Summer Reading

I know it is a bit late to be posting my summer reading list, but here's the things I have or will be reading this summer

  • Alien Phenomenology, or What It's Like to Be a Thing, Ian Bogost
  • How to Do Things with Videogames, Ian Bogost
  • Inter/vention: Free Play in the Age of Electracy, Jan Rune Holmevik
  • Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, Jane McGonigal
  • Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being, Thomas Rickert
  • The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Ken Robinson
  • Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Ken Robinson
  • Toward a Composition Made Whole, Jody Shipka

I've spent the last few weeks re-reading disciplinary essays on Levinas, particularly the JAC and P&R special issues. That project is (finally) almost over. The Bogost, Robinson, and Holmevik readings are for a piece on sf0, the real world-mmo community gaming site (I'm still working on language to describe exactly what this thing is). I collected research on student participation with the project last semester, and will continue that research with a graduate class in the fall. I came across the McGonigal looking at Alex Reid's syllabus for a summer course on games and the title is enticing for that project.

I've heard a lot of good things about the Shipka; I am interested in the book's emphasis on multimodal education and placing the impetus for rhetorical decisions on students. The Rickert is more for fun- I hope it is out so I can include it in my graduate Contemporary Rhetorics seminar in the fall of 2013.


Among the Republicans

Prepping for my role as a blogger during the upcoming RNC, I read Among the Republicans by V.S. Naipaul, a reflection upon the 1984 Republican National Convention. Interesting is the extent to which Naipaul focuses on the rising New Right religion, in a sense that resonates with Burke's identification:

The invocation was being spoken, by a rabbi; and the piety seemed correct. The occasion, with its magnification of man, had a feel of religion. Not religion as contemplation or a private experience of divinity; but religion as the essence of a culture, the binding, brotherhood transcending material need. That, rather than political debate, was what people had come to Dallas for.

Of course, the "transcending material need" anticipates Thomas Frank and Andrew Gelman by a few decades. And what does this new religion offer? How to explain its success?

The fundamentalism that the Republicans had embraced went beyond religion. It simplified the world in general; it rolled together many different kinds of anxieties—schools, drugs, race, buggery, Russia, to give just a few; and it offered the simplest, the vaguest solution: Americanism, the assertion of the American self.

This echoes what I wrote in my essay on the 2004 election; that Bush's rhetorical success rested on his ability to reframe complex problems in simple terms, and especially on his ability to draw on a powerful notion of a beleaguered but stedfast "us" righteously opposed to a debase, highbrow, and/or polyvocal them (a bunch of sophists, really).