The Clayton B. Ofstad Readings Series

Spring 2023

Thursday, January 26, 2023 | Noon | SUB 3000
Anand Prahlad
A Reading with Ofstad Visiting Writer

Prahlad will be reading from his most recent collection of poems, Dreaming of Endangered Species, which explores intersectional identities of disability and illness, queerness, and blackness in an age of political collapse and environmental crises.

Thursday, March 2, 2023 | 4 p.m. | Baldwin Hall Little Theatre (102)
Kyle Eveleth

Ofstad Scholar Lecture
“The Semiotics of Play, or ‘Teaching History through Cannibalism’”

What does it mean to “play a game”? How is such meaning generated? How is that meaning tied both to the instructions of the game as well as to its actual execution? And what happens to meaning when we modify those instructions? Most importantly, how can a better understanding of how games signify translate into better teaching and learning?

Play is crucial to the human intellectual enterprise, and no less worthy of scholarly inquiry than any other mode of expression. Like all other expressive media, iterations of play are cultural artifacts, ripe for interpretation, like any novel, poem, film, or scientific discovery. Because games communicate (and are themselves mechanisms for communication) they can be understood via semiotics, the study of meaning making. Finally, we can juxtapose the affordances of the game world–that is, the rules for what counts as play–with the affordances of lived experiences to better understand how humans make meaning, and how we learn to be acculturated people. By modifying certain affordances–rules–we can better understand the mechanisms of a single play session, which exposes how rules govern behavior in other contexts as well.

As “play” is a reflection of the people who make and play a game, we can learn vastly more about those times, peoples, and cultures by watching play unfold than by reading about its rules.To that end, this special, long-form lecture will begin with an exemplary form of play: the social deduction game. We will discuss the semiotics of the game, meaning its signs and signifieds. We will also discuss the motivations, styles, and values that the rules of the game favor. The audience can expect to participate, whether in play or in evaluation of strategy, to better understand how players uncover information and partake in the game.

Please note: all cannibalistic activities will be both fictional and playful; no actual eating of humans will be required, encouraged, or tolerated.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023 |  12:30 p.m. | SUB Georgian A
Carrie Gillon

Ofstad Scholar Lecture
“The Squamish Language Policy and Language Commission”

In this talk, I describe the Language Policy passed by Squamish Nation Council in 2021. The Squamish Nation’s Language Policy is intended to:

  • develop and maintain highly proficient and fluent speakers of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim (Squamish language)
  • support Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim revitalization, maintenance, and documentation
  • research language revitalization, etc.
  • deliver language initiatives, programs & services for the Squamish people
  • oversee use of the language by employees of the Squamish Nation, volunteers, committee members, academic institutions, and external partners
  • develop a pay structure to incentivize staff members of the Nation to become speakers

The Language Policy also mandated the creation of the Language Commission (Paháyikwup), which is charged with creating new speakers and revitalizing the language. I talk about my role as the Language Commission coordinator, and the steps taken to revitalize Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim so far.

Thursday, April 6, 2023 | Noon | SUB 3000
Nina Furstenau

Ofstad Scholar Reading and Discussion