The department of English is pleased to present:
The Critical Race Series Lecture featuring
Jodi A. Byrd (U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
“Playing Stories: Never Alone, Indigeneity, and the Structures of Settler Colonialism"
Many Indigenous writers, artists, and scholars have suggested that videogames might offer important new formats through which to present the multidirectional and embodied narratives embedded within traditional stories. This talk will consider how play, story, and the structures of settler colonialism influence videogames such as Never Alone, a sidescrolling platformer game that Iñupiat community elders developed in collaboration with a non-native game design studio. Deploying traditional story, Iñupiat language and culture, and engaging in cooperative game play modes, Never Alone seeks to challenge mainstream games to represent indigenous narratives and philosophies. Celebrated as one of the most successful world-building games, Never Alone invites us to think further about how code and interface—the structures of interface—affect how gamers are allowed to play the story. How might indigenous game designs transform structures of settler colonialism and enable indigenous kinship relationalities to space as a form of decolonial resistance?
Jodi A. Byrd is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and an Associate Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she is also a faculty affiliate at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Her work has been published in journals including American Indian Quarterly, Cultural Studies Review, Interventions, College Literature, J19, American Quarterly, Settler Colonial Studies, and Wíčazo Ša Review. Her book, The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (Minnesota, 2011) won the 2013 Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Award for best first book. Her next project, Indigenomicon: American Indians, Videogames, and the Structures of Genre, delves into the literary and digital realms of play to think further about how the colonization of American Indians continues to inform imaginary terrains.
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