• Disruptive Pedagogy Meets Procedural Rhetoric

    Okay, the title must look like a horrible Hollywood-style “high concept” description of … well, something. Something awful, probably. Or something fun.

    I hope the latter. Can we play with the core ideas of our disciplines in a way that is unavoidable, that forces students (or others we engage) to think about those core ideas? There are two concepts dancing around the edge of Digital Humanities that might help. On the one hand are the ideas Mills Kelly presents in his talk about disruptive pedagogy (see the notes taken at his session at THATCamp CHNM last year), where he argues that it is very useful to disrupt normal classroom discourse in ways that deliberately play with the sacred underpinnings of a discipline/field. Kelly has a number of interesting applications, not least of which is his historical hoax class that has become famous in the past few years (and gotten him a lifetime ban from Wikipedia).

    The other useful concept I grab is the argument of Ian Bogost about the procedural rhetoric of games, the argument that a computer algorithm pushes players to encounter a certain form of reality that can persuade. This has become famous in game studies — see for example Gail Carmichael’s application of procedural rhetoric to analyzing the game Agricola. But it might help us play with the idea of procedural rhetoric more broadly, either as games used in the classroom to disrupt discourse or as the broader rhetorical consequences of classroom structure.

    In any case, the session would have less yakking than this entry.


  1. I like this session idea a lot. My favorite example of procedural rhetoric (though non-digital, in this case) is from Brenda Brathwaite’s TedX Phoenix talk on Games for a Change. Bogost provides some good examples in Persuasive Games, but I thought her example of the Middle Passage game she designed with her daughter to be a really powerful way of describing what Bogost means by procedural rhetorics (though she doesn’t use his terminology). In any case, if you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend taking a look. tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxPhoenix-Brenda-Brathwaite-G. The whole talk is good, but the section I’m referring to is from 4:30 to 7:45. I look forward to hearing more about your ideas this weekend.

  2. Mark H. Long says:

    Great proposal. This touches on a few different aspects of the DH world that I find most compelling. I look forward to hearing what you and others have to offer in this session.

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