April 12, UW's English Department hosted the Tri-University Graduate Symposium (TUGS) for English graduate students. GI members participated in the event: Diana Moreno and AC Atienza presented research, Becky Anderson was Panel Chair for Adaptation and Disability in Film, Justin Carpenter was a Panel Chair for Methodologies in the Humanities, and Brian Freiter was Event Photographer and took care of registration.
Shoutout to the Event Organizing Committee, Asma Khaliq, Sara Gallagher, and Ashley Irwin!
Diana Moreno, a PhD student studying science fiction in the context of society's relationship to technologies such as AI and Cybernetics, presented a paper entitled "Speculation and the Power of Rhetorical Conditionals". In this paper she explained that rhetorical conditionals are speculative statements used to talk about hypotheticals and their consequences, and are very important for scientific thinking.
According to Moreno, fiction and imagination are a part of how we form scientific understandings because Counterfactual thinking acts as mental representations that help us work on complex scenarios and create explanations for inconveniences. Rhetorical conditionals are a means by which we challenge conceptual worldviews and learn from the past, thereby allowing us to plan for better futures.
AC Atienza is a Master's student of English who studies how traditional literary criticism paradigms can inform game design. They presented a paper entitled "The Rhetoric of Feasibility" that discussed how appealing to cognitive feasibility can make rhetorical arguments more convincing and more likely to evoke audience buy-in. According to Atienza,
Facts don’t mean as much to people […] they accept [arguments] in accordance with how it already fits within their ideological beliefs.
Atienza argued that representational models like games aren't just procedural rhetoric but are also teaching tools that aid arguments independently of those models. Interactive systems, like games, that teach individuals how to "follow through" with the act of shifting their ideologies or behaviours, may be useful in strengthening traditional rhetorical arguments around topics like climate change or the gender binary.
TUGS is hosted yearly by the English graduate associations at the University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, and Wilfred Laurier University. Every year, the location and organizer committee for TUGS alternates to one of the three aforementioned universities. To see the full list of presenters at the 2019 TUGS, check out this link.