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Introduction: Games Studies, Comics Studies, & Fictional Geography

Introduction: Games Studies, Comics Studies, & Fictional Geography

Hello all! I'm Kalervo, an Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD student at Concordia University in Montreal. Technically, I have no department--my program is housed with the university's Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture (CISSC), and my dissertation advisory committee is made up of professors in English, Communications, and Film Studies. I consider myself a lot of different things, but 'media scholar' tends to be what I tell people what they ask what I do as a doctoral student. My early background is in English literature (both BA and MA), but I've never been able to slot myself into traditional scholarly roles--my honour's thesis at the BA level looked at intertextuality within comic books, and my MA research project revolved around took an Actor-Network Theory look at narrative adaptation in differential media. Narrative has always been important to me, but close readings and the search for some kind of meaning in discoverable content interests me far less than meta-data and meaning as a dynamic exchange best revealed through a play of differences. 

Since beginning my PhD, I've been fortunate enough to be sucked into the orbit of Concordia's Technoculture, Art, and Games research centre (TAG), and more recently the Interactive Multi-Modal Experience Research Syndicate (IMMERSe). By this point, games are my bread and butter, and I've spent most of the past year on an IMMERSe project that revolves around modding communities, particularly those that create mods for Bethesda's series of Elder Scrolls games. With that project winding down a bit (a handful of presentations and a couple submissions in the can), I'm now turning my attention towards my dissertation research: an extensive look at the impacts of transmedia on fictional geography and game spaces (and vice versa). My take, and there will be more on this, is that digital networked media is creating a new kind of consistency within many fictional and spaces, transforming them from imaginary geography into virtual geography. As this happens, the increasingly concretized spaces begin to bleed outwards as well, changing the kinds of narratives that can take place within them and altering the openings for participatory intervention. The question of how is where I begin my work.

My other passion is comics studies. I'm currently the Vice President of Communications for the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics, and on the organizing committee for the Society's annual conference. I managed to find one of the nichiest niches in the field and cultivate an expertise on digital comics circulation and piracy--I've been published on the subject of unauthorized comics scanning twice and have two more publications on digital comics materiality and culture forthcoming in 2015. Finally, right now I'm teaching the fall 2014 section of the 'Graphic Novel' survey course in Concordia's English Department.

I'm looking forward to reading more from everyone else--already I've been reading some great posts from some of the other HASTAC Scholars this year--and can't wait to find a way to collaborate across this great network. More soon.

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