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Students play

The Greenlaw Hall Gameroom opened in late 2019. (photo by Megan May)

NEH grant will help develop critical games studies minor

Courtney Rivard, a teaching associate professor in the department of English and comparative literature, was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her project, “Integrating Storytelling & Critical Game Studies into the Curriculum.”

Rivard’s approximately $55,000 grant will support a yearlong curricular development and faculty training program on teaching with games. The grant will lead to the development of a critical games studies minor.

“Games have become a dominant medium to tell stories, and the humanities has a central role to play in analyzing ideas of narrative, representation and power in games,” said Rivard, who was also a 2021 Institute for the Arts and Humanities faculty fellow.

It is work that Rivard is currently doing as director of the department’s Digital Literacy and Communications Lab. In 2019, Rivard launched the DLC’s Gaming Initiative, culminating in UNC-Chapel Hill’s first game-based classroom, which opened in Greenlaw Hall in late 2019.

To Rivard, critical game studies would offer students an opportunity to view games as “texts in need of critical analysis.”

Rivard is one of two faculty members in the College who received recognition from the NEH. Letitia Guran, a teaching assistant professor in Romance studies, received a NEH-Mellon Fellowship to research and write a monograph exploring the power of Langston Hughes’ works on race in the Soviet Union and the United States.