As promised, here are some reading tips and/or class discussion topics that you might use this week while I am gallivanting around with Barack. At least, that’s what I assume I’ll be doing in DC. Remember: attendance this week is required and it will be taken!

I am NOT requesting that you go through all (or any) of this. I am simply providing it to give you guys something to work from, especially if you get stuck sitting in a big circle staring at each other.

Devereaux (female)
I include this reading in the course at this time for two key reasons. First, it is the first proper example of criticism itself (as opposed to theory about criticism) that we have seen so far. Second, in her reading of Triumph, she avails of all four of the perspectives (creator, artifact, etc.).

  • Are any of Devereaux’s claims “explanations”? Why or why not? Could any of Devereaux’s claims be scientifically validated?
  • I chose the Devereaux reading in part because she seemed at different times to make use of all four perspectives (creator, artifact, etc.) in her critique. Where are some hotspots for each perspective, and what does she get (i.e., what benefit) from working within that perspective?
  • Be specific: what parts or claim(s) in the Devereaux reading could not possibly be deemed “scientific” and yet nonetheless seemed to be good in some way? In what way were they good (interesting, insightful, etc.)?
  • Did Devereaux make any claims that struck you as unconvincing? What where they and why?

Shaw (male)
I include this reading because it applies some of the theories we have been reading about in the abstract to a specific art: film. It also introduces you to some major theories of film from the 20th century.

  • How does Munsterberg’s theory of mimesis (i.e., the imitation theory of art) relate to Plato’s? Aristotle’s?
  • Eisenstein’s theory of montage is one of the cornerstones of all film theory. As you will recall, Crampton-Smith in her introduction to HCI asked where HCI’s Eisenstein, where HCI’s montage might be found. Does Eisenstein’s theory of montage have any relevance for HCI? Be specific and concrete—don’t try to answer for the whole field, but rather discuss specific interactions.
  • What is the relationship between Bazin’s notion of “realism” and other theories of mimesis we have heard? How does Triumph of the Will figure into Bazin’s theory? Can workplace productivity software be described in terms of “realism”? If so, what does that mean?
  • Mulvey’s notion of cinema as “scopophilia” has been highly influential in film studies. Beyond the obvious (e.g., portrayal of women and girls in video games), in what ways might HCI be considered scopophiliac? Could one say that user research has some of the same characteristics Mulvey attributes to film?

Bardzell (jury is still out)
I include this reading because it is my most recent work in this space and represents what I believe and hope to teach with this class. It also (obviously) makes heavy use of readings (Eaton, Eldridge, Dickie, Devereaux) that you have now also read, so hopefully you find some constructive reinforcement in that.

  • What exactly is “criticism”?
  • This essay hinges on two theories of truth. What are these theories? How do they relate to scientific versus critical knowledge production?
  • Why do I argue that the pragmatic theory of truth is more compatible with design?
  • What are the five claims of analytic aesthetics and critical theory that I outline? What were people’s reactions to these claims? Was anyone surprised by any of them? How doe these five claims relate to good science?
  • Watch Lumino together in class and talk about it. What are some statements that you can imagine someone making from each of the four perspectives? What do you think of the claims I made about it in my sample criticisms? (You are allowed and encouraged to disagree with me!)
  • Try a different example. Pull up the cover of Nirvana’s album, Nevermind (it’s the baby in the water). As a class, discuss that picture first from each of the four perspectives. Next, see what happens when you start to combine claims from each of the perspectives—where does it lead? What does that album cover “mean”?

Reading Strategies
I add this to the list of possible to-dos because a number of you are thinking and talking about it on the blog.

  • As a class, see if you can paraphrase the CORE argument of each of this week’s readings. Your paraphrase should be a 3-7 line bullet list or a 4-5 sentence paragraph.
  • Discuss how each of take notes on the readings
  • Identify what you thought were some key definitions of the readings. See if everyone in the class got the most important definitions.
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