Digital Arts and New Media: MFA: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Impact

You are here

Soraya Murray

Assistant Professor
Film and Digital Media

New media art, theory, and criticism. Visual culture including digital, film, video, and electronic games. Theories of technology and globalization. Representations of otherness, migration, citizenship

Research Interests: 

Professor Soraya Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar who focuses on contemporary visual culture, with particular interest in contemporary art, cultural studies and games. Murray holds a Ph.D. in art history and visual studies from Cornell University, and an MFA in Studio Art from the University of California, Irvine. An Assistant Professor in the Film & Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, she is also principal faculty in the Digital Arts & New Media MFA Program, and the Art, Games and Playable Media Program. Her writings are published in Art JournalNka: Journal of Contemporary African ArtCTheoryPublic Art ReviewThird TextGamesbeat and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. Her two anthologized essays on the military game genre, gender and race may be found in Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Gameseds. Jennifer Malkowski and TreaAndrea M. Russworm (Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2017) and in Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming, eds. Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (The MIT Press, 2016). Her article on the politics of identity and the poetics of form in Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is also forthcoming in the media studies journal Kinephanos in Winter 2016/17. Murray is currently completing a book-length consideration of games as quintessential forms of visuality within a twenty-first century context defined by political, cultural and economic conflict. Entitled On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space (I.B. Tauris, forthcoming 2017), her book considers how they both mirror and are constitutive of larger societal fears, dreams, hopes and even complex struggles for recognition.



See one of my public lectures  HERE

In 2017, my course, Video Games as Visual Culture was selected for the annual Arts Dean's Lecture Series. See more details of the innovative thinkers in games invited HERE.


Education and Training: 
Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
M.A., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
M.F.A., University of California, Irvine, CA
B.F.A., Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
Selected Publications: 

“The Poetics of Form and the Politics of Identity in Assassin's Creed III: Liberation” in Kinephanos: Journal of Media Studies and Popular Culture, "History of Gender in Games" Special Issue, ed.: Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin (Winter 2016/17)

"Race, Gender, and Genre in Spec Ops: The Line," Film Quarterly, Vol. 70, Iss. 2, (Dec 2016)

“Upending Militarized Masculinity in Spec Ops: The Line” in Pat Harrigan and Matthew Kirschenbaum, eds., Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016).

Conversation with Artist in Kori Newkirk: Sometimes Always Perhaps Never [artist monograph] (Los Angeles: LM Projects, 2015)

"Threeview: Thief reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic" in VentureBeat, March 21, 2014.

“Threeview: Grand Theft Auto V reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic" in VentureBeat 30, 2013.

"Threeview: The Last of Us reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic" in VentureBeat, July 1, 2013.

"Theorizing New Media in a Global Context; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love New Media" in FILE Festival Catalog, Electronic Language International Festival, 2013, organized by Paula Perissinotto e Richard Barreto (São Paolo, Brazil: Thaïs Costa, 2013), 10-23. [translated into Portuguese]

"Theorizing New Media in a Global Context; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love New Media" in CTheory /articles.aspx?id=713, published November 13, 2012.

"Seeing Differently" Book Review of Amelia Jones' Seeing Differently: A History and Theory of Identification and the Visual Arts, in Third Text, Vol. 26, Issue 6 (November, 2012): 781–783.

"Threeview: Call of Duty: Black Ops II reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic" in VentureBeat ops-ii/#mrJK2hur6sr24lMI.99, December 4, 2012.

"Threeview: Assassin’s Creed III reviewed by a critic, an analyst, and an academic" in VentureBeat iii/, November 20, 2012.

"Public Ritual:  William Pope.L and Exorcisms of Abject Otherness," in Public Art Review, 2010

"Digital Aesthetics: Two Handbooks" Book Review of Christiane Paul, New Media in the White Cube and Beyond and Victoria Vesna, Database Aesthetics in Art Journal, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Fall 2009): 112-115.

"Cybernated Aesthetics: Lee Bul and the Body Transfigured" in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 88 Vol. 30, No. 1 (May 2008): 38-50.

"On Art and Contamination: Performing Authenticity in Global Art Practices," Co-authored with Derek Conrad Murray, in Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art 22/23 (Spring/Summer 2008): 88-93.

"Uneasy Bedfellows: Canonical Art Theory and the Politics of Identity," Co-authored with Derek Conrad Murray, in Art Journal, Volume 65, Number 1 (Spring 2006): 22-39.

"Scratching the Surface" Book Review of Rhythm Science by Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid, Art Journal, Volume 64, Number 4: 133-135. 

"High Art/Low Life: Playing Grand Theft Auto" in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Volume 80 (May 2005): 91-98.

Selected Presentations: 

2017 Invitational Lecture: "On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space", Visual and Media Cultures Colloquia, Wednesday, UCSC, May 24, 2017.

2016 Panel Presentation: "Insert Diversity Here: Games and Their Dilemmas of Contextual Inclusion" in panel The Future of Militarism and Multiculturalism in Games at conference Extending Play Rutgers University, New Brunswick, September 30, 2016.

2016 Panel Presentation: "Is the "Culture" of Game Culture the "Culture" of Cultural Studies?" at Critical Game Studies, Institute for Virtual Environments & Computer Games, University of California, Irine, May 2, 2016.

2016 Invitational Lecture: "The Visual Politics of Video Games", Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, March 23, 2016.

2016 Panel Presentation: "Flaneur in the Microworld: the Procedural Art of 'ultrabrilliant's' Other Places" at New Media Caucus panel discussion: Procedural Art: Game Platforms for Creative Expression, College Art Association Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., February 2016.

2016 Panel Organizer: "The Visual Politics of Play: On The Signifying Practices of Digital Games," College Art Association Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., February 2016.

2015 The Queerness in Games Conference, UC Berkeley, CA, October 2015. FORTHCOMING

2015 History of Gender in Games Symposium at the Grande Bibliotheque in Montreal.

2015 Panel Organizer: "The Visual Politics of Play: On the Signifying Practices of Digital Games," in International Society for Electronic Arts, August 2015.

2015 Panel Presentation: "Three Faces of Aveline: Difference, GamerGate and the Visual Politics of Play", Canadian Game Studies Association, Special Digital Humanities joint panel: #Gamergate, Feminism, and Digitally Constituted  Communities, University of Ottawa, CANADA, June 3, 2015.

2015 "The Rubble and the Ruin: Spec Ops: The Line as Anti-War Game," Visual & Critical Studies Lecture, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, February 18, 2015.

2015 Roundtable Participant: Style Wars: Three Conversations on the Power of Style. The Dissident Dandy, "Global Modern Fabulous: Sartorialism, Blackness and the Politics of Self-Fashioning", Co-presented with Derek Conrad Murray, SFAQ Project Space, San Francisco, California, May 12, 2015. 

2015 Forum Moderator: "Digital Art and the Interstices of Identity", online forum moderator, Empyre Listserv, Archived by the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at Cornell University, Month of April 2015. 

2014 Roundtable Participant: Virtual Roundtable: The Future of Interactive Documentary, The Future of Storytelling: Reinventing the Way Stories Are Told. May 14, 2014 Online: 

2014 "Games, Connectedness and Radical Empathy Under Globalization" Leonardo Art / Science Evening Rendezvous, June 12, 2014, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.

2014  “Jefferson Pinder: Bodies Under Duress, Significative Potentials" in Contemporary Black Art and the Problem of Racial Fetishism, College Art Association 102nd Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 12, 2014.

2013 "The Rubble and the Ruin: Spec Ops: The Line as Anti-War Game" at College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, September 20, 2013.

2013 "Digital Sovereignty: A Cultural Perspective" at International Meeting on New Technologies in the Digital Age, Ventana Sur 2013, Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 4, 2013

2012 "Why Technology Needs Art; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love New Media," Art History and the Visual Arts, Occidental College, Los Angeles, April 2012.

2011  Panel Co-Chair: "Artmaking as New Knowledge: Research, Practice, Production," College Art Association Annual Conference, New York, February 2011.

2011  "Theorizing New Media in a Global Context" panel presentation in panel: Changing Perspectives on Digital Media in a Global Age, ISEA 2011, The 17th International Symposium on International art, Istanbul, Turkey, Chair: Yiannis Colakides, September 20, 2011.

Teaching Interests: 

Digital Media and Culture; Electronic Games, Cultural Studies as they intersect with Visual Representation; Media History and Theory; Contemporary Art; Film Studies; Issues of Cultural Globalization; Constructions of Identity.

Office: 831-459-4947
Fax: 831-459-1341
Office Location: 
Communications 109
please email for prompt reply