English R1A

Reading & Composition: "Games in Narrative/Games as Narrative


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2008 Matthew Sergi
MW 4-5:30 222 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Selected Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer); Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (Lewis Carroll); Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk); Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman); A course reader, including secondary material, and short stories/poems by William Gibson, Jorge Luis Borges, and Geoffrey Chaucer.


"The R1 series is built to hone your critical thinking, and to train you in the basic reading and composition techniques necessary to organize, sharpen, and communicate that thinking. Each section is formed around a discussion topic; since anything in this world can (and should) be subject to critical thought, anything is fair game.

Even games are fair game. As contemporary America saturates itself with new gaming media, a scholarly approach to the tales which games tell�at their present moment and in their historical context�is increasingly relevant. English R1A/3 discussions will center on the interplay between gaming and narrative (stories created from games, based on games, told through games, etc). The more playable a narrative is, the less linear it becomes�approaching, though never reaching, a simulated (manipulated) reality, �an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times� (to use Borges�s words). This is as true of Grand Theft Auto as it is of chess (What story does chess contain? What stories contain chess?).

By spring�s end, you will be trained in how to look deeper into things that, because they are playful, may seem simple�but never are. At the same time, you will be trained in how to use clear prose to create and participate in a written discourse about those subjects (whether in essay-writing or weblogging). The syllabus will incorporate literary, cinematic, and playable narratives (role-playing, board, and video games), as well as secondary texts drawn from gamer culture. Our approach to playable texts will be limited by, and adjusted to, student access to media (console games, especially newer ones, will be demoed in class); however, you�ll be expected to play certain easily accessible (and usually free) games as homework, just like any reading or screening assignment (though sometimes the instructor will provide cheats or strategy guides)."

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