Marco Arnaudo, a professor and director of graduate studies in the French and Italian department, is a specialist in Baroque and early modern literature. But the Italian-born scholar has a keen passion for other, newer subjects: comic books and war games, for example.
“As my wife says, I take everything seriously,” Arnaudo relates. “Some people do their scholarship and go home and read a comic book for fun. But when I read a comic book, I want to know everything: its history, its style, what it means.”
The same is true for the games he plays, especially war and fantasy games. Not only does Arnaudo maintain a YouTube channel (marcowargamer), which has 16,000 subscribers and more than 5 million views, but his motto in all his IU classes is Do Things with Games.
“Games have been with our species since the dawn of civilization,” he points out. In his classes, he uses games to teach about history, politics, and theatre. He has used games to help students learn about and compose sonnets, for example.
He is currently working on a book about branching, or interactive, fictions, which offer readers a choice of narrative paths to follow through a novel. The genre originated in the 1970s in children’s and young adult literature. But, says Arnaudo, the form “came to a screeching halt in the ’90s," with the advent of video games. Now, because of “digital fatigue,” he says, “people are returning to the idea of holding a book and flipping through pages.”
But his interest in games does not mean he takes scholarship and the humanities lightly—far from it. Recently he sat down to discuss an issue that humanities majors must often confront.