Brandon R. Rogers
PhD Student, Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media
North Carolina State University
About Brandon R. Rogers
I am currently a second-year PhD student in the Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM) program at North Carolina State University. My research primarily triangulates media studies, health humanities, and the rhetoric of health and medicine. In particular, I study how popular media outlets such as television and videogames disseminate health discourses and encourage users to embody certain reactions to healthcare threats and responsibilities. I also research how these technologies and protocols mediate masculinity to the benefit or detriment of bisexual men’s health. My work attempts to ascertain how ideas about health are shaped in contexts and/or communities that have typically been underserved – so as to better tailor digitally mediated healthcare interventions.
Rogers, Brandon. “‘Dude, How Much Health Do You Have Left?’: On Masculinity and the Rationalization of Health in Video Games.” In Diseases in Digital Games: Theories, Topics, Analyses. (Accepted abstract, in progress)
Rogers, Brandon. “The Last Dragonborn: Harbinger of the Companions and Veterans.” In 100 Greatest Video Game Characters. Edited by Robert Mejia, Jaime Banks, and Aubrie Adams, 107-8. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017.
Winderman, Emily, Robert Mejia, and Brandon Rogers. “Miasmic Sacrifices: The Miasmic Sanitary-Bacteriologic of Visceral Public Health.” Rhetoric of Health and Medicine. (Forthcoming).
Rogers, Brandon. “Destructive Tumbleweeds And Werebeavers: Attuning to Time and Space in Don’t Starve Together.” First Person Scholar. http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/destructive-tumbleweeds-and-werebeavers/
Overview of Courses
STS 302: Contemporary Science, Technology, and Human Values
This course provides an interdisciplinary evaluation of recent and potential influences of current
bioscientific and technological developments as they are seen, taught, and enacted through
popular media. Our course addresses medical bioscience through movies, television, books,
board games, video games, and the like to question the distinctions between fact and fiction,
consumer and creator, and healthcare and sick-care. Our course will engage some challenging
cultural theory and will also include readings from biomedical fields, media studies, health
humanities, the history of medicine, and medical anthropology. We will ask fundamental
questions about how biomedical knowledge production intertwines with various forms of
entertainment. Furthermore, we’ll investigate the consequences of these representations and
assumptions to follow the trail of power—thereby tracing the subjects and omissions of what we
might call a “biomedical-cultural complex”.
At the beginning of each semester, I introduce myself to my students with a brief presentation. The first slide reads, “Welcome to the tutorial.” My role as an instructor, as this phrase suggests, is to guide students through unfamiliar territories and practices until they can guide themselves to their own discoveries. I therefore believe that the goal of learning is to acquire the skills that make one confident and capable enough to understand the familiar and question the unknown. Intellectual discovery burgeons from this intersection of knowledge and confusion.
My students enter my courses always already immersed in a world of media, yet very few of them recognize how these media operate as products and producers of complex power relations that inform and circumscribe our identities, values, and material engagements with the world. I want students to understand that media do more than entertain or distract us; they also act as instruments of social control that contribute to our understandings of race, gender, sexuality, health, and wellbeing (among a plethora of other things). To accomplish this objective, I structure my class around a main tenet of queer scholarship: making the ‘natural’ unnatural. The major goal of this method is to emphasize the processes by which some phenomenon become invisible and others hypervisible.
A prime example of this approach can be seen in one of my assignments for Science, Technology, and Contemporary Human Values. As part of their midterm project, I ask my students (who are mostly majors in the hard sciences) to interrogate why they think that an article of their choosing is a valid source of knowledge. I then instruct them to tell me how certain genre conventions mediate such things as authority, credibility, and objectivity. In their first drafts, many of these students fall back on their scientific training and describe their article’s findings and limitations. They then make a judgment call on whether the article uses “good science.” In the follow-up workshop, I juxtapose blog posts and scientific articles on the same topic. I then ask them to tell me why they place more authority in one genre than the other. Here, they point out such things as citations, the scientific method, statistics, and the peer review process. By analyzing what makes an article scientific, students begin to recognize the processes and mechanisms that direct power and authority to certain ways of knowing; thereby making ‘objective knowledge’ much less familiar.
In addition to written assignments such as this, I typically organize my classroom into three stages: 1) theoretical foundations, 2) contemporary examples, and 3) student application. These interconnected areas flow through my syllabi. In overview courses such as Science, Technology, and Contemporary Human Values, I structure the reading list along these categories. I begin by introducing students to the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the current discussion topic. Then, I assign readings that use this theory (either implicitly or explicitly) to analyze contemporary artifacts. For example, in a class period devoted to Men’s Health and Masculinity, I have students read an article on the “healthy male citizen,” and then provide readings that critically engage with men’s health issues in popular media outlets such as Grindr and AMC’s television show Mad Men. At the end of the semester, students apply these methods to media of their choice.
Following my role as a tutorial or guide, my classroom discussions also follow these stages. At the beginning of each class, I provide a brief lecture about the new or unfamiliar theoretical territory. Next, I offer discussion questions about the readings that apply the theory. I encourage students to look for connections between abstract ideas and the concrete examples. Then, I transition into activities that allow students to apply what they’ve learned to their weekly wikis—popular press articles, advertisements, video clips, web pages, or any other recent media that they think relate to the issues raised in the readings. This process of lecturing, questioning, and applying methods provides students with the abilities to comprehend the materials and apply them to their areas of interest.
Inclusive and safe atmospheres are paramount for successful education in online, offline, and hybrid courses. I attempt to create these environments through discussion workshops and integrating various ways to engage with the course material. For example, at the beginning of the semester, I play a remix of Alt J’s song “Breezeblocks” that distorts the lyrics beyond recognition. I ask the students to offer some suggestions for what the song is saying and their rationale behind what they heard. I then reveal that the strange lyrics are in fact a play on a line from Where the Wild Things Are: “Please don’t go. I’ll eat you whole.” I use this example to explain confirmation bias—the prejudiced practice of looking only for the evidence that supports one’s original viewpoint. I then encourage the students to engage with different perspectives and evidence before formulating a response. This technique highlights active listening in the classroom, critical approaches to media studies, and works towards my goal of making the natural unnatural by situating phenomena within a constellation of factors.
Furthermore, I also provide interaction across different media. I recognize that students have different personalities, learning methods, and ways of engaging with the course material. I therefore promote discussions in both online and offline settings. For students who learn better through text, Slack or Moodle discussions allow them the space and time to formulate their ideas in case the impromptu in-class discussions don’t fit their learning or discussion styles. I also incorporate corollaries to the readings in different formats. For example, in the week when we read about Mad Men, I play the clip mentioned in the article. This multimodal method allows students to figure out how they learn best and motivates them to question normative forms of knowledge production.
My pedagogical approach therefore focuses on urging students to investigate the media that they take for granted in their everyday lives. I structure my courses so that they can critically question, problematize, and advocate for or against various media applications. Teaching operates as an extension of my research; every time that I enter a classroom, I orient the discussion at the intersection of knowledge and confusion so that we can all leave with new questions and insights. Students leave my courses with a heightened awareness of their contemporary mediascape and a skillset that allows them to become civic-oriented practitioners of productive criticism.
Get in Touch
Feel free to contact me if you have questions about my published work, course offerings, or any other inquires.