Introducing: The Arthur Questionnaire – Liam Mitchell

The Arthur Questionnaire banner featuring Faryon Bridge from the east bank of the Otonabee. Photo by Kortney Dunsby.

The Arthur questionnaire is a new web-exclusive series. Vaguely inspired by Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire, the Arthur questionnaire asks Trent faculty and community members to offer pieces of “reading material” (loosely speaking) that have recently engaged them.

This week’s offerings come from Professor Liam Mitchell, who completed the questionnaire on October 12. Mitchell is the Chair of the Cultural Studies department as well as the coordinator of the Media Studies program at Trent. Here’s what he had to say:

“The “readings” here mostly reflect my own interests in the intersection between media and culture (and politics, and philosophy…).”

Paul Ford, “What Is Code?” (via Bloomberg)

““Code” is an empty signifier. It’s a little like “God”: we use the word without really knowing what it means, which, given its radical significance in structuring our lives, is a problem. This is a very long article, but it’s insightful, accessible, and fun.”

Innuendo Studios, “Why Are You So Angry?” (via YouTube)

“Back in 2015, Ian Danskin put together a six part video series making sense of Gamergate. It’s often described as a “controversy,” but using that term makes it possible for either side to appropriate it. For its mostly male perpetrators, Gamergate was a movement calling for ethics in games journalism. For its mostly female victims, Gamergate was a sustained, misogynistic campaign of harassment intended to produce suffering, fear, and silence. Danskin does a brilliant job of explaining the psycho-social reasons for the creation and partial success of that campaign.”

Jenn Frank, “Allow Natural Death” (via Unwinnable)

“Frank was one of the writers (temporarily) silenced by the Gamergate campaign, which is a shame: her style of writing, combining conventional cultural and games criticism with the memoir, was as beautiful as it was insightful. “Allow Natural Death” is a poignant, heartbreaking example of what innovative and personal writing can do.”

Nick Paumgarten, “Up and Then Down” (via The New Yorker)

“Back in 2008, before I had any idea of what “cultural criticism” or “cultural studies” was (let alone that I’d end up engaging in it myself), I came across this story about elevators. Elevators: boring, unremarkable, everyday elevators. Looking back on it now, I can see it as an early example of journalistic “infrastructuralism,” but at the time I just knew that it was good.”

Frank Lantz, Universal Paperclips.

“R E L E A S E T H E H Y P N O D R O N E S”


Want to participate in the Questionnaire? Email us at with the subject line “Arthur Web Questionnaire” for details.

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