With the example practice-as-network often abridged as role-playing games, this course introduces students to a (trans-) cultural studies approach of practices, actors and processes.
Research into (sub-) cultures, for example fan studies, often focuses either on content or on the communities of fandom, at times essentialising involved persons or drawing borders around things that are highly interconnected and dynamic. Cultural practices, however, are performative, meaning that they exist through “doing,” through recreating, tracing the network of involved human and also non-human elements.
With a focus on doing, transforming, and ordering, this course borrows from Wittgenstein, Foucault, Butler, Schatzki and Reckwitz but favours the heuristic device of the network: Practices are drawn as networks that have gained a certain durability that makes them recognisable for others with the consequence that they can be spoken about and be treated as a resource when doing the practice. A practice-as-network consists of interdependent material and non-material elements that encompass bodies, body parts, bodily movements, materials or things, practical knowledge or know-how/competences, and concepts/theoretical knowledge of the practice. Practices-as-networks are recursive: With each performance, the network is slightly reconfigured.
Building on a Wittgensteinian approach to cultural practices, students will acquire knowledge and skills in how developing a matching research design for studies sensitive to the role of actors and materials alike. They will be introduced to theories of agency, networks, and practices on a general level, and learn about their concrete application with the example of non-digital role-playing games, focusing on games in and from Japan but in a global context.
Course Schedule and Evaluation
To JDTS/MATS students: This is course can be taken as either reduced (4 ECTS) or full seminar (8 ECTS). Please indicate your ECTS requirement to the teacher.
Students will have much flexibility in gaining points through various tasks they need to fulfill during the semester, such as actively guiding the discussion, translating course material into their own understanding, or presenting a topic in class. Evaluation depends on the number of fulfilled quests. For 8 ECTS, however, a “classic” term paper needs to be written.