Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Carded (Updated)

Since I clearly have nothing substantive to read and write about…

Adorno Theory CardI seem to remember L Magee having an idea like this some months backtheorycards:

The Trading Cards are a pack of 32 online cards featuring theorists and concepts close to the hearts of people interested in social and cultural theory, gender and identity, and media studies.

It’s very funny – I was just telling someone yesterday that Adorno is most widely known as “that guy who wrote elitist things on popular culture”. What timely confirmation! ;-P

My favourite description, though, has to be of Luhmann, whose answer to the question “what are your research plans” I might consider borrowing…

Hat tip Wildly Parenthetical – whose post also preserves a priceless reflection on the theoretical symptomology of styles of baldness.

Updated to add: Andrew over at Union Street seems to think these trading cards are “tokens to true nerdiness” – but hasn’t he seen the game that goes along with them? Doesn’t he believe most people would want to spend their evenings doing something like this?

1. Divide cards between players.

2. Decide who will go first.

3. The player whose turn it is, studies the card on top of their pile and selects either ‘Strengths‘, ‘Weaknesses / Risks‘ or ‘Special Skills‘.

4. All players then look at their own top card, and discuss who has got the best characteristic in this category.

For example:

— The Giddens risk, “Misguided postmodernists may attack”, is preferable to the Butler weakness, “Increasingly impenetrable writing style”. (It doesn’t matter if some postmodernists misunderstand your argument and slag you off. But if no-one can understand your argument in the first place, that’s bad). So here, when comparing ‘Weaknesses / Risks‘ , the player with the Giddens card wins (unless someone else’s card beats theirs).

— The Foucault strength, “Model of power innovative and realistic” is better than the Psychologists strength, “Resistance to postmodern self-doubt”. (Self-belief isn’t much of a contribution to the world, but good ideas are). So here, when comparing ‘Strengths‘ , the player with the Foucault card wins (unless someone else’s card beats theirs).

5. The winning player takes one card — the card which just lost that battle — from each other player.

6. If several players are involved, the discussions about who has the superior characteristic on their card will inevitably be more complex. In case of dispute, a majority vote decides the outcome. If this still does not decide it, then for God’s sake, go and watch TV instead or something.

7. The player with all (or most) of the cards at the end, wins.

Actually, my reading group sessions sort of work like this already… (Hmm… I wonder what sorts of cards could be written about the reading group members… ;-P)

4 responses to “Carded (Updated)

  1. Pingback: I’ll trade my Luhmann for your… « Union Street

  2. Andrew September 8, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I am humbled and abashed…I truly did not see what I did not see. :o)

  3. rob September 10, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve got a similar set of cards that pre-date these online ones.

    They’re “Philosopher All-Stars” trading cards, and they came bundled with a copy of Mark Achbar’s Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (The Companion Book to the Award-Winning Film by Peter Wintonick and Mark Achbar) that someone gave me as a birthday present many years ago (1995?).

    They’re not quite as functional the online ones (I certainly can’t imagine designing a game around them) and the choices for “All-Star” status are highly contentious, but if there are any completist theory-card collectors (double your nerdiness!) out there who are interested, I’m open to offers…

  4. N Pepperell September 12, 2007 at 9:40 am

    rob – Now that’s very funny. Over at Andrew’s site, it looked as though there might be something of a market – maybe the time is right for an Ebay auction, with strategically-placed ads at select critical theory blogs…

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