Author Archives: Seth Graves

Good Google

Last week, I had drinks with a close college friend who had come into town from San Francisco, where he works for a popular publication covering the digital media industry. This prompted a healthy debate over how much information we grant digital spaces access to—how much we allow to be extracted from our own digital lives, so to speak.

I have grown increasingly fearful of allowing digital spaces have access to my information following a variety of reports about the extent to which companies like Facebook or Google use that information. I’ve also become increasingly skeptical of Google as a company since it began to invest into defense technology and vie for defense contracts.

When the question comes up on my i–Device, asking me whether I am willing to grant access to my information, photos, whatehavenots, I say no.

He says yes.

His explanation was multifold, but it predominantly rested in the idea that these extractions are for the primary purpose of using metadata to better a product and create innovation. He suggested that his experience of permitting the sharing of his digital information with companies like Google was something thrilling to him—that “it was as though the company itself were giving me the opportunity to see a piece of the future,” he noted.

Wow. I’ll leave the implications of how excited he is about “seeing the future” aside.

Are we not afraid of Google? I’m afraid of any company that has this much social, cultural, and economic capital; that has the economic means to vacuum 19th century’s literature, as we have discussed; that has the symbolic capital to leave newspaper readers complaining that there aren’t enough world-renowned jam bands playing at their holiday parties; that has the power to rearrange the distribution of search results willy-nilly with little recourse but changes to its own profitability in ad revenue; that makes a car that can run without a person in it; that has invested so much in artificial intelligence in celebration of “the solidarity” (imagine this paired with Google Car—I had a class of middle school students imagine this once, and they crafted the plot of a television show about a sad car rampage).

I’m afraid of a company that does the above and houses the official mantra “don’t be evil.”

I’m afraid of any company that has a slogan WHOSE PRIMARY AUDIENCE IS ITSELF.

Kranich talks about enclosures. Levine, the relationship between corporations and the commons. Google enables commons spaces to thrive for now, but as Kranish notes various enclosures have been placed upon our access to information, particularly scholarly information. I am afraid of any company that can so easy generate a panoptic, that already colludes with the military industrial complex, and that can iron first or vacation gift shop clampy-style (yeah, you know the grabber) our access to information, including academic work and library sources, so easily.

What do you think? What do we do?

Are you ready for Google use this on your brain?


On “Planned Obsolescence”

Two concerns of Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence interested me most:

1. Quality Control and Risk-Taking in a “Like-Aggregate” Online Culture
My roommate is a web content writer. In particular, he ghost-blogs for doctors to make sure their names appear atop Google results. This has resulted in both a work-at-home income stream that provides him with flexible hours to write fiction and in daily conversations between us (we share an at-home office) that go something like [Seth: “What are you working on?” Roommate: “Five articles on vasectomies, then I go back to that Calvino Prize piece”].

Similarly, my class often talks about how media consumption, cultural literacy, taste in general is attained, to which I generally ask, “How do you learn about the existence of media that someone you know has not already consumed?” This year, I’m one for three on the class bringing up journalism (career-wise, about four for twenty-five). Students seem to be aware of the mass-approval/view count/”like”-aggregated model of media priority, but they rarely seem to take issue with it. When I press the issue, they often press back. To them, this is a question about the tree in the abandoned forest.

So Fitzpatrick responds here to the concerns of quality control and “significance” determination within new academic models (page 139: “the mushiness of popularity as an arbiter of relevance”), but I’m not sure if she proposes any clear way to conquer what seems to be a very steep hill of this, and increasingly engrained way of looking at all media, if some of the models she suggests become the U-Publishing MO.

2. The University and In-House Scholarship
Fitzpatrick also discusses a need to reconsider the audience and distributor for academic scholarship, as she addresses the value of considering one’s own school contingency in writing and publishing. I’m concerned about a potential side effect of “bringing it home,” which is that it could homogenize departments around specific writing cultures and attitudes in scholarship. Is the idea of “dissensus” enough to combat this potential problem? To a certain degree, schools maintain specific scholarly identities related to the faculty, research, initiatives, etc. of the school, but to what degree does the suggestion to keep work within a institutional system from which it is made (and then move it into the global foray) serve as a limiter as much as it does an enabler? Fitzpatrick suggests that such in-house behaviors could provide a publicity role to publishing practices (173).

Some thoughts,


Annotated Bibliography—#gamergate, sexism, gaming literacies

By: Seth Graves

The following annotated bibliography represents my research to-date on gender performance and discrimination in video games and online spaces. I am working on a paper that discuss the teaching of “#gamergate” in the composition classroom.

Alexander, Jonathan. “Gaming, Student Literacies, and the Composition Classroom: Some Possibilities for Transformation.” College Composition and Communication 61.1 (2009): 35–63. Print.

Alexander provides case study interviews with two students to discuss how gaming can result in the development of “high level literacy skills,” including “literacy reflectivity, trans-literacy connections, collaborative writing, multicultural literacy awareness, and critical literacy development” (37). He extends the work by authors on gaming literacy, such as the influential James Paul Gee, as well as compositionist scholars on the role of gaming in education, to discuss the role of the student in their own perceptions of the value of gaming and development. Students in the interviews discuss the textual and intertextual interactions of their gaming habits. Alexander suggests compositionists “should seriously consider using complex computer games as primary ‘texts’ in composition courses as a way to engage with students a more provocative and productive examination of contemporary literacy practices” (37). This text directly speaks to my goals to view important roles of game studies in the composition classroom.

Bogost, Ian. “The Rhetoric of Video Games.” In The Ecology of Games: Connecting Yough, Games and Learning, ed. Katie Salen, 117–140. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008.

Here Bogost, a heavily cited scholar on video games and gaming literacies, discuss the rhetorical power of games and their ability to “make claims about the world.” When games do make rhetorical arguments about the world, society, or other strata, they do so “not with oral speech, nor in writing, nor even with images. Rather…with processes” (125). Therein, video games present a potentially powerful, procedural rhetoric that allows players to now only use the powers of imagination and fantasy, but also to consider real-world conflicts and the commentaries that ludic video game realities can make on these conflicts. This, like some other works in my bibliography here, speaks to the rhetorical power of video game and justifies their investigation in academic scholarship.

En, Boka, Michael En, and David Griffiths. “Gay Stuff and Guy Stuff: The Construction of Sexual Identities in Sidebars on Reddit.” Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network 6.1 (2013): n. pag. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.

En, En, and Griffiths discuss here how sexual identities are constructed, “seen—and thereby made” on the online community reddit. The article discusses normative and non-normative behaviors represented in the reddit sidebar. Ultimately, the authors suggest that though the sidebar creates an open, normative-busting space, the space is then re-normativized by the social pressures of reddit users, whose isolating behaviors exercise pressured power over “redditors.” This article speaks directly to #gamergate issues and gender constructions, and constitutes one of the closest pieces of scholarship to direct discussion of #gamergate available in academic publication (I have yet to find an peer-reviewed piece on #gamergate).

Gee, James Paul. “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.” Comput. Entertain. 1.1 (2003): 20–20. ACM Digital Library. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.

Gee argues that “good games” promote strong learning principles, a claim supported by laboratory science. Thinking about games invites making active connections to other “games, media, text, and the world” (1). Good games present worlds in which players seek, reason with, and apply information. Whereas the education system often operates “at the lowest common denominator,” video games can present opportunities to work out of the preexisting competencies of the player. Games can also provide tiered motivation to perpetuate the learning process. Gee highlights the distinct educational role of gaming.

Greenfield, Patricia Marks. El Niño y los medios de comunicación: Los efectos de la televisión, video-juegos y ordenadores. Ediciones Morata (1985).

This book exists as part of a mid-80s “Bruner Series.” Here Greenfield argues for constructive uses of new media in the classroom and home settings. The text is particularly critical of those who overly warn against new media instead of seeing value in the integration of visual and digital technology in educational development and cultural literacy.

Kirkland, Ewan. “Masculinity in Video Games: The Gendered Gameplay of Silent Hill.” Camera Obscura 24.2 71 (2009): 161–183. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.

Kirkland discusses the 2001 video game Silent Hill 2, developed by Konami, to discuss gender representations in the “survival horror” video game genre. Kirkland argues that the game presents particularly “complex questions concerning player agency, the structuring of gameplay, and the gendering of the role that video-game players are invited to perform,” including a seminal moment of the game where the playable protagonist/avatar, James, must kill his wife without player or protagonist choice (162). Kirkland writes, “attentive players will have come increasingly to suspect that the protagonist, who appears so devoted to his dead wife, constitutes the video-game equivalent of an unreliable narrator” (162). The player can choose between turning the game off, and making meaningless the many hours played to reach the end, or executing the game’s intended finality. Kirkland suggests that gamer perception contributes to whether this violence is seen as a nihilistic, self-conscious commentary or as a more objectifying, misogynist final act. Ultimately the game is representative of the complex questions of how gender is performed in video game genres.

Leonard, David J. “Not a Hater, Just Keepin’ It Real The Importance of Race- and Gender-Based Game Studies.” Games and Culture 1.1 (2006): 83–88. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.

Leonard discusses race and gender erasure in video games and video game studies, and the values of discussing race and gender tropes in video games (and limited presentations of race and gender) in scholarship and in the classroom. He suggests that oversimplified notions of the roles of videogames can leave individuals to write off analysis of underlying tropes or “serious inquiry into their racial [and gender-based] content and context” (84). As of the time of publication of this article, 2005, according to the work of Children Now, only 17% of player-controlled video game characters are female, even less than the number of nonhuman playable characters (19%). Games, he argues, can reinforce White male privilege and fantasy through play.

Sanford, Kathy, and Leanna Madill. “Resistance through Video Game Play: It’s a Boy Thing.” Canadian Journal of Education / Revue canadienne de l’éducation 29.1 (2006): 287–306. JSTOR. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.

Sanford and Madill discuss how video games present a space where boys can perform sexism without parental or institutional oversight. Left unchecked, this can lead male gamers to see other forms of literacy, such as understanding of the importance or role of literature, as overly feminine; video games can therein validate sexist masculinities and performances of resistance and silence opportunities for thoughtful “worldview” critique.

Schleiner, Anne-Marie. “Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons? Gender and Gender-Role Subversion in Computer Adventure Games.” Leonardo 34.3 (2001): 221–226. MIT Press Journals. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.

Schleiner comments on the role of videogame culture among youth in “reorganizing their worldviews” (221). She discusses the absence of videogame discussion in scholarship through the mid-1990s, as scholars either wrote off the meda form, the pedagogical use of it, or the value of it in society and academic scholarship in particular. Schleiner briefly outlines “Before Tomb Raider” as a period, before she then enters into discussion of the popular video game series Tomb Raider and its protagonist, Lara Croft, whom the author refers to as a “female frankenstein” that presents a mechanized, objectified, unrealistic female body. Tomb Raider becomes a game “where boys and men are permitted to develop unrealistic ideals of female body type, or to dispense with relating to human women whatsoever, replacing them with easily controlled virtual female bots” (223). However, alternatively, male players also “perform” the avatar role of Croft, constructing her multiplicitously as (in addition to objectified female) drag queen, femme fatale, role model, and “vehicle for the queer female gaze” in her inhabitants of the “monstrous” (Here she cites individual works by Butler and Halberstam on “the dangerous woman” and binary-busting “monster-genders”.).

Taylor, T. L. “Multiple Pleasures Women and Online Gaming.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 9.1 (2003): 21–46. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.

Using a combination of data, Taylor assesses motives for female participation in online gaming spaces, particularly massively multiplayer online role-playing environments (or MMPORGs); research cited in the article suggests that women now make up about 50% of the online gamer community.  Taylor believes demographic statistics helps to denote why women have gravitated toward this type of gaming (Here she makes her goals distinct from scholarship like Schleiner’s on Lara Croft, which she mentions by name.). MMPORGs serve as spaces that, more so than other video game genres, rely on community development, participation in community discourse, dialogue and interpersonal interaction as means to success, and avatar development as a means of performing individuality. Taylor presents games that take on “gender-neutral design goals,” such as Everquest, as well as games that do present misogynies that women are inclined to play as a way to participate “despite the game” (40).

Zafra, Remedios. “Las mujeres en Internet ¿immigrantes, exiliadas, turistas…?” ¿Todas Las Mujeres Podemos Género, Desarrollo, y Multiculturalidad. Publicacions de la Universitat Jaume (2007): 48–60. Web. 1 Nov. 2014.

In this conference paper republished in book chapter form, Remedios Zafra, of the University of Seville, discusses the cyberfeminist movement, women working on the fridge worlds of the internet, the internet as a queer and enabling space to battle sexism—yet the outsider or “entering tourist” role of the woman in the space. The “utopia” view of the internet proved to be a myth as the space asserted itself as a place dominated, read, and written by men.


State of the Field: Comp/Rhet

By: Seth Graves


Composition Pedagogy
College Composition and Communication Journal
Writing on the Edge (still active, though the website hasn’t been updated since 2012)
College English
The Writing Instructor
Written Communication
Composition Studies

Philosophy and Rhetoric
JAC: A Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics
Rhetoric Society Quarterly
Itineration: Cross-Disciplinary Studies in Rhetoric, Media, and Culture

JCLL: Journal of College Literacy and Learning
Journal of Academic Language and Learning

WPA and Writing Centers
WPA Journal
Writing Center Journal
Praxis: A Writing Center Journal


Composition Pedagogy/Community
A New Writing Classroom: Listening, Motivation, and Habits of Mind, Patrick Sullivan, Utah State University 2014
Adult Literacy and American Identity: The Moonlight Schools and Americanization Programs, Samantha NeCamp, Southern Illinois University Press 2014
Embracing Writing: Ways to Teach Reluctant Writers in Any College Course, Gary R. Hafer and Maryellen Weimer (forward), Wiley 2014
Reclaiming English Language Arts Methods Courses: Critical Issues and Challenges for Teacher Educators in Top-Down Times, ed. Jory Brass and Allen Webb, Routledge 2014
Upsetting Composition Commonplaces, Ian Barnard, Utah State University 2014
Race and Writing Assessment (Studies in Composition and Rhetoric), ed. Asao B. Inoue and Mya Poe, Peter Lang International Academic Publishers 2012 (CCCC Outstanding Book Award 2014)
Writing Groups for Doctoral Education and Beyond: Innovations in practice and theory, ed. Claire Aitchison and Cally Guerin, Routledge 2014
After Pedagogy: The Experience of Teaching (CCCC/NCTE Studies in Writing & Rhetoric) (Cccc Studies in Writing & Rhetoric), Paul Lynch, NCTE 2013

Writing Craft
Writing in Social Spaces: A social processes approach to academic writing (Research into Higher Education), Rowena Murray, Routledge 2014
How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times, Roy Peter Clark, Little, Brown and Company 2014

The Other Side of Pedagogy: Lacan’s Four Discourses and the Development of the Student Writer,  T. R. Johnson, SUNY Press 2014
A Language and Power Reader: Representations of Race in a “Post-Racist” Era, Robert Eddy and Victor Villanueva, Utah State University 2013
Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being (Pitt Comp Literacy Culture), Thomas Rickert, University of Pittsburgh Press 2013 (CCCC Outstanding Book Award 2014)
Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents (Sign, Storage, Transmission), Lisa Gitelman, Duke University Press 2014
Multimodal Epistemologies: Towards an Integrated Framework (Routledge Studies in Multimodality), ed. Arianna Maiorani and Christine Christie, Routledge 2014
Language: A Reader for Writers, Gita DasBender, Oxford University Press 2013
Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing; Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, Zander Cannon; Bedford/St. Martin’s 2013

Writing Centers/WPA
Talk about Writing: The Tutoring Strategies of Experienced Writing Center Tutors, by Jo Mackiewicz and Isabelle Kramer Thompson, Routledge 2015

Digital Humanities
Participatory Composition: Video Culture, Writing, and Electracy, Sarah J. Arroyo  (Author), Cortney Kimoto (Smethurst) (Contributor), Southern Illinois University Press 2013
Debates in the Digital Humanities, Matthew K. Gold, University of Minnesota Press 2012 (:-D)

CCCC Annual Convention
AWP: Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference
MLA Annual Convention
IWCA: International Writing Centers Association
ASHR: American Society for the History of Rhetoric
CWPA: Conference of the Council of Writing Program Administrators
Thomas R. Watson Conference on Rhetoric, Louisville
NCPTW: National Conference of Peer Tutors of Writing
NEMLA: Northeast MLA Conference
National Conference of Teachers, NCTE
College English Association Conference
American Studies Association Conference
AEJMC: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

Pittsburgh Series in Composition, Literacy, and Culture
Lauer Series in Rhetoric and Composition
Options for Teaching, MLA
Refiguring English Studies, NCTE
Studies in Writing and Rhetoric, NCTE
Theory and Research into Practice, NCTE
Teacher’s Introduction Series, NCTE
Reference Guides to Rhetoric and Composition, WAC Clearinghouse, Colorado State
The Bedford/St. Martin’s Series in Rhetoric and Composition
The Cross Current Series, Heinemann
Postmillennial Pop, NYU Press
Rhetoric and Democratic Deliberation, Penn State Press
Rhetoric and Society, Cornell University Press
Princeton Series in Culture, Power, History
Philosophy/Communication, Purdue University Press
Approaches to Language and Literacy Research, Teachers College Press
Iowa Series in Creativity and Writing
Digital Humanities Series, University of Michigan Press
Series on English for Academic and Professional Purposes, University of Michigan Press
Writers on Writing, University of Michigan Press
Topics in the Digital Humanities, University of Illinois Press
The History of Communication, University of Illinois Press
Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing, University of Chicago Press

Composition Program Speaker Series, Virginia Tech
Rhet/Comp Speaker Series, Florida State University
Illinois State Visiting Speaker Series
Digital Writing and Research Speaker Series, University of Texas at Austin
The Mina Shaughnessy Speaker Series, CUNY-wide
Rhetorical Listening and Composition Speaker Series, Syracuse University
Writing Program Speaker Series, Ball State University
Victor M. Bearg Science and Humanities Scholars Speaker Series, Carnegie Mellon University
Culbertson Speaker Series, Indiana University
Composition and Rhetoric Lecture Series at Kansas University
Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics Speaker Series at UT Knoxville

Roy Peter Clark, Poynter Institute
Ted Underwood
Brian McNely (U Kentucky)
Ann Larson, “ex-composition” scholar, CUNY Grad 2010
Kathleen Fitzpatrick (MLA/NYU)
College Ready Writing (Inside Higher Ed, Lee Elaine Skallerup)
Rhetoric Society of America Blog
Great list of comp/rhet blogs here

Roy Peter Clark
Adam Banks
Ellen Schendel
Kathleen Fitzpatrick

4 C’s
National Center for Literacy Education
The National Writing Project
The Institute of Play
NYT Learning Network
Kairos Journal