Ben S. Bunting, Jr.
Charles Blackburn Postdoctoral Fellow
Once on a path to a promising career in computer science, Ben was led astray by the siren song of the humanities and thus received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Kent State University in 2003. After a few years of using the powers granted him by said degree to make burritos for hungover college students, he traveled via rusted-out pickup truck to the Palouse prarie in eastern Washington state to attend graduate school at Washington State University. Supported by a succession of outstanding mentors, he earned his M.A. in English Literature in 2007 and his Ph.D. in 2012.
Research Interests and Current Work
Ben successfully defended his dissertation in May 2012 and is now in the process of reforging it in the fires of OpenOffice with the intent of creating a publishable manuscript. Titled Alternative Wildernesses: Finding Wildness in 21st Century
America, it is an original ecocritical work that uses space/place theory to investigate ways in which the 21st-century American idea of "wilderness" can be expanded to include city spaces, virtual gameworlds, and the physical/virtual hybrid spaces made possible by mobile, location-aware interfaces. Along with ecocriticism and space/place theory, Ben's research interests include game studies, narratology, locative technology, mobile interface theory, and urban exploration.
Currently, Ben is serving as the Charles Blackburn Postdoctoral Fellow and will be teaching Readings in American Literature (English 210) and Digital Diversity (English/Amer St/DTC 475) in the fall. He recently finished revising a chapter of his dissertation for inclusion in Dr. Jason Farman's forthcoming collection Digital Storytelling and Mobile Media: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies and is now trying his hand at being an editor by soliciting essay proposals for a collection based on the idea of reading video gameworlds as “virtual wildernesses.” Provided the collection finds a publisher, Ben will be contributing an essay of his own dealing with wilderness and Heideggerian dwelling in Minecraft. Finally, during the fall semester he will making final revisions on “Raising the Dead: What Urban Exploration Can Contribute To Oral History,” a piece that uses lengthy interviews with urban explorers to explain how their particular subculture helps to keep a hidden history of cities alive. It will appear in the forthcoming collection Personal Stories/Public Lands from Oxford University Press.
Ben has spoken on his current research at ASLE, PCA/ACA, and THATcamp, and has also participated in panels at PAMLA, PNASA, RMMLA, and CCCC.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
- “Nature As Ecology: Toward a More Constructive Ecocriticism.” Under consideration at the Journal of Ecocriticism.
- “An Alternative Wilderness: How Urban Exploration Brings Wildness To The City.” An edited dissertation chapter, under consideration at ISLE.
- “The Player As Author: Exploring the Effects of Mobile Gaming and the Location-Aware Interface on Storytelling.” Co-authored with Tim Hetland and Jacob Hughes. Published in FutureInternet, 4(1), 2012.
- “The Geocacher As Placemaker: Remapping Reality Through Location-Based Mobile Gameplay.” Accepted for the collection Digital Storytelling and Mobile Media: Narrative Practices with Locative Technologies edited by Dr. Jason Farman, to be published by Routledge. Forthcoming (6000 words).
- “Raising the Dead: What Urban Exploration Can Contribute To Oral History” (working title). Accepted for the collection Personal Stories/Public Lands (working title), to be published by Oxford University Press. Forthcoming (7000 words).
- “PrinceofPersia:TheSandsofTime and Why Video Game-to-Film Adaptations Fail” (working title). Under contract for a yet-untitled essay collection edited by Drs. Joseph Sommers and Gretchen Papazian to be published by McFarland Press. Forthcoming (5000 words).
- “Cooperative and Collaborative Writing With Google Docs.” Co-authored with Donna Evans. Published in the collection Collaborative Learning and Writing: Essays on Using Small Groups in Teaching English and Composition, edited by Kathleen M. Hunzer and published by McFarland Press. 2012.
- Review of PostmodernBelief:AmericanLiteratureandReligionSince1960, by Amy Hungerford. Published in RMMLA, 65:1, Spring 2011.
- Review of DigitalCityscapes:MergingDigitalandUrbanPlayscapes, eds. Adriana de Souza e Silva and Daniel Sutko. Published in NewMediaandSociety, 12:8, December 2010.
- Review of This Ecstatic Nation: The American Landscape and the Aesthetics of Patriotism, by Terre Ryan. Published in the Journal of Ecocriticism, 4:2, 2012.
- Avery Hall 487