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CM Seminar: America is Dead. Long Live America!: Political Affect in Days Gone

Speaker Name: 
Soraya Murray
Speaker Organization: 
University of California, Santa Cruz
Start Time: 
Monday, February 1, 2021 - 12:00pm
End Time: 
Monday, February 1, 2021 - 1:05pm
Via Zoom Presentation
Sri Kurniawan


In this presentation, Murray considers political affect in the open world action-adventure survival horror game Days Gone (SIE Bend Studios, 2019). Through its rendering of the Pacific Northwest landscape as ideology, much is revealed about a deeply troubled and oppositional worldview. While her research addresses matters of representation—particularly notions of fraught masculinity and a struggle for recognition—Murray's focus is on how the game functions as a window onto a fantasy of American self-reliance and populism that strongly resonates with a Trump-era nationalist turn in the U.S. The work also gestures toward a methodology of experiential close-reading, one focused on working-through and sitting with a difficult aesthetic object that may at first seem entirely generic. In this essay, Murray reaches through the offending, formulaic image to grasp the political affect that emanates from a sustained aesthetic experience of playing Days Gone.


Soraya Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar who focuses on technology, science and visual culture, with particular interest in contemporary art, film and video games. Murray holds a Ph.D. in art history and visual studies from Cornell University. An Associate Professor in the Film & Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Murray studies technological representations (such as the playable simulations of video games), as well as the representations of advanced technology, science and innovation in film and visual culture. Murray's writings are published in Art Journal, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, CTheory, Public Art Review, Third Text, ROMchip, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, and Critical Inquiry. Her writings are anthologized nationally and internationally. Most recently, she has contributed to the anthology The Cambridge Companion to Nineteen Eighty-Four, ed. Nathan Waddell (Cambridge U. Press, 2020), How to Play Video Games, eds. Nina Huntemann and Matthew Payne (NYU Press, 2019); and Through the Black Mirror: Deconstructing the Side Effects of the Digital Age, eds. Terence McSweeney and Stuart Joy (Palgrave, 2019). Her two anthologized essays on the military game genre, gender and race may be found in Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games, eds. Jennifer Malkowski and TreaAndrea M. Russworm (Indiana University Press, 2017) and in Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming, eds. Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (The MIT Press, 2016). Murray's first book, On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space (I.B. Tauris, 2018), focuses on post-9/11 era mainstream games and considers how they both mirror and are constitutive of larger societal fears, dreams, hopes and even complex struggles for recognition. In February 2021, On Video Games will go to paperback.

The Zoom access link and passcode are:
Passcode: 02012021

Event Type: