Doug Guerra

Assistant Professor


319 Marano Campus Center


My website

Office hours

Monday, Wednesday & Friday
12:30 - 1:30 & 2:45 - 3:30
or by appointment

Spring 2019 Schedule

Douglas Guerra

At SUNY Oswego, I teach courses in American literature, media theory, popular culture (especially games from the mid-nineteenth century through the twenty-first), and the relationships between technological innovation, aesthetic form, and social arrangement. My recent book, Slantwise Moves: Games, Literature, and Social Invention in the Nineteenth-Century United States (UPenn Press 2018), analyzes nineteenth-century games as materialized theories of action, using them to understand invisibilized and ephemeral pleasures that both structured and troubled what it meant to associate in the broader civic sphere. I have published articles in American Literature and ESQ, and my work has been supported by fellowships from the Brian Sutton-Smith Archives of Play at the Strong Museum, the American Antiquarian Society, Penn State's "First Book Institute," and the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Ph.D., Loyola University Chicago, 2011
BA, University of Chicago, 2001

Classes taught


ENG 220/800 MWF 11:30-12:25 323 Marano CC
ENG 236/800 MWF 1:50-2:45 323 Marano CC
ENG 387/800 MWF 10:20-11:15 323 Marano CC

ENG 220 MODERN CULTURE & MEDIA-“Ubiquitous Media.” What is “media” and how does it affect the way we live our lives? Though we may often think of “the media” simply as something ephemeral—the daily cycle of twenty-four-hour television news, the scrolling feeds of social networks, the crumpled and ink-smeared pages of print publications—our engagement with it affects us in sustained and sustaining ways. As the very substance and texture of everyday life, it can change who we are, how we think, and what we think to do. In this course, we’ll begin to define more precisely what media is, how it produces such widespread effects, and what it can tell us about ourselves and our world. We’ll approach this by reading several authors who use the concepts of media and mediation to describe broader cultural themes, and we’ll also use hands on “lab sessions” with historically significant video games to explore the ways that people have reflected on the mediation of identity and social interaction in more playful settings. In the process, we’ll hone our skills as analysts and interpreters, learning how to engage with media from a range of theoretical perspectives while also examining its basic structures—as well as its more complicated, confusing, even troubling ones.

ENG 236 AMERICAN LITERATURE: CIVIL WAR-PRESENT-“The Real, the Utopian, and the Half-Real.” Often when we say something is utopian, we in fact mean, it is impractical, impossible, and (likely) unadvisable. In popular thought, the utopian is a fool—a foil for the practical thinker, the realist who will “tell it like it is.” Yet in the United States, a country deeply motivated by the “dreams” of its inhabitants, there has always been a productive tension between the dreamer and the realist—a tension reflected historically by the generic conventions of the Realist novel, on the one side, and the Romance or Utopian narrative on the other. By tracking foundational works that established these prevailing strains of literature in the United States—as well as experimental work existing between and complicating these poles—this course will examine the U.S. cultural imaginary from the end of the Civil War through the current moment. In addition to exploring these themes, this course will also strengthen students’ skills in close reading, argumentative writing, and analytical discussion. Readings will include works by Mark Twain, Henry James, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, and Junot Díaz. 

ENG 387 VISION AND TEXTUALITY-“I See What You’re Saying.” Who hasn’t uttered some version of this phrase before? Mundane. And yet, if we really look at it, this everyday expression illustrates that the distinction between vision and text is always, well, blurry. From pictures that tell a story, to our generally held notions that a good book paints pictures with words, vision and text consistently and messily define each other in often frustrating and interminable loops. The inability to define one without the other—even as we commonly assume pictures and texts are distinct entities—often means that one lingers in the other, structuring it subtly. They haunt and perhaps even curse one another. In this course we will begin to unpack the relationship between these two terms by looking at fictions that highlight the link between vision, text, and curse—between the visionary as an agent of change and the historical documentarian as a reminder of what remains the same. We'll also look at both digital and analog tools for "visualization," thinking about how alterations of view are being used in analytical settings to extend and sometimes occlude social vision.