MLArcade: The Rhetoric of Pinball


Geoffrey V. Carter and

Robert Lestón, Organizers

Enter the MLArcade: The Rhetoric of Pinball.

Originally conceived as a way to bring an old school arcade into an intellectual space, the MLArcade brings together a collection of ten separate, yet unified, digital presentations on the relationship of rhetoric and pinball.

This virtual arcade includes videos and reflections by the following pinball wizards: Sarah J. Arroyo, Bahareh Alaei, Amy Loy (California State University); Scot Barnett (Indiana University); Ron Brooks (Oklahoma State University); Geoffrey V. Carter (Saginaw Valley State University); Anthony Collamati (Alma College); Jason Helms (Texas Christian University); Alexandra Hidalgo (Michigan State University); Robert Lestón (New York City College of Technology); and Jody Shipka (University of Maryland).

In the age of smartphones and app stores, the delivery, style, and invention of these works open a space that shows not only that pinball is just the game to question how we relate with technology, but also how to push wider the scope of what is called writing.

Use the pinball interface to make further connections: careen between topics and allow the kinetic energy to build as the efforts re-energize understandings of such thinkers as Gilles Deleuze, Bernard Steigler, Marshall McLuhan and others.

Once inside the game, wander around the gallery as it was originally intended, by randomly stopping at different titles and designs that catch your eye. Circle back around to see how the playfields speak to each other and rack up your high scores.

About The Author(s):


Geoffrey V. Carter is an Assistant Professor of English with Tenure at Saginaw Valley State University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in SVSU’s Communication & Media Administration program. His areas of interest include video culture, electracy, and post-cinematics. He has published articles in PRE/TEXT, Kairos, and Computers and Composition, and he has also edited a special issue on “Video and Participatory Cultures” for Enculturation. He currently maintains six pinball machines in his basement.

Robert Lestón’s research includes studies in the avant garde arts of sound, image, film, and contintental philosophy as they apply to expanding the scope of rhetorical invention. His work has appeared in Itineration, Kairos, Configurations, Enculturation, Atlantic Journal of Communication, and other venues. He is also coauthor of Beyond the Blogosphere: Information and Its Children (2012) with Aaron Barlow. He is an Associate Professor at CUNY, NYC College of Technology.

Sarah J. Arroyo is a Professor of English at California State University Long Beach, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses ranging from Theories and Practices of Composition to Critical Theory to Digital Rhetoric and Video/Participatory Cultures. Sarah’s research explores the intersections of rhetoric, writing, electracy, and video/participatory cultures, and offers both theories and practices that operate as alternatives to traditional, literate-only conceptions of writing. She has published articles in JAC, Composition Forum, Kairos, Present Tense, and Enculturation and her book, published in 2013 by SIUP, is entitled Participatory Composition: Video Culture, Writing, and Electracy.

Bahareh Alaei earned her M.A. from California State University, Long Beach, where she teaches courses ranging from first year composition to digital rhetoric. She has been published in Kairos, Present Tense, and Itineration and had made contributions to Sarah Arroyo’s book Participatory Composition. She is currently revising her thesis, “Producing as a Listener,” for publication and has a few videos in the works.

Scot Barnett is an assistant professor of English at Indiana University where he teaches courses in rhetorical theory and digital rhetoric. His work has appeared in Enculturation and Kairos as well in the collections Thinking with Bruno Latour in Rhetoric and Composition (Southern Illinois), Rhetorics of Names and Naming (Routledge), and Augmented Reality: Innovative Perspectives Across Art, Industry, and Academia (Parlor). His current research focuses on the intersections of object-oriented theories and histories of rhetoric. With Casey Boyle, he is the editor of Rhetoric, Through Everyday Things (University of Alabama Press, 2016). He is also currently completing a monograph on the history of realist ideas in rhetorical theory entitled Rhetorical Realism: Rhetoric, Ethics, and the Ontology of Things.

Ron Brooks is an associate professor in the rhetoric and professional writing program at Oklahoma State. He has published essays on new media, posthumanism, and postprocess composition.

Anthony Collamati is Assistant Professor of New Media Studies at Alma College. His screenplay, Apology (2004), won an IFP/Chicago Production Fund Grant, and his scholarship has appeared in PRE/TEXT and EDUCAUSE Quarterly. His TEDx Talk “How Cameras are Changing the World” is available on YouTube.

Jason Helms is an Assistant Professor of English at TCU where he teaches courses on video games, new media, critical theory, and the history of rhetoric. His research focuses on the intersection of rhetoric and technology, particularly in comics, video games, and digital media. His digital monograph, Rhizcomics: Rhetoric, Technology, and New Media Composition (University of Michigan Press), will be released in 2016.

Alexandra Hidalgo was born in Venezuela and moved to Dayton, Ohio when she was 16. She is assistant professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University. Her documentary films have screened at festivals and universities around the world and have been featured on NPR, IndieWire, and CinéWomen, among other publications. Her video essays and documentaries have been published on Enculturation and Peitho, and are forthcoming, available through Computers and Composition Digital Press. In 2015, she co-edited Present Tense's "Special Issue on Race, Rhetoric, and the State" with Donnie Johnson Sackey. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of agnès films, an online space that supports the work of women and feminist filmmakers.

Jody Shipka is an associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she teaches courses in the Communication and Technology Track. She is the author of Toward a Composition Made Whole and the editor of Play! A Collection of Toy Camera Photographs. Her work has appeared in College Composition and Communication, Computers and Composition, Enculturation, Kairos, Text and Talk, Writing Selves/Writing Societies and other edited collections.