Prototyping and Pedagogy
in the Humanities

Jentery Sayers | UVic | Maker Lab | @jenterysayers
Stanford University | 24 April 2015
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Teaching at UVic

DHum 150:

DHum 250:

DHum 350:

Example Work:

English 466:

English 507:

Example Work:


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Scholarship of
Teaching and Learning


Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities (MLA Books):

Prototyping and Pedagogy

Transduction Literacy
Remaking as Method
Creative or Built Humanities
Speculation over Representation

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Today: Four Examples

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McPherson on Media Studies + Digital Humanities

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Example 1: Hardware

Building, Bending, Hacking, Modding (see Collins)
Informed by Platform Studies + Media Art
Invested in Interface and Embodiment
Glitches Are Features, Not Exceptions

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"Glitch Controls"

By Nina Belojevic + Jon Johnson
Modified NES Console and SNES Controller
Circuit Bending as Primary Technique
Critique of Screen Essentialism + Immaterial Labor

Rather than engaging videogames primarily through the screen,
hardware hacking offers a tacit form of interaction
often resistant to symbolic or graphical logic.

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Hardware Pedagogy

Demands Attention to Manufacture (see Belojevic)
Prompts Tangible Awareness of Audience (see Johnson)
Learning through Repair (see Rosner)
Ground Theory in Material Particulars (see Kirschenbaum)

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Example 2: Simulations

Rehabilitate or Mimic Events
Informed by Software + Information Studies (see Fuller)
Invested in Abstraction and the Materiality of Form
Experiment with Procedures in Real Time

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"From Grain to Glitch"

By Patrick Close
Archival Work Based in Microsound and Noise
Prototype in Max/MSP (Visual Programming)
Simulate Iannis Xenakis’s "Sound Particles" (1954-1970s)

Continuous movement from the ephemeral click to the stochastic mass
to the pure sine tone and finally to white noise (and back again)

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Image and Max patch care of Patrick Close

Simulation Pedagogy

Demands a Productive Reduction (see McCarty)
Students Remediate and Teach Concepts (see Drucker et al.)
Learning through Process Modeling (see Close)
Understand Systems by Reproducing Relations (see Molleindustria)

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Example 3: Indie Games

Games Are Zines (see Anthropy)
Informed by Design + Cultural Studies
Invested in Games as Writing, Rhetoric, Gifts + Biography
Experiment with DIY/DIO Production and Publication

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By Danielle Morgan
Videogame Prototype in Axure
Game Manual in Ink and Paper
Play with the Concept of "Geometric Ethnography"

In a world of right angles, you search for acuteness.

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Indie Game Pedagogy

Demands Creative and Conceptual Thinking (see Flanagan)
Approach Games as Values (see kopas)
Learning through Design Workshops (see Fullerton)
Test How Processes Are Persuasive (see Bogost)

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Example 4: Design Fiction

Enact a Technocultural Future (Dystopia, Utopia, or...)
Informed by Design + Film Studies (see Sterling)
Invested in Performing or Rehearsing Possibilities
Speculate about (Unrecognized) Wants, Needs, and Uses

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By Nina Belojevic + Jon Johnson
Wireframe in Balsamiq
Prototype in Paper and Video
Use Joyce to Parody the Attention Economy

Interactions encourage audiences to become aware of
how gamification renders them productive subjects.

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Video care of Nina Belojevic and Jon Johnson

Design Fiction Pedagogy

Demands Conjectural Criticism (see Kraus)
Imagine Beyond Instrumentalism (see Lukens + DiSalvo)
Create Conditions for Narrative and Experience (see Roesler)
Hermeneut Inhabits the System (see Drucker + Nowviskie)

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Pedagogical Issues

Beyond "Brochure" Humanities (Test Ideas in Things)
Understand "Making" Broadly (Not Only Computational)
Resist "You Must Code" (Design + Writing, Too)
Synthesized Arguments (Not Just Process Documentation)
Determining Foundations (Require a Platform? A Standard?)
The Relevance of Place (Collaborating On- and Offline)
Assessment Across Disciplines (Create a Rubric?)

For more research, see Ball, Kuhn, Selfe, and Vee.

Thank You

Jentery Sayers | UVic | Maker Lab | @jenterysayers
Stanford University | 24 April 2015

Special thanks to:
Mike Widner, Jordan Thomas Chin + Daniel Bush