Teaching Biography

Courses for which I have served as sole instructor

“First-Year Seminar I: Frames, Claims, and Videogames.”
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Spring 2017.

Topic Description:
Following the general mission of First Year Seminar, this course teaches English writing, close reading, and composition, with an eye towards the unique needs of writing about interactive digital experiences. The medium of videogames has been home to heated and didactic debates over the past twenty years, erupting in academic criticism, popular discourse, the art world, and the U.S. legal system. Are videogames art? Do they tell stories? Do they deserve First Amendment protections under the U.S. Constitution? And are they ever going to “grow up”? This course examines these debates, the games that inspired them, and the games that came out of them, as a way of investigating how common rhetorical strategies have helped shaped the reception of a young medium across various diverse audiences. Upon examining a wide range of arguments about videogames, students will be expected to make their own arguments about videogames, marshalling the task of description in service of putting forward supportable, contestable, and non-obvious claims—the more didactic, the better!

“First-Year Seminar II: Avant-Garde Film and Video Art.”
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Two sections taught simultaneously Spring 2016
One section taught Spring 2017

Topic Description:
Following the general mission of First Year Seminar, this course teaches English writing, close reading, and composition, with an eye towards the unique needs of writing about experimental moving images. The work of analytical description of images moving in time already presents unique problems and opportunities for writers—how is this further complicated when one is working with highly abstract moving images, shorn free of the narrative trappings that usually govern commercial cinema? Arranged by topics, covering both the films themselves and prior writing about them, this course contains a broad survey primarily of U.S. avant-garde cinema, occasionally branching out into films from Canada, Mexico, Austria, and Japan, as well as including examples of video art. Throughout, one of the major concerns of the course will be how film critics have positioned the works they write about, and the various options open for essayists attempting to describe, analyze, and make persuasive arguments about their encounters with avant-garde moving-image works.

“First-Year Seminar I: Comedy and the Moving Image.”
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Fall 2016.

Topic Description:
Following the general mission of First Year Seminar, this course teaches English writing, close reading, and composition, with an eye towards the unique needs of writing about moving images.  What is comedy, and how does it translate across media? How is a visual gag different from a spoken joke? Why are things funny? This course examines a broad swath of the history of moving image media, examining films and videos alongside theories of comedy authored by philosophers, critics, and artists.  Beginning with turn-of-the-century silent slapstick before fast-forwarding to examine the place of comedy in avant-garde film and video art in the 1970s-1980s, and forward again to the new potentials of comedy in contemporary interactive new media art, this course examines not only what makes us laugh, but also how to write about laughter.  By the end of the course, students will be expected to use descriptive and analytic prose in service of putting forward supportable, contestable, and non-obvious claims about the serious business of comedy.

“First-Year Seminar I: Moving Images and Arguments.”
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Fall 2016.

Topic Description:
Following the general mission of First Year Seminar, this course teaches English writing, close reading, and composition, with an eye towards the unique needs of writing about moving images. From only a few years into its existence, cinema has been used rhetorically, to persuade audiences of the truth of its images and the self-evidentness of its arguments.  How is this done?  How is the work of a filmmaker different from that of someone who makes arguments using the written word—or, alternately, arguments through any of the other art forms?  Tearing through a broad swath of moving images, including documentaries, essay films, experimental cinema, animation, and interactive video works, this course examines the ways in which skilled image-makers can use their talents and raw material to foment ideas and make clear and incisive claims.  As a compliment to understanding how moving image artists can forward arguments without traditional written language, this course also examines what it means to argue about visual works using the written word, as students will be expected to marshal the task of description in service of putting forward supportable, contestable, and non-obvious claims about the moving images in question.

“Introduction to Mass Communication.”
DePaul University, Autumn 2015, Winter 2016, and Spring 2016.

Course Description:
CMN 102: Introduction to Mass Communication is one the three core courses required of all College of Communication students. This course offers students a broad overview of the mass media (print, film, video, recorded music, radio, television and the internet) with a particular focus on how these media impact our everyday lives. Students will develop critical frameworks for understanding how power operates across the media spheres of production, circulation, representation and reception. Attention is placed on how the social categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age and nationality inform each of these media spheres. The course also considers how recent developments in digital technologies, media convergence and globalization have transformed our media culture.

“First-Year Seminar I: The Moving and Interactive Image.”
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Fall 2015.

Topic Description:
Following the general mission of First Year Seminar, this course teaches English writing, close reading, and composition, with an eye towards the unique needs of writing about moving images. How can one proceed with the work of ekphrasis when dealing with images moving in time? What sort of claims can be made about how forms such as cinema operate rhetorically, and how does one go about making those claims? This course begins by building a vocabulary and set of tactics for talking about cinema, before stepping sideways an introducing the further complication of interactivity. Having written about cinema, how does one write about forms such as the videogame? In what way do the possibilities available to game developers differ from those available to filmmakers, and how does this affect the rhetorical possibilities of each? How does one account for space, time, and action in each medium? What aesthetic effects are open to games that are not open to cinema, and vice versa—and how can they best be critically examined?

“Introduction to Film.”
University of Chicago, Spring 2015.

Course Description:
This course is designed to introduce students to the basic terminology of film form and concepts of film analysis. Film screenings cover a wide variety of national cinemas, historical time periods, and genres – from classics of the international art cinema and the avant-garde to Hollywood hits. Emphasis is placed on film form and style, but we also will see film as an industrial system of production, distribution, and exhibition and as a popular medium that both reinforces and challenges social and aesthetic norms. Organized primarily by topics related to film style, major interventions in film theory will supplement formal analysis of films, such as issues of materiality, realism, gender, and film as a political tool.

“Media Aesthetics 1: Image.”
University of Chicago, Autumn 2014.

Key Questions for the Course:
What are the different forms of copying and imitation? How do these forms relate to the medium in which they are rendered? Are some forms of reproduction valued more than others, considered more hazardous than others? If so why? Is it possible to ascertain how seemingly “natural” and/ or “mechanical” forms of representation are not as objective or universal as they seem to be? Does the visible always have some relation to the invisible, and if so, what? What is the relation of knowledge to duplication? Is representation based on a prior reality or is reality constituted through representation—or some of both? Are there copies with no originals? And is it possible that images can seem as or more real than life itself, and under what conditions? Why and how has Western culture focused to such a great extent on questions and issues of reproduction? If we find that there are opposed ideologies about the legitimacy of simulation, are there important contradictions that result? How do these reverberate socially and politically?

“Comparative Media Poetics: Cinema and Videogames.”
University of Chicago, Spring 2013.

Course Description:
Cinema and videogames are two moving-image-based media, and, especially over the past two decades, each has been credited with influencing the other. But how deep do their similarities actually go? This course will investigate the raw materials and basic forms at the disposal of videogame developers and filmmakers, and analyze how these materials and forms shape viewer and player responses. In what way do the possibilities available to game developers differ from those available to filmmakers? How does each medium segment and present space, time, and action? What aesthetic effects are open to games that are not open to cinema, and vice versa? What have practitioners in each medium learned from those of the other, and have some of these lessons perhaps been misapplied? All of these questions and more will be fair game for the investigations ahead, which will consist of an examination of films alongside games—including entries from the Uncharted franchise, the Half-Life franchise, and horror games such as the Resident Evil series).

Sample syllabi of courses designed, but not yet taught

“New Media Communities and the Politics of Speech.”

Course Description:
Questions as to the politics of expression on the internet have often clustered around issues of intellectual property, from issues of piracy, transformative works & cultural remixing, and the future of knowledge work in an era where “information wants to be free.” This course, however, takes a slightly different angle, examining the ways in which new media communities construct new norms around political speech, the etiquette of criticism, and conceptions of freedom of expression. What has been the place of social media in the recent political polarization of the American public? Has the logic of “trolling” infected our political sphere? What sorts of new conceptions about the public sphere are created when the new spaces in which the public can gather and exchange ideas—Twitter, Facebook, Reddit—are no longer public spaces, but privately-owned servers? Do internet-based fan communities inevitably turn toxic, and, if so, why? Where did the internet’s problems with racism, misogyny and harassment stem from, and will it ever outgrow them? Drawing readings from a mixture of academic literature and contemporary journalism, this course is devoted to examining recent events to answer questions such as these.

  • Link to PDF of proposed syllabus
  • Intermediate-level undergraduate course, designed as an elective in a Communication department
  • Based around an eleven-week quarter
  • This course was pitched as a Winter or Spring 2017 quarter elective for the DePaul University Communication department

“Genre Across Cinema and Videogames.”

Course Description:
Cinema and videogames are two moving-image-based media, and, especially over the past two decades, each has been credited with influencing the other. This course will investigate the raw materials and basic forms at the disposal of videogame developers and filmmakers, taking a specific look at how genre manifests itself across both forms. How do differences in how each medium present space, time, and action complicate their engagement with popular genres? What aesthetic effects are open to games that are not open to cinema, and vice versa? What can the successes in each medium tell us about the enduring popularity of certain generic forms? Through hands-on examination of examples in both media, this course dives deep into issues of adaptation, technological evolution, and the future of popular mass media.

  • Link to PDF of proposed syllabus
  • Intermediate-level undergraduate course, designed as an elective in a Communication department
  • Based around an eleven-week quarter
  • This course was pitched as a Winter or Spring 2017 quarter elective for the DePaul University Communication department

“Topics in New Media and New Media Theory.” 

Course Description:
This course presents a survey of some of the major issues in new media studies and new media theory, with a strong focus on the place of technological change on cinema and neighboring moving-image media such as videogames and internet-based video. How has the evidential status of photography shifted in the digital era? How have audiences’ and theorists’ conceptions of cinema evolved as it is moved from a photographic medium to one distributed via digital means, and increasingly dominated by computer animation? How have digital technologies impacted both film production and distribution? What has their impact on fan cultures been? Now that the utopian rhetoric that positioned social media such as Twitter as an emancipatory political tool has cooled, how can we analyze the effects it has had on the reception of popular culture, and in particular the migration of political critique of culture from the academy to the internet? What is the future of the analysis and critique of popular culture in an era filled with disruptive technologies, precarious employment for critics of all stripes, and the emergence of the crowdfunding model as an alternative to traditional publishing? These are among the major issues that will animate this class, which will blend the academic voices of figures such as Marshall McLuhan, Laura Mulvey, Henry Jenkins, Janet Murray, and Ian Bogost with contemporary essayists working on the edges of academia and on the front lines of new models of criticism.

  • Link to PDF of proposed syllabus
  • Introductory or intermediate-level undergraduate large lecture course, designed as a broad survey course in a Film Studies or Media Studies department
  • Based around a fifteen-week semester

“Seeing Expertise in Contemporary Visual Media” 

Course Description:
What is the effect of expertise upon perception? Do experts see (or hear) the world in different ways than others, as they attune themselves to salient features others cannot grasp? This course examines ways in which expertise is represented, mediated, or—in the case of interactive media— offered up to participants across a variety of contemporary image-based media, from the moving images of cinema to the simulated words of games. Along the way, we will dive into classic and contemporary theories of expertise in phenomenology, cognitive science, and the philosophy of mind, with a special eye towards issues of embodiment, situatedness, and the outer possibilities of perception and consciousness.

Courses for which I have served as a teaching assistant

“Framing, Re-framing, and Un-framing Cinema.”
University of Chicago, Autumn 2016.

  • Mixed advanced undergraduate/Ph.D. seminar in Cinema and Media Studies and offered through the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, taught by Professor Tom Gunning in collaboration with digital artists Paul Kaiser and Marc Downie of OpenEndedGroup.
  • Duties included contributing to the design and documentation of a Javascript-based machine-vision-based video analysis tool, and monitoring regular labs to help students machine-vision-aided video essays

“The Postwar American Avant-Garde Film.”
University of Chicago, Winter 2015.

  • Mixed intermediate undergraduate/M.A./Ph.D. lecture course in the Cinema and Media Studies department, taught by Professor Tom Gunning
  • Duties included holding regular undergraduate sections, delivering written critiques of undergraduate students’ coursework, advising on undergraduate grading, and maintaining course website
  • Guest lectured for one class session, on the found-material cinema of Janie Geiser, Lewis Klahr, and Phil Solomon

“Acting in Cinema.”
University of Chicago, Spring 2012.

  • Mixed advanced undergraduate/M.A./Ph.D. lecture course in the Cinema and Media Studies department, taught by Visiting Professor James Naremore
  • Duties included holding regular undergraduate sections, delivering written critiques of undergraduate students’ coursework, advising on undergraduate grading, and maintaining course website

“Cinema, Play, and Modernity.”
University of Chicago, Spring 2012.

  • Mixed advanced undergraduate/M.A./Ph.D. seminar in the Cinema and Media Studies department, taught by Assistant Professor Xinyu Dong
  • Duties included delivering written critiques on the coursework of both undergraduate and M.A. students, advising on undergraduate and M.A. student grading, and maintaining course website

“The French New Wave.”
University of Chicago, Winter 2011.

  • Mixed intermediate undergraduate/M.A./Ph.D. lecture course in the Cinema and Media Studies department, taught by Assistant Professor Jennifer Wild
  • Duties included holding regular undergraduate sections, delivering written critiques of undergraduate students’ coursework, advising on undergraduate grading, and maintaining course website
  • Guest lectured for one class session, on the films of Agnès Varda
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