Doug Guerra

Associate Professor


319 Marano Campus Center


My website

Office hours

Monday, Wednesday and Friday
12:00-1:00 & 3:00-4:00
or by appointment



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 102/650 MWF 11:30-12:25 118 Mahar Hall
ENG 236/800 MWF 1:50-2:45 323 Marano CC
ENG 387/800 MWF 10:20-11:15 323 Marano CC

ENG 102 COMPOSITION II: This course is designed to develop fundamental writing skills, emphasizing sentence, paragraph, and essay structure as well as standard American conventions of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

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: Memes, metaphors, and media, oh my! In this course, we will work together to understand the relationships and antagonisms of two dominant fixtures of twenty-first-century life: images and words. We will begin in highly conceptual territory, considering how language and pictures convey social knowledge as well as how they obscure it. But we will anchor these reflections to popular platforms like Tumblr and popular literature like that of Edgar Allan Poe. Wait, Poe? As in “Quoth the Raven?” As in, like, 1845?

 Yes, that Poe.              

 We will double-back nearly two hundred years because the nineteenth century was, in many ways, the birthplace of our current congestion of vision and text—the beginning of mass media in the daily newspaper (1833), the advent of photography and daguerreotypes (1839), and the development of urban space as a venue of signage, stagecraft, and advertisement (with 1841 seeing the landmark opening of P.T. Barnum’s American Museum in NYC). In the first half of the semester, we will use a mixture of material from that moment and our own to gain a contrastive view of the particular problems circulating around “representation,” “vision,” and “aesthetics” in literature, self-making, and pictorial media. Just as an eye exam requires a constant pivoting of views to gain clarity (“This or this.”), we will toggle between the 1800s and the present to raise questions, develop our thinking, and begin the work of becoming sensitive cultural theorists. In the second half of the semester, we will use what we’ve learned to unpack the complex and apocalyptic social visions depicted in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Toni Morrison’s Sula, and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.