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Marco Polo: Mobile Methods and Itinerant Composition

Marco Polo: Mobile Methods and Itinerant Composition

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Published by Grace Hagood
This essay will consider how play functions as an epistemic method in composition.
This essay will consider how play functions as an epistemic method in composition.

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Published by: Grace Hagood on Apr 17, 2013
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Hagood 1Grace HagoodCCCC3/16/2013Marco Polo: Mobile Methods and Itinerant CompositionWhile video games and learning are receiving increasing attention both from within theacademy and without, some of the most interesting applications of games for learning havenothing to do with video games. James Paul Gee's work has focused on just this concept, the ideathat games are powerful learning machines, with design features that model good pedagogical practice. More recently, Jane McGonigal has argued that game structures create positivefeedback loops that both engage and motivate participants. This panel will provide an overviewof gamification, the practice of applying game design principles to non-game situations, andexplore its productive use in learning environments. Specifically, we will discuss gamifying aclass, a campus, and a conference (as a form of professional development).After attending this session, conference participants will have a basic introduction totheories and processes related to gamification as well as a reference list for further reading.Participants will also have detailed examples of games, and specific activities within games, thatthey might incorporate into both their classes and larger learning or professionalization events.Identifying seven play patterns in human behavior, The National Institute for Play (NIP)claims that play is a developmentally important process in which we all engage. Working fromthis view, Speaker 2 will consider how play functions as an epistemic method in composition.
Drawing upon Roger Caillois‟s continuum of paidia and ludus, Speake
r 2 argues that playfunctions as an inventive process through the oscillation between spontaneous, unstructuredexploration and rules-based, structured games. Such a view takes into account all of the materialand semiotic ecologies of composition, rather than limiting ourselves to the classroom. In The
Future of Invention, John Muckelbauer offers a performative analysis of Plato‟s Sophist toarticulate an itinerant style of invention. Similarly, in “Treatise on Method,” Samuel Taylor 
Coleridge addresses the necessity of an iterative method of invention through recursive self-
orientation. These views of method‟s role as an epistemic process of self 
-constitution via
recursive wandering return us to the NIP‟s examples of play patterns as mental, emotional, an
d bodily exploration. Through the trope of Marco Polo as an explorer, writer, and game, Speaker 2will investigate how mobile methods of invention offer a playful approach to composition.In 1271, Marco Polo set off with his father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo to travel to theheart of the sprawling Mongol Empire. Their circuitous and perilous journey from Venicethrough the Middle East and Asia eventually led them to Shangdu, the
Khan‟s summer palace
,
immortalized in Samuel Taylor Coleridge‟s famous poem, “Kubla Khan.”
 
Hagood 2In Xanadu did Kubla KhanA stately pleasure-dome decree :Where Alph, the sacred river, ranThrough caverns measureless to manDown to a sunless sea.As writing process theory has arguably developed from an open system of invention to acalcified set of practices, academics have looked for less systematized models of composition to
explore. From Geoffrey Sirc‟s use of avant garde art practices for composition, to Alex Reid‟s
work on networked compositional spaces, scholars are engaging new avenues for writing pedagogy. Games are one such avenue, and a popular one at that, as evidenced by the abundance
of books and articles published over the past few years, from Jonathan Alexander‟s 2009
CollegeComposition and Communication
article, “
Gaming, Student Literacies, and the Composition
Classroom: Some Possibilities for Transformation,”
which tantalizes readers by touting games as
“juicier thinking about
literacy
” (53)
 
to Rebekah Shultz Colby‟s 20
12 article in
Computers and Composition Online,
“Gender and Games in a First
-
Year Writing Classroom,” which theorizes
digital and academic literacies through six case studies of female
World of Warcraft 
players.In the foundational composition studies text,
Composition-Rhetoric,
Robert
 
Connors
succinctly identifies the promise of the writing process movement to emphasize “becoming over  being, process over product, and thus continuing experience over final judgment” (67). However,
despite the best intentions of process theory enthusiasts, the pedagogical practices associated
 
Hagood 3
with the movement quickly became concretized. As early as 1994, Lad Tobin noted that “the
writing process has become an entity, even an industry, with a life of its own, certainly a life
apart from its first theorists” (8).
In the past fifteen years, scholars have approached the study of digital games through a
wide variety of lenses, from the application of cultural studies in Mary Flanagan‟s
Critical Play
 
to the extrapolation of pedagogical practices from games in James Paul Gee‟s
What VideoGames Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy
. However, since the publication of Ian
Bogost‟s
 Persuasive Games
in 2007, rhetorical criticism of games has been dominated by afocus on procedurality, or how the rhetorical and computational structures of games create procedures through which meaning is made. Bogost takes particular care in
 Persuasive Games
tonote how computation functions as the representational medium of games and, therefore, procedurality produces expression through representation, a model which composition scholarsmay find familiar if we consider language our representational medium and writing processes asthe means of expression.Bogost is quick to point out that procedurality is not limited to computation; procedural
structures can be found in “literature, art, film, and daily life” (5). Further, he notes that
 procedures both limit and allow action, are not necessarily linear, and can hold unexpectedconsequences in the meaning-making process. However, the popularity of procedural rhetoricmay be leading to a use of procedurality as a reductive, concretized method of game designrather than as a way of viewing games in terms of the full range of possibilities enabled and precluded by their structures. As such, procedural rhetoric may be facing a characterization

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