Module UXS-3068:
Wandering

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Melissa Kagen

Overall aims and purpose

What does it mean to be a walking body in a world? What kind of world? What kind of body? What can the act of walking do? This course looks at walking as a performative act and considers 20th and 21st century responses to these questions in philosophy, theater, literature, video games, and protest movements. Some of the class periods will be spent on our feet, walking around campus while discussing texts, playing games, and enacting the theories we've read about, exploring the many modalities of walking: aesthetic, political, ethical, and creative. We will connect the threads between Baudelaire and #Gamergate, Virginia Woolf and Journey, the revolution of 1968 and #Black Lives Matter. We will read digressive texts, grapple with philosophies from Walter Benjamin to Congressman John Lewis, and play Walking Simulator video games. In addition to reading and writing responses to the texts, we will create our own performances, protests and walking sims.

This is a third year elective module designed for students who have taken previous courses in ludology (UXS 1800 or UXS 2041), although there are no formal prerequisites.

Course content

The course will begin with an examination of historical wandering and flânerie, exploring the intersections between walking, wandering, boredom, wasting time, and capitalism. During these first several weeks, we will also study détournement and how the Situationists and the revolutionaries of 1968 used wandering as a political strategy (including playing a live action RPG in which students will try to détourne the revolution).

Next, we will spend several weeks considering philosophical questions having to do with determinism, digression, and wandering in literature. Do our wanderings have meaning? Are we actually going anywhere? We will use this time to analyse digressive techniques in literature from Jonathan Sterne, Virginia Woolf, and the twitterverse, and then apply said techniques to students' own creative writing.

Then, we will consider walking bodies as political and politicized identities. How does gender and sexual identity affect walking, wandering, and gaming? How does racial identity change the dynamics of walking and protest? How do protest marches elide street and stage? How do physical limitations and disabilities affect the wanderer?

Finally, we will conclude with a week of meditative walking and discussion. Walking is often construed as peaceful in videogames and in protest movements. How is walking a way towards peace?

Throughout the semester, students will each present a ~10 minute performance piece during class. The dates for these performances will be assigned during the first week. Students will choose their performance date, as their performance should comment on or correspond to the topic of that week. Other assignments (like the videogame design, the protest design, and the final project) will be due at predetermined dates in the semester.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

40 or above. Indicates knowledge of key areas/principles only, weaknesses in understanding of main areas, limited evidence of background study, no original interpretation, only major links between topics are described, limited problem solving, many weaknesses in performance, limited creative communication

good

50 or above. Indicates strong knowledge of key areas/principles, understanding of theoretical underpinnings, evidence of background study, limited original interpretation, well known links between topics are described, problems addressed by existing methods/approaches, good performance skills, some creative communication.

excellent

70 or above. Indicates comprehensive knowledge, detailed understanding, extensive background study, original interpretation, new links between topics are developed, new approach to a problem, excellent presentation and performance skills, and very creative communication

Learning outcomes

  1. Produce creative works of writing, game design, performance, and protest, developing their ideas across multiple genres.

  2. Analyse the intersection of political, literary, and practical ideas, interpreting how protest movements and artistic expressions intersect and diverge.

  3. Critically evaluate their own and their classmates' work, offer constructive feedback, and improve based on said feedback.

  4. Explain the creative potential of wandering by means of pedestrian-based philosophies and artistic works of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION short assignments building up to final project

Students will have smaller assignments that will build towards the final project. These assignments may include work such as a designed and executed pedestrian performance, a protest design, a walking simulator videogame design. There will be 3 short assignments total, each of which will be worth 20% of the final grade. Performances will be ~10 minutes long, protest designs will be ~1000 words, videogame designs will be ~1000 words plus visuals.

60
Written assignment, including essay Final Project

A final project, designed in consultation with the instructor, that builds on previous work, such as a full performance piece, a fully staged protest, a playable videogame, or a piece of creative writing.

40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study

Individual work on performance preparation, game design, protest design, reading, and testing

134
Seminar

Group discussions of readings, games, performances, and protests. In-class performances and feedback on those works will also occur during this time.

44
Practical classes and workshops

This will be a forum for students to play games, analyse them, and apply their findings to their own game and protest designs. Activities will vary each week. In about half of the weeks, we will jointly play videogames using the instructor's computer; this will enable students to analyse the gameplay together, collaborate on play decisions and puzzle solutions, and not be required to purchase each game themselves (which would constitute undue financial hardship). In the other weeks, this time will serve as a playtesting and protest-testing workshop for game and protest designs. Students will bring rough drafts at various stages to class and swap their designs with classmates, who will test and critique them.

22

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • An understanding of creative and critical processes, and of the wide range of skills inherent in creative writing. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.1).
  • Artistic engagement and ability to articulate complex ideas in oral and written forms. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to connect creative and critical ideas between and among forms, techniques and types of creative and critical praxis. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Reflective practitioner skills, including awareness of the practice of others in collaborative learning (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Information technology (IT) skills broadly understood and the ability to access, work with and evaluate electronic resources (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).

Resources

Resource implications for students

The only book, game or reading students will have to purchase is Rebecca Solnit's _Wanderlust_. All others are excerpted or already owned by the school.

Reading list

  • Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust
  • Dear Esther (Steam)
  • The Stanley Parable (Steam)
  • Gone Home (Steam)
  • The Path (Steam)
  • Journey (PS3)
  • Everybody's Gone to the Rapture (Steam)
  • A Mis-Guide to Anywhere
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (excerpt)
  • Virginia Woolf, "Street Haunting"
  • Wael Salah Fahmi, "Bloggers' street movement and the right to the city. (Re) claiming Cairo's real and virtual "spaces of freedom""
  • Warsan Shire, "Home"
  • Carvell Wallace, "The Negro Motorist's Green Book and Black America's Perpetual Search for a Home"
  • QWOP
  • Charles Baudelaire, "À une passante"
  • Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (excerpts);
  • Debord & Wolman, "A user's guide to Détournement"
  • Jorge Luis Borges, "The Garden of Forking Paths";
  • Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (excerpts)
  • Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed in Europe (excerpts)
  • Sophie Nield, "Sitting the People: Power, Protest, and Public Space"
  • John Lewis, "The Art & Discipline of Nonviolence"
  • Garnette Cadogan, "Walking While Black"
  • Sarah Jane Cervenak, Wandering (introduction)

Courses including this module