Staying with the Trouble

book cover

Darwinism and Capitalism

  • two ideas/frames that organize thinking/experience
  • simplified to “survival of the fittest” “nature red in tooth and claw” “competition”
  • which came first? which idea was used to think the other with?

Mental Model/Frame

  • Thought processes of how things work (made up of facts, intuitions, experiences )
  • we all carry many about (e.g. lets think of examples) they can change BUT
  • we fit new information into our existing frameworks

Donna Haraway says:

  • It matters what concepts we use to think with.
  • “It matters what thoughts think thoughts. It matters what knowledges know knowledge. It matters what relations relate relations. It matters what worlds world worlds. It matters what stories tell stories.” p 35

Staying with the Trouble

  • Idea/frame from recent biological that questions Darwinism
    • Emphasis on symbiosis (what is this?)
    • On co-development, relationship
  • What happens if we use these frames to understand/experience and live in the world?

This semester we are going to use Haraway’s alternative framing:

  • To think about current state of world
  • As an analytic tool for media projects
    • do they anticipate/reflect/elucidate Haraway’s frame?

Haraway’s tone

  • not an easy read – complicated texts take time and rereading – but even a skim will get you something
  • H. committed to not simplify – see frame above, its about connections and tangled webs of life, not simple eat or be eaten ideas
  • playful with language and words – asks you sometimes to keep multiple meanings in play
  • we will jump about, double back and maybe read the same thing again
  • a main aspect of the class will be to see if we have understood her
  • notice half the book is footnotes!


Reading 1 Chap 3 p 58 -69 – stop at “Science Art Worldings for Staying with the Trouble and p 86-89 on Never Alone

  • key words symbiogenesis, holobionts, response-ability
  • difference autopoeisis and sympoeisis?
  • what is Haraway saying about models?
  • what models does she bring up, models for what?
  • don’t worry about Chthulucene

Reading 2: Haraway, (SWTT),Chap 3 p 72 -76 – “Four critical Zones” focus on Black Mesa,  and p 89-97  “Navajo Weaving…”

  • why is the concept of weaving important to Haraway? (How) does it connect to the question of symbiogenesis?
  • what is the concept of hozho? And how is it useful to Haraway?

Reading 3: Haraway, (SWTT),Chap 2 p 44 -57 – “Anthropocene,” “Capitolocene”, “Chthulucene” and Chapter 4 p 100 – 103″Making Kin”

  • how does Haraway define these three terms?
  • check index for other uses of Chthulucene.

Reading 4: Haraway, (SWTT),Chap 1 p 16 -29 – “California Racing Pigeons,” “Pigeon Blog”, “Reliable Voyageurs”

  • what are companion species? oddkin? (check index for other uses)
  • how is Haraway using the terms “response-ability” and “becoming with”?
  • what conversations and reactions did pigeon blog start and why?

Reading 5:    Introduction – focus on p 1-4 AND MacDonald, “The ecocinema experience,” in Ecocinema Theory and Practice, pp 18-20, electronic version available on library course reserve:

Reading 6:   Haraway, (SWTT), Chapter 5 p 105 -116 (all)

Reading  7:  The Ecofeminism of Mad Max by Sarah Mirk: AND Mad Max Fury Road: A Savage Masterpiece of Eco-feminist Violence by faustusnotes

Reading 8:  Haraway, (SWTT) Intro 1-4 AND Chapter 1, 9-16

Reading 9: Haraway, (SWTT), Chapter 2 p 30 – 44

Reading 10: Haraway, (SWTT), Chapter 3 67 – 73, and 76 – 81 “The crocheted coral reef”

Reading 11: Andrew Hageman, “do ecocritics dream of clockwork green,” Ecocinema Theory and Practice,  focus on “the case for dialectical ideological critique” p63 – 66 AND  “Fiction is Truer than Strange” and “Drawing from the Well,” p 72 – 82

Reading 12: Haraway, (SWTT), Chapter 6 118 – 125

Never Alone

  • Describe a particularly compelling moment/incident in your own play experience – i.e. not just the game, but the effect it had on you, the interactive, dynamic whole!
  • Why do you play as a fox and a girl?
  • Why do the spirit’s help you? Who, what are they?
  • What do the “bad guys” represent, polar bear, various spirit enemies?
  • What are the game mechanics and what do they allow you to do, think, feel?

We Made Ourselves Over

  • What is Eternal Data?
  • What is a molecular harvester?
  • Why are they remaking the city?
  • Why do teenage girls make the decisions?
  • Why are they eating bugs? What are the barrage balloons for?
  • Why does Hessa stop being a leader after she has downloaded (your) consciousness?
  • What/do the interactive episodes add to the experience?