Having a Sense of Humor

First, the Interactive Pasts Conference, put on by the Value Project at Leiden University, was fantastic. It deserves a serious recap, which I intend to give.

That’s not what this post is though. This post is silly pictures of me.

During the conference, the following photograph of me was taken while I was giving my talk on mortuary monuments, game spaces, and looting.


I’m giving some serious side-eye. Based on the background of the slide behind me, I was getting to the part in my presentation where I talk about self-awareness on the part of the game developers concerning their use of looting as a narrative device. It’s a talk I’m happy with, and which I hope to get up on the site soon. But I’m definitely making a dubious and judgy face, and the photographer captured me in that exact moment.

When I linked to this picture on my FB, a former student noted that the image was pretty indicative of experiences he’d had with me in the classroom when I was trying to make a student understand, purely through facial expressions, that they’d said something foolish. A friend chimed in and said it was a meme of my teaching career waiting to happen.

And then it happened.

The following collection of gifs features contributions by colleagues, friends, former students, and me.

When I shared these with the public, it spurred two different conversations. The first, that I was very unprofessional. I don’t agree. I think taking your scholarship seriously is important. There’s no point in doing your work if you don’t take it seriously. But I also think that if you don’t have a sense of humor about yourself, and about your relationship to your work, you can quickly become unhealthy.

The second conversation was that we need to be looking at how we represent ourselves as scholars to the world, and how we share our work. Journal articles are important. Conferences are important. Books and monographs and reviews are important. But the majority of the public doesn’t access those outputs. They don’t see what we’re doing, because we don’t put it in places, or formats, that make it accessible to them.

This is me, being accessible.

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Some of my work deals with looting in games, which is represented. Some of my work deals with historical accuracy versus historical authenticity in games, which is also there. I have a paper I’m giving in Kyoto in the fall that deals with representations of female versus male archaeologists in games, which there’s a nod to. Overall, my friends and students managed to capture a good generalist slice of what I study, which means that in some way, I’m reaching them, and that’s the goal. I don’t want to do research in a vacuum, or have my work lost in one.