Texas Tech University

Featured Scholar - February 2019



What are you watching/streaming?
I've been rewatching Game of Thrones, but at this rate I'll have to rewatch it again before the final season airs in April. I am fascinated by the way the TV show has gotten ahead of the books. I know some people complain about the show's departures, and I have my own axe to grind, to be sure--but I love how many women have come to power. And many kinds of women, with many kinds of power (not just sitting a throne). I also finally watched Bandersnatch, the "interactive film" by Black Mirror. I read that it was drafted in part with Twine, a free open-source tool I use in my course on videogames.

What games are you playing?
For the past three semesters, I taught a composition course on videogames. Yes, students get to play videogames in class, and for homework, and they also design their own playable videogame in the final unit of the course, using Twine. Because the course is writing-focused, the readings and writing assignments are organized around the rhetorical issues that videogames raise: What do the rules encourage me to do (or not do)? What arguments does the game itself make? If I get to teach it again, I'd add Donut County, a game you play as a hole in the ground. Over the winter break, my wife and I started a cooperative game called Pode: I'm a rock and she's a star; I love it!

What are you listening to?
I usually listen to music because a song gets stuck in my head--usually because some word or phrase in the lyrics gets me thinking about the song, and often before I even notice it. Like once I got Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" stuck in my head... because my feet hurt ("I would still be on my feet"). For the last few days I have been listening to Jenny Lewis's album The Voyager, especially the title track. I haven't figured out yet if there's a reason, though.

What are you reading?
I read a few novels over the winter break, including Bonfire by Krysten Ritter (yes, of Jessica Jones). The Lubbock Public Library has a pretty good system for checking out ebooks, and I've found a few things on their app I might not otherwise have picked up. For work, I've been reading a lot of articles on Title IX, sexual harassment, and sex discrimination. Not the most uplifting research, but it's work that's still so needed.

What are you writing/thinking about?
My current project is a book about rhetorical theory, academic freedom, and campus activism. I'm interested in the way that accusations that students are just "too sensitive" have cropped up in a variety of debates over campus issues (like Title IX). Sensitivity, in my view, is a precondition for rhetoric: it's what lets us be affected or addressed by other people, especially in language. So I am exploring why people talk about sensitivity like it's a reason to dismiss the concerns of student activists, and how we could build a theory of rhetoric on sensitivity instead.