Carly A. Kocurek, PhD - Games, Scholarship, Media

Casual Thinking. Serious Gaming.

Onward and Upward

Category : Miscellaneous Apr 10th, 2012

While I normally focus on bits of gaming culture I find interesting, I’m going to make a bit of an aside today. I have crossed a number of milestones (or hazing rituals, depending on your perspective) over the past few weeks, and I would like to share some of that here.

1. I have defended my dissertation, which means I’ll be graduating in just over a month.

Best Gamers in the World, Ottumwa, 1982

The "Best Gamers in the World" photographed in Ottumwa, Iowa for Life Magazine.

My dissertation is a cultural history of the pre-crash video game arcade. Like many great things in my life, my dissertation started at the movies. I took myself to go see The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters one afternoon, and became completely fixated on the Life Magazine image of the best video gamers in the world. Tracking down the historical and cultural context of that image yielded a conference paper which yielded an idea for a dissertation topic. Now, three years later, I’ve wrapped up that dissertation.

I entered the University of Texas in Fall 2004, which means I’ve been floating around Austin for nearly 8 years. Austin has been good to me, and so has my department. The Department of American Studies at UT is the kind of place where a food studies scholar, an expert on circuses, and a dedicated teacher up to his elbows in a project on alcohol and drug policy agree to oversee a project on video gaming. It’s an oddball department in some ways, and the people drawn to it are themselves often oddballs of one kind of another. I have been incredibly fortunate to find myself in such compelling company. I’m smarter, by leaps and bounds, not only because of the structured course of study I’m now completing, but because of the informal education I’ve received from mentors, faculty, peers, and friends. Like they say, it takes a village.

So, while I am excited to complete my dissertation and move forward, parting is, as always, such sweet sorrow. And, I am parting, because:

2. I have accepted a position at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Illinois Institute of Technology

I am pleased to announce that come August, I will be joining the faculty at the Illinois Institute of Technology as Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and Media Studies. IIT is a great school, and I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to developing programs in the Digital Humanities.

I would be hard pressed to find a job that is a better fit for what I do. I still can’t get over how incredibly cool the IIT campus is. Seriously, the architecture is jaw dropping. And, I was led to believe they’d let me play with the 3D printers.