I am headed to sunny Los Angeles to the American Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, November 6-9, 2014. The conference’s general theme is “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain in the Post-American Century.” I am presenting as part of:
Saturday, November 8
8:00 am – 9:45 am
247. Digital Queer Utopias: Gaming, Performance, Pleasure
Westin Bonaventure, Santa Monica A (L3)PANELISTS:Ed Chamberlain, University of Washington, Tacoma (WA)Edmond Y. Chang, Drew University (NJ)Kimberly Hall, University of California, Riverside (CA)COMMENT:Lauren Kaminsky, Harvard University (MA)
The emphasis in critical queer theory on the historical struggle of queer subjects for legibility, agency, and equality in the future often obscures the importance of pleasure, of playful forms of intimacy in the present that make such future attachments possible. Similarly, discourse about digital practices is often marked by a dialectical tension between the pleasures of practice and an anxiety about the effects of such practices. Given the growing ubiquity of online social media, synthetic worlds, and digital games and narratives, this roundtable analyzes queer online possibility and potentiality that critiques the exclusionary practices of mainstream American digital culture, that queers the code in game play and programming, and offers reimagined approaches to new media. In Cruising Utopia, Jose Esteban Munoz argues, “Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present… it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future.” How might we take up the spirit of Munoz’s horizon of queer(ness) in digital spaces, practices, and cultures? Through an analysis of different digital texts/objects/projects that foreground the complicated pleasures of futurity, this roundtable hopes to foreground, extend, and expand the opportunities and futures and pleasures of queer bodies, desires, and technologies.
To address these matters, three researchers will engage in a roundtable by delivering brief provocations concerning the queer digital humanities. The first participant is Ed Chamberlain, and he examines how queer Latina/o writers, including Tatiana de la Tierra, have integrated the imagery of the Internet into narratives that are published in paper-based formats. Chamberlain contends these hybrid forms of expression create spaces that provide a significant, yet limited means for performing social identities and experiencing pleasure. Next, the researcher Edmond Chang asks how digital games might be queer(ed) looking at the ways queer desire and pleasure are designed, played, and recuperated. Video games in many ways are normative and deeply protocological even as games and gamers push the boundaries of content and game play. Chang explores queer potentiality, pleasure, and queergaming fun in games like Mass Effect 3, World of Warcraft, and Gone Home. Finally, the researcher Kimberly Hall explores the dialectic of pleasure and pain that manifests in the social media campaign, It Gets Better. The project houses over 50,000 confessional autobiographical videos, which recount past struggles with bullying, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts in order to demonstrate to at-risk LGBTQ youths that endurance is possible and does give way to a brighter future. Using queer theories of temporality in conjunction with media and performance theories of liveness, Hall asks what kinds of potentially positive communities emerge from a movement so focused on bypassing the present in favor of the future.
Here is my presentation Prezi: