Jonathan Sterne: Stretching Time: Quantum Legacies in Analog and Digital Media

Please join the Digital Studies Workshop for a lecture by Jonathan Sterne (McGill University)

When: September 25, 4PM
Where: Hatcher Graduate Library, Room 100
Abstract: This talk examines the lesser-known work and legacy of Dennis Gabor. Gabor was a physicist famous for inventing holography. But he also applied quantum theory to sound, and in so doing offered an important corrective to prevailing interpretations of wave theories of sound derived from Joseph Fourier’s work. To prove his point, Gabor built a device called the “kinematic frequency compressor,” which could time-stretch or pitch-shift audio independently of the other operation, a feat previously considered impossible in the analog domain. After considering the machine, I trace its technical and cultural descendants in advertising, cinema, avant-garde music, and today in the world’s most popular audio software, Ableton Live.


Workshop with Adrienne Shaw

At 10AM on Friday April 11 in NQ 6360 (the Screen Arts and Cultures conference room), we will be holding a workshop with Adrienne Shaw looking at intersections between Game Studies and Queer Studies.

A short reading/playing list can be found in the Readings section.

Adrienne Shaw: The Charms of the Magic Circle: Queer Subjects, Queer Theory, and Game Studies

Please join the Digital Environments Workshop and the Department of Communication Studies for a lecture by Adrienne Shaw

When: April 10, 4PM
Where: 2435 NQ

There has been a great deal of attention to gay content in mainstream games and queer content in independently produced games. More than just study the presence of queerness in games, I think the time is ripe to consider more rigorously what queer theory contributes to game studies. Specifically, I will focus on the insights from queer theory that can be used to rethink the methods and discourses of game studies as an area of research. In doing so, I begin with queerness as a method of analysis, as described by Gayle Salamon (2009). Drawing on my past research with marginalized gaming audiences I will discuss the ways in which game studies has tended to rely on descriptive and normalizing research, but argue that queer theory provides a much needed critical lens to many of the issues that are the core of game studies. In particular, drawing on the work of people like Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Gayle Rubin (1993), Michael Warner, Sara Ahmed, and Jack Halberstam, I want to interrogate discourses surrounding who, where, and how games are played. Queer theory, along with its intersections with feminist and postcolonial theory, and critical race, postcolonial theory, disability and trans studies (to name a few), has always been about a politic of inquiry and not just a subject of study. In my presentation I will address how might we use those insights to push game studies, and in turn games, forward?


Jodi A. Byrd: “Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted: Indigenous Animus in the Age of Liberation”

When: March 26, 4PM
Where: 3512 Haven Hall
What: A close-reading of Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation examining how indigenous studies intersect with video game studies, especially at the sites of structure, narrative, racial representations, and temporality and the ways that indigeneity disrupts the colonial logics of code, law and sovereignty.

Jodi Byrd

Workshop with merritt kopas

At 10AM on March 14 in NQ 5450 (the Communication Studies conference room), we will be holding a workshop with merritt kopas looking at some specific games made by her and her colleagues.

A short reading/playing list can be found in the Readings section

In addition to the free games listed, merritt has asked that we play one of her commercial games, Consensual Torture Simulator. If you are planning to attend the workshop, please RSVP, and we will send you a copy of the game.

Hope to see you there!

merritt kopas: “Working the Fractures How Trans Women Artists are Changing Digital Play”

Please join the Digital Environments Workshop for a lecture by merritt kopas.

When: March 14, 1PM
Where: NQ 2435

The last few years have seen a radical expansion of trans narratives and of the field of videogames and interactive fiction. Trans women activists have made a tremendous range of lives not only imaginable, but possible. At the same time, the availability of tools that require little or no programming and the growth of supportive communities has led to a broadening of authorship in games. This expansion has meant a wider range of people making games, people who are often pursuing the medium for its expressive qualities rather than with the goal of mass commercial success. Many of the people working in this newly opened space are trans women who are creating work that is exploring new possibilities both within literary traditions and established modes of videogames. With these developments in mind, this talk has two goals. First, I will tell a new history of recent shifts and expansions in digital games and interactive fiction that restores trans women’s work to the forefront. Second, I will claim digital games and hypertext as a critical site for the elaboration of new trans narratives in the face of the continued dismissal of digital games by more established arts and literature channels, arguing that anyone interested in new forms of trans discourse cannot afford to ignore the fruitful intersections of writing and digital play.


Influencing Digital Environments: Round 2

Please join us on November 8 at 1:00pm in NQ 5450 for our second annual roundtable featuring University of Michigan faculty discussing the works that have influenced their own thinking about digital media and culture. This year, our panel consists of:

André Brock (Communication Studies)

Sheila C. Murphy (Screen Arts and Cultures)

Christian Sandvig (SI/Communication Studies)

Melanie Yergeau (English).

PDFs of the selected readings can be found in the Readings section.

2013 Fall Mixer

The Digital Environments Workshop invites you to our 2013 Fall mixer! Please join us in kicking off the year and in welcoming our new co-organizer (Melissa Chalmers) and faculty co-mentor (Lisa Nakamura). Come hear about events and workshops we are in the process of planning, and meet graduate students and faculty interested in digital culture. Please bring any  suggestions you may have for future events.
Hors d’oeuvres and assorted refreshments will be served.
When: Friday October 4, 4:00-6:00
Where:  TBD (RSVP for location)
Please RSVP ( by September 25

Graduate Student Workshop on Digital Pedagogy

Please join the Digital Environments Workshop for a workshop on teaching digital media with Prof. Lisa Nakamura. Prof. Nakamura will share strategies for putting together effective syllabi, designing non-traditional assignments, and encouraging students to think critically about media they use (and take for granted) every day. The workshop will take place on April 24 from 12:00-1:00 in the Communication Studies Conference Room (NQ 5450).  Please RSVP if you plan to attend. We hope to see you there!