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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Fredric Jameson and the Gangster: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as a Cognitive Map

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My essay on Fredric Jameson's theory of "cognitive mapping" and Grand Theft Auto has now been published in Writing Technologies.

In this essay, I revisit Jameson's 1991 thesis from Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, in which he argues that E.L. Doctorow's novel, Ragtime, demonstrates how postmodern novels are generally unable to offer an adequate expression of the political currents of the time. Jameson argues that the problems of late capitalism can be better mapped through spatial representations rather than through text. Jameson does not clearly indicate what such a spatial representation might look like, other than suggesting it will be similar to postmodern architecture.

In my essay, I suggest that, today, the narrative form of computer games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas might offer a useful alternative model for some of the economic and social issues surrounding late capitalism, particularly those concerning race. 

My thanks to the editor and reviewers of Writing Technologies for some helpful comments and patient editing, which led me to improve the article by including more game theory, at a time when I was only just starting to think seriously about computer game narratives. Also thanks to the attendees of the British Society for Literature and Science conference in 2010, who offered feedback on the paper which led to this publication.

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