Here’s the abstract for my upcoming paper at the Narrative Conference in Lexington, Kentucky:
How to Play a Parable
This paper will frame the methodological challenges and theoretical implications bound up in parables that are designed, read, and played in digital environments. It will begin by outlining the potential contradictions already present when parables are dealt with by cognitive and unnatural narratology, two of the most active approaches in current discourse. Unnatural narratology must untangle the debate over whether or not parables remain parables or become something else entirely, such as allegory, when they incorporate supernatural elements. Cognitive narratology must confront the claim that parable is indeed the cornerstone of our inherently – or perhaps “naturally” – “literary minds” (after Mark Turner 1996).
Even more challenging questions arise, however, when parables enter digital environments and exploit the aesthetics of simulation, thus opening up the form to the manipulation and configuration of a user or, in ludic and gaming contexts, a player. On the one hand, a parable that we steer toward one of many possible outcomes would present a contradictory logic that would denude it of a singular didactic impulse. On the other hand, the notion of a parable in which we participate could potentially carry a more palpable message than its conventional (print) counterpart, given the intensely immersive, experiential quality of digital simulations.
My first example is non-narrative: “Parable of the Polygons” (2013) by Vi Hart and Nicky Case illustrates how seemingly harmless choices can quickly lead to harmfully segregated neighborhoods by way of manipulating biased (or rather “shapist”) triangles and squares. The Stanley Parable (2013) by Davey Wreden and William Pugh provides an explicitly narrative example – one that is also explicitly subversive in terms of the adversarial relationship it stages between player and narrator. I will conclude with an argument for the profound pedagogical implications of these playable parables, both despite and because of the philosophical challenges they pose.
A new collection of essays that marks the official unofficial end of postmodernism is out now in the electronic book review. The collection, edited by me, includes other current or former Otagonians in Associate Professor Jacob Edmond, Lynley Edmeades, Holly Phillips, Neil Vallelly, & Damien Gibson. Here’s my introduction:
The project arises out of the “What [in the World] was Postmodernism” Symposium held at the University of Otago in June of 2015. Brian McHale and Simon During provided the keynotes, and feature among the essays as well.
Important person says good things about my book in an important journal, which is good.
This review just out from Tony Jackson in Poetics Today:
“Any project that brings empirical-scientific ideas into the study of literature needs to do certain things well if it is going to succeed in the contested field of approaches to literature. Its imported main ideas need to be made clear in themselves; they need to be supported by adequately strong, cited support from the actual scientific research; and they need to be situated clearly in relation to the surrounding context of humanistic scholarly ideas. Close reading of the words of the text(s) needs to be at least as important, both qualitatively and quantitatively, as anything else. Ciccoricco’s Refiguring Minds does all of these things quite well. I find it to be a strong entry in the growing area of cognitive literary studies.”
—Tony Jackson in Poetics Today
Great to see two new reviews of the book come out:
“Ciccoricco writes in a clear and engaging style that conveys complex ideas with ease, making this work as enjoyable to read as it is informative… Because of its deft and penetrating analyses as well as its interdisciplinary approach, this volume will prove invaluable for both the beginning scholar and the expert alike.”
—Howard Christian, REVIEW in Diegesis
“Ciccoricco continues the quiet daring of the University of Nebraska Press’ interdisciplinary Frontiers of Narrative series… [creating] models for emerging literary research at the intersection of cognitive science, phenomenology, and narrative theory.”
—David Rodriguez, REVIEW in Memory Studies Journal
Was seriously thrilled to join Caitlin Fisher and Illya Szilak for my panel at the Electronic Literature Conference (ELO) in Victoria, Canada. It was a full house and a good time.
Ciccoricco & Fisher during the Q & A
Pleased to report that Refiguring Minds in Narrative Media has been named 2016 Runner-up & Honorable Mention for the N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism in Electronic Literature. It is wonderful to be recognized in this manner by the Electronic Literature Organization and to have the book associated with such an esteemed scholar in the field.