Engl 197: Simulation & Simulacra

UC Santa Barbara, Winter 2012


Professor Rita Raley <raley at english dot ucsb dot edu>
Junior-Senior Seminar
MW 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM in SH 2617

Simulation is everywhere around us: whether it be in the form of cultural fantasy (The Matrix, Inception), game spaces (Second Life, the Sims), non-virtual places (Disneyland), or VR training exercises, simulation seems to be the dominant mode, genre, and technique of the 21C. With a particular focus on virtuality and the production of the “real,” this seminar will explore simulation through the writing of Jean Baudrillard and Plato, among many others. We will differentiate simulation from “modeling” and “gaming,” consider the political and ideological aspects of simulation, and conclude the class with an extended discussion of counter-simulations. More specifically, we will think about simulation as one technique by which we might both imagine and create more hopeful worlds. Our examples will be drawn from film, speculative fiction, and games and we will be discussing virtual environments, virtual pets, surrogates, military training, and reality television as well.



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