How to Avatar? The Art of Being Somewhere Else

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Anthropology

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

How to Avatar?

Spring 2019

Taught By: Volkan Eke

Section: A

CRN: 7135

Credits: 4

What is an Avatar if not how you move through a world? This course will suggest that the avatar which has long been singled out as players’ mere online appearance, be rather considered a verb, and a cultivated one at that. As early as the 1930’s, cultural historian J. Huizinga and social anthropologist M. Mauss had respectively theorized role-playing in terms of elements of appearance such as wearables and masks, but also of human bodies and how to use them. Turning their attention to worlds other than the one assigned at birth, contemporary anthropologists T. Boellstorff (Second-Life)and Celia Pearce (migrant avatars)explore how avatars are donned in massively populous online role-playing games. Echoing formalist game design principles that predicate the appearance of an avatar on how it functions, anthropologists such as K. Miller (Grand Theft Auto), and T. L. Taylor (eSports) have traced how humans cultivate the skills to operate their avatar bodies in virtual worlds. Stepping out of the borders of the game, ethnologist T. Silvio (cosplayers) and anthropologist G. Otsuki (wearable technologies) have considered how avatars operate humans in return. Drawing from key readings in anthropology, a discipline familiar with the sensibilities of moving through worlds, to be read along contemporary phenomena in games, this class will investigate what it really takes to be somewhere else.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Anthropology (LANT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 18

Enrollment Status: Open*

*Enrollment status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 12:20pm 5/20/2019

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday, Wednesday

Times: 11:55am - 1:35pm

Building: 6 East 16th Street

Room: 911

Date Range: 1/23/2019 - 5/13/2019