zork

SUPERBRIEF: Zork

Old School Gamer Magazine I've recently started writing for Old School Gamer Magazine, a recent startup whose first issue should be hitting the shelves soon. My weekly blog SUPERBRIEF, looks at old PC games and interactive fictions. Here's a sample: Opening one of the most legendary of computer games, this seemingly dull pair of statements embodies much of what makes Infocom's Zork so wonderful. Among the many text adventures that were published at the time, the brainchild of Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling is significant for its subtle complexity and status as a bridge between tabletop RPGs and their digital offspring.   While students at MIT, Zork's authors set out to expand on Adventure, a shareware game (surely to be featured at a later date) which was bouncing around academic mainframes during the late 1970s. Named for the term used to describe uncompleted programs, Zork was later renamed Dungeon until TSR, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, threatened to sue. Under its...
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Intellectual Property and the Preservation of Digital Works

In light of October being American Archives Month, I wanted to take this opportunity to consider how intellectual property impacts the preservation of digital works. While it’s tempting to assume that the software publisher or electronic text author will take every measure to secure that work’s existence, the history of media demonstrates that this is not the case. Unlike early cinema, music, and other culturally-driven works that have been deemed worthy of preservation and restoration efforts, those works relying on computational technologies have thus far been overlooked. One of the forms that has gained some attention of late is that of computer games. In recent years, the preservation of computer games has developed into an academic priority. Museums such as The Strong in Rochester, NY posses growing stores of material pertaining to video game culture. At this summer's Computers and Writing conference (conveniently held in Rochester), I shared a project that Dr. Avery Edenfield, archivist Brad Houston, and I had been working...
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Teaching Meet Me Halfway

The first major text assigned to my English 215 students is Jennifer Morales' Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories, a collection of character snapshots that wrestle with identity issues central to the city. This was one of the first works that prompted me to overhaul the syllabus I had been working on. As a longtime resident, the string of police shootings and violence in the city has been a persistent murmur for most of my life in Milwaukee. Watching the live streams from Sherman Park, sufficient explanations continued to evade me. What good is critical analysis to the residents of this neighborhood? I watched the "unrest" (the milquetoast term assigned by the local media) from behind my barricade of books, one eye on the march the other on Huizinga's theories of play. Ridiculous. Once the exam was over, the syllabus was reworked to help work through the amoebic questions that remained. At the time, I had been helping out at People's Bookstore which...
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Verdictive Performatives in The Wire

Although utterances between team members might serve, as Goffman would argue, several purposes conducive to the performative ends, there are of course instances where words are less reflective of the agency of those involved. Instead, these utterances might be considered more as elements of the act that is being engaged in. Severing utterances from the agent(s) involved is an impossibility. In some instances, however, words are less anchored in the illocutionary categories that Austin discerns and more so in the context in which they are uttered. In focusing on the environment in which they are uttered and what task they support, we can see utterances may possess a spectrum of performative value especially between team members who are well attuned to a common purpose. This is remarkably illustrated in a scene from the first season of HBO’s The Wire wherein two detectives examine the kitchen where a young Baltimore woman had been brutally shot several months prior. During the episode “Old...
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The Overpass Light Brigade’s Remediation of Digital Media to Engage Public/Private Spaces

Originally published at MediaCommons After eclipsing print a few years ago, internet advertising has now surpassed that of broadcast media. This saturation of digital advertising is evidenced on nearly every web page or with every check of our personal electronic devices. Since the emergence of graphic design, outreach communications has at times returned to more ironic, “analog” modes to create messages that attract attention though the dense media haze. One of these modes has involved the exploitation of public spaces as forums of public discourse. While many of these modes encroach upon public spaces, they often become blurred within the urban landscape in the forms that includes graffiti, sidewalk chalk announcements, and tagging. Engaging audiences that are simultaneously indeterminable yet highly selective, these media offer an intriguing contrast to the targeted messages tailored to address our IP addresses and the content of our cookie jars. For activism outreach, public spaces are fundamental environments for demonstration and protest. Across America, various factions of the...
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Preface

My name is Kristopher Purzycki, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. For three years now, I’ve had the privilege of continuing my research in computer games with the Media, Cinema, and Digital Studies (MCDS) program, housed within the English department. At its broadest, my focus is on computer games, play, and digital interactivity. My upcoming dissertation, however, will focus on ecologies of interaction with and within digital environments, whether in VR spaces, digital art galleries, or augmented reality. This emerges from a theoretical approach grounded in ecocriticism and an interest in how people relate to place. Aside from my studies, I also serve as the Program Assistant for the interdisciplinary Digital Arts and Culture Program. As a First-Year Composition Instructor, I spend a great deal of time developing my students’ recognition of their rhetorical position as audiences for – as well as creators of – significant digital texts. In addition, I’m also taking on the role of...
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