Date: 4:30pm EST February 4

Meet, Help, Becoming a Slave…to Better Understand History: Race and Agency in Educational Videogames

A Talk by Dr. Allison Page, Assistant Professor of Communication & Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University

In this presentation, Dr. Page examines the educational role-playing videogame Flight to Freedom, part of the Mission U.S. series of games designed to teach middle school students about the history of slavery in the United States. In Flight to Freedom, players inhabit the character Lucy, a 14-year-old girl enslaved in 1848, two years before the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. Set in northern Kentucky and southern Ohio, the game begins with Lucy on the “King plantation” outside Lexington. Divided into five parts plus prologue and epilogue, the game requires students to navigate choices provided in order to help Lucy “find a path to freedom.” Flight to Freedom is part of a larger curriculum with an interactive website featuring teacher’s guides, activities, and primary source documents. Through an analysis of the game as well as the broader educational agenda and policy discourse in which Flight to Freedom is situated, Dr. Page argues that the game is a technology of racialized citizenship that centers choice and individual agency while erasing white supremacy. The absence of racism or a critical discussion of whiteness teaches students, including those labeled as “risky,” a very safe kind of resistance and agency for the status quo, one that does not challenge white supremacy. In this way, Dr. Page places Flight to Freedom in a longer genealogy of public media’s civic and pedagogical efforts that work to govern race. Dr. Allison Page is assistant professor with a joint appointment in the  Humanities Institute and the Department of Communication and Theatre  Arts at Old Dominion University. Prior to joining the faculty at ODU, she  was Visiting Assistant Professor of New Media Studies at Hampshire  College, and also taught at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College.

Her work has been published in Television and New Media, the Journal of  Consumer Culture, Feminist Media Studies, and Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies. She is currently working on a book project preliminarily titled “The Affective Life of Slavery: Race, Media, and Governance.”  

This program is free and open to the public, sponsored by the Communication and Media Studies Department.