Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin

Year's Recap

My colleagues have listed their own top picks from this year's array of insights an analyses. You'll notice a few repeats on my list--a sure sign of their success--but I'll admit, choosing a representative sample is a hard task. We should all go back and reread the blog, just in case...

Without further preamble, then, here are my favorite posts of 2014-2015:

Rhiannon's "Taste vs. Enjoyment." I'm sure any grad student will identify with Rhiannon's opening observation that books on her nightstand fall into two piles: "those which we should read and those which we want to read." As someone who also works on less-canonized texts, the "taste vs. enjoyment" tension is particularly fraught--especially because, as Rhiannon says, most of our opinions about "good taste" are really just thin perceptions.

Casey Sloan's "Moving Targets: Player Choice and the Politics of Bioshock: Infinite." Casey guest-wrote this post for me, and I'm delighted to be able to endorse it again. I don't know a lot about video games, but I was totally sold by Casey's reading, which looks at the scripting of the game to explicate "an unwillingness on the part of game's designers to commit to any single motivation for the character." Omitting the nuance in the game's racial politics, she writes, also ignores "the idea that racism in its most insidious form is less about villainy and more about institutionalized, systemic, and normalized violence. Paying attention to how games interpellate players and direct player experience through game elements like choice and decision making can yield rich readings inaccessible through purely literary or cinematic criticism."

Deb Streusand's "Alice or Wonderland: How Visual Representations of a Story Change Over Time." I'll freely admit, Deb's post on Alice cover arts has all the ingredients for catching my attention: children's literature, a current exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center, and a lovely analyis of how cover art reflects the changing values of parents and publishers.

My favorite post to write this year is a tie. I had a great time writing my "Food Porn Roundup: The Seven Deadly Desserts" which explores the dialogue over guilt and sweets. It isn't particularly insightful, but I loved thinking about the seven deadly sins almsot as much as I enjoyed committing all of the food sins on that list. And, as I mentioned above, I'm a sucker for analyses that use the Harry Ransom Center and children's culture, so my other favorite is my very first post for viz., "The Serpent Was a Creeper: Religious Representations of Animals and Humanity in Children's Literature." Any chance I get to expound upon religious adaptation, children's books, or creepy illustrations!

 

That's all, folks. Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for the next set of viz. posts in the fall!

 

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