Alf Seegert
  • Professor (Lecturer), English

Current Courses

Fall 2024

  • ENGL 2090-090
    Video Game Storytelling
  • ENGL 2090-290
    Video Game Storytelling
  • ENGL 5090-001
    Lit, Film, Video Games
  • ENGL 5210-001
    Film Genres

Spring 2024

Professional Organizations

  • The Ecological Citizen -- an independent, peer-reviewed, free-to-access ecocentric journal. 07/01/2022 - present. Position : Editorial Advisor.

Courses I Teach

  • English 2070 - Popular Culture: Weird Tales and Fantastic Fiction
    Wonder, mystery, awe. A potent work of fantasy can evoke all of these sensations by leading us through a portal into a fabulous alternative world, or by making mundane reality seem fantastical. But when truly impossible weirdness intrudes into one’s everyday world, the effect is not only thrilling, but horrifying. Thus, the weird tale, according to H.P. Lovecraft, means “something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule.” He insists that a weird tale must possess a “certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces” and “a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain—-a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.” The task of our class is to critically engage with weird tales and fantastic fiction in various exciting literary texts and films. We will traverse the Uncanny Valley and recoil in Cosmic Horror as we scale the Mountains of Madness. Oh, and while we’re at it, we'll read and write about short stories, novels, and films, and learn theories of the fantastic. Authors will include Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, and Haruki Murakami. Films include Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People (1942), Andrew Leman’s The Call of Cthulhu (2005), and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). No prerequisites are required. This course will be fun but it will also be rigorous. Students will be expected to show up regularly to each session, text-in-hand, fully prepared to discuss all assigned materials. Assessments include two essays and two exams.
  • English 2090 - Video Game Storytelling   (https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/bcjyibpt10tpgnhzfo1...)
    This class explores the interplay between game and story in video games. Students will play and analyze video games, specifically those with strong narratives. Texts include video games themselves, as well as a selection of films, fiction, and critical resources. This course is a prerequisite for 5000-level courses such as ENGL 5090: Literature, Film, and Video Games and ENGL 5095: Advanced Video Game Storytelling
  • English 2235 - Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings on Page and Screen   (https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/vxa033vitbt3lw965gl...)
    This class explores fantasy literature through the writings and legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien. To that end we will study Tolkien’s 3-volume work The Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson’s 2001-2003 film series, with special attention to the cinematic adaptation of print text and the representational limits and possibilities of each medium. We will also examine selections from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion and his theories of enchantment and secondary worlds in “On Fairy Stories.” Students will be required to read carefully, attend regularly, and complete a series of Critical Responses, a Midterm, and a Final Exam.
  • English 5050 -- Studies in Genre - Virtuality and Nature in Film and Fiction
    In this class we will explore various films, short stories and novels that wrestle with the problem of the virtual and its relationship with nature. Although today the virtual is typically associated with cyberspace, digital media, and video games, the virtual has always been with us in art, memory, dream, fantasy, and in representation generally speaking. Where Plato condemned art as counterfeit reality in The Republic, Oscar Wilde in contrast disdained nature as merely “bad art” and instead valorized the artificial. Such debates continue today. Films like Blade Runner and The Matrix lay bare the anxieties that result from the threat of lifelike simulations ultimately substituting for the so-called “natural” world. In cyberpunk technoscapes and the transhumanist vision of Ray Kurzweil, virtuality becomes so pervasive that nature in effect disappears: prosthetic limbs and circuitry fuse technology with the body and the allure of cyberspace substitutes for physical landscapes and fleshly interaction. In response to the “threat of the virtual,” texts like E.M. Forster’s 1909 story “The Machine Stops” represent the attempted flight away from mechanized society back into the “natural” body. Alex Rivera’s surrealist science fiction film Sleep Dealer examines the alienating effects of avatar identity and drone technology. Werner Herzog’s film Grizzly Man viscerally illustrates just how deadly a reencounter with the body and wild nature can be for people who are used to living their lives through digital media. In addition to these works we will also watch episodes from Black Mirror — Charlie Brooker’s darkly satiric British series on technology-as-Twilight Zone. Other texts include Oscar Wilde’s novel of avatar identity, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the basis for Blade Runner), and Adolfo Bioy Casares’ novella The Invention of Morel, plus short works by Edward Abbey, Ray Bradbury, Jorge Borges, Jean Baudrillard, Marshall McLuhan, Susan Sontag, and others.
  • English 5090 - Literature, Film, and Video Games   (https://www.dropbox.com/s/w9toahx6h5siujy/ENGL%205...)
    The reading of literary texts is necessarily active, but the playing of video games is by definition interactive: a player’s choices characteristically affect outcomes, or at least feel like they do. As a result, the medium of video games can produce emotions which are rarely, if ever, found in other artistic media, such as responsibility or even guilt. To examine such concerns, this course combines literary texts and films with narrative-focused video games in order that each medium might illuminate the other. A major goal of the course is to consider questions surrounding adaptation and medium-specific criticism. What can literary texts do that video games can’t, and vice-versa? What are the promises, benefits, and liabilities of interactivity? What does the gap between player and player character feel like, and how might guilt and other emotions emerge from the complicity of players with the actions (including atrocities) performed by their on-screen avatars? Prerequisite: ENGL 2090, Video Game Storytelling
  • English 5095 - Advanced Video Game Storytelling   (https://www.dropbox.com/s/drpntrywpeqt5xj/5095%20O...)
    In this class we will examine longstanding video game genres and their afterlives, from role-playing games to puzzle platformers to point-and-click adventures to interactive films to first-person so-called “walking simulators” to open-world exploration and boss-monster action adventures and beyond. Specifically, we will play and analyze a series of video games that re-imagine – or even subvert – genre expectations, focusing particularly on how they implement narrative in doing so. Prerequisite: ENGL 2090, Video Game Storytelling.
  • English 5210 - Film Genres: Virtuality and Enchantment   (https://www.dropbox.com/s/xoz0jldvj8vrxo9/ENGL%205...)
    Note: this course is NOT a survey of multiple film genres. It is a deep-dive into one -- and an unorthodox one at that... About a century ago, sociologist Max Weber famously declared that modernity had, through the combined powers of industrialization and technical rationality, brought about “the disenchantment of the world.” This disenchantment allegedly drained soul and meaning from the cosmos, leaving people alienated from themselves and nature, and rendering the earth a wasteland. In this class we will examine how cinema both depicts and enacts – or attempts to enact – the powers of enchantment. The assigned films reveal both promise and peril in an enchanted perception of the world, specifically the delights and bewitchments of virtuality found in dreams, delusions, stage illusions, poetic art, digital devices, special effects, and the magic of the camera itself.

Student Projects

  • Faculty Advisor for Service Learning Scholar. Annika Pecchia-Bekkum. 09/2012 - 05/2013
  • Faculty Advisor for Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROP). Annika Pecchia-Bekkum. 09/2012 - 05/2013
  • Faculty Advisor for Bachelor of University Studies student. Alex Boren. 12/2011 - 05/2015

Teaching Projects

  • ENGL 5095: Advanced Video Game Storytelling. Project Lead: Alf Seegert. 01/01/2023 - present.
  • ENGL 5090 ONLINE: Literature, Film, and Video Games. Project Lead: Alf Seegert. Created a new fully ONLINE asynchronous version of my existing ENGL 5090 course. 08/01/2020 - 12/15/2020.
  • ENGL 2235 ONLINE, Fantasy: the Lord of the Rings on Page and Screen. Project Lead: Alf Seegert. Created a new fully ONLINE asynchronous version of my existing ENGL 2235 course. 03/15/2020 - 12/15/2020.
  • ENGL 5210: Film Genres. Project Lead: Alf Seegert. 08/19/2019 - 12/15/2019.
  • ENGL 2090 ONLINE, Video Games and Storytelling. Project Lead: Developed new ONLINE version of my traditional ENGL 2090 course. 08/20/2018 - 12/15/2018.
  • ENGL 5090, Literature, Film, and Video Games. Project Lead: Development of new advanced course combining literature and video games. 08/2016 - 12/15/2016.
  • ENGL 2235, Fantasy: "The Lord of the Rings on Page and Screen". Project Lead: GEN ED course development . 09/2015 - 12/15/2015.