L. Meghan Dennis

Research project

Representations of archaeology in media such as films and television have been historically problematic, frequently emphasizing bad practices, shoddy scholarship and ethically questionable professional behavior. In video-games, however, there is an additional dimension of experience, as the user, in effect, commits the acts themselves instead of viewing them passively.

The aims of this project follow two paths, distinct but impacting upon one another. The first path concerns perceptions of archaeology and archaeologists as created through video-games. The second concerns the ethics of practice in digital heritage and archaeology.

Concerning perceptual issues, the project seeks to understand whether depictions of archaeologists in video-games impact player perceptions of archaeologists as scientists. It attempts to contribute to contextualizing the relationship between representations of archaeological practices in the real and virtual worlds.

Concerning ethical practice, the project seeks to understand how ethics are being considered, or not, in evolving digital practice and digital heritage management. It attempts to isolate the ways in which practitioners are (or are not) considering the ethical implications of the digital components of their work, and how, if the situation isn’t addressed, those ethical issues may impact future practice. It finally attempts to establish an ethical standard of practice for archaeologists researching in video-games, both in theoretical and practical terms.

Meghan writes about her research at:

www.gingerygamer.com.

Profile

L. Meghan Dennis holds an MA degree in Archaeology and Heritage from the University of Leicester, a Graduate Certificate in Maya Studies from the University of Central Florida, and a BGS with a focus in Maya Studies from Texas Christian University. She has also trained at the University of Tennessee in their Anthropological Research Facility in Laboratory Methods and Forensic Taphonomy, and at the University of Geneva in International Cultural Heritage Law.

Meghan is an archaeologist with more than 10 years of experience in cultural resource management, historic preservation and research-based archaeology. She taught at the secondary and collegiate levels, ran her own archaeological consulting firm, and served as a community advisor regarding historical preservation compliance.

In addition to her archeological and preservation work, Meghan worked in online gaming for many years, both as a content developer and community manager. She remains an avid gamer and has maintained ties to several gaming communities. Her current doctoral research is the natural outgrowth of her time in archaeological consulting and the gaming industry, as she is focusing on representations of ethical (and not-so-ethical) archaeological practices within video games, immaterial spaces, and digital archaeologies.

Papers and Publications

Dennis, L.M., 2017. Unethical Pasts, Uncertain Presents, and Potential Futures: The Evolution of Archaeological Representation in Video Games. Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, USA, January 2017.

Dennis, L.M., 2017. “Archaeogaming, Ethics, and Participatory Standards”. SAA Archaeological Record, Vol 16, No. 5 (2016).

Dennis, L.M., 2017. Reclaiming “Ethics” in a Post-GamerGate World: Participatory Standards and the Establishment of an Ethical Framework of Practice in Archaeogaming . Eighth World Archaeological Conference, Kyoto, Japan, August 2016. (Session Chair)

Dennis, L.M., 2016. It’s a Bigger Problem than Lara Croft: Gendered Depictions of Archaeologists and STEM Professionals in Videogames. Eighth World Archaeological Conference, Kyoto, Japan, August 2016. (Session Chair)

Dennis, L.M., 2016. Bad Behavior and Good Guidelines: Applying the Society for American Archaeology’s Principles of Archaeological Ethics  to the Performance of Archaeology in Videogames. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, USA, April 2016.

Dennis, L.M., 2016. Looting, the Antiquities Trade, and Treatments of Mortuary Spaces in Dragon Age: Inquisition. The Interactive Pasts Conference, Leiden, The Netherlands, April 2016.

Dennis, L.M., 2015. Purple Engrams Wanted – Destiny’s Cryptarch and Issues of Unethical Archaeological Behavior in Videogaming. Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Glasgow, Scotland, September 2015.

Dennis, L.M., 2015. Leveling Up - Towards a Better Representation of Archaeology in Video Games. 3rd Annual Student Archaeology Conference at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 2015.

Dennis, L.M., 2015. Representations of Looting and Bad Practices as Entertainment. Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, USA, April 2015. (Session Chair)

Dennis, L.M., 2015. End-of-Life Choices and 19th Century North Georgia Cemeteries. Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, USA, January 2015.

Dennis, L.M., 2015. Inferences on Family Plot Scatterings. Annual Meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, USA, January 2015.

Dennis, L.M., 2012. Thoughts on the Influence of Human Culture on the Southern Landscape Since the Last Glaciation. Cullowhee Native Plant Conference, Cullowhee, USA, July 2012.

Dennis, L.M., 2004. Ramifications of Dental Evidence at Woodbury Creek. Monthly Meeting of the Tarrant County Archaeological Society, Fort Worth, USA, August 2004.

Dennis, L.M., 2004. Ramifications of Dental Evidence at Woodbury Creek. Annual Meeting of the Texas Archaeological Society, College Station, USA, August 2004.

Impact and Teaching

2017

History and Theory

Research Skills: Database Management

Archaeology and Heritage Field School (digital tools and production)

Forensic Archaeology

 

8Bit Test Pit Podcast, Archaeology Podcast Network

Outreach and Social Media Assistant, Department of Archaeology

 

2016

Archaeology and Heritage Field School (digital tools and production)

 

8Bit Test Pit Podcast, Archaeology Podcast Network

Outreach and Social Media Assistant, Department of Archaeology

 

2006-2014

Apart from her teaching in the United Kingdom, Meghan taught archaeology and anthropology within the Georgia State system of universities, and is certified by the Texas Education Association in Social Studies, and in Language Arts (8-12). She taught within the Texas system for 7 years, and was the coordinator for the campus AVID program, focusing on college preparedness and success for first generation college-bound students.

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Contact details

L. Meghan Dennis
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor
York
YO1 7EP

Tel: (44) 1904 433931
Fax: (44) 1904 433902

www.gingerygamer.com