In 1996, William Sewell published one of the most important works in historical sociology, “Three Temporalities: Toward an Eventful Sociology” (working paper from 1990 available here!). The essay argued that classic works of sociology too often followed the wrong approaches to temporality. Iconic works of historical sociology often explicitly or implicitly invoked teleological or experimental modes of temporality. In contrast, Sewell argued that historical sociologists should instead approach temporality as eventful. Since then, historical sociologists have largely strived to do just that.
While thinking about Sewell’s schema for a paper I’m writing on Polanyi, I realized that the typology was useful for making sense of a very different context: roleplaying games (RPGs). In this post, I’ll briefly explain Sewell’s argument by showing how the three temporalities map onto three ways of playing D&D (or, really, any similar tabletop RPG). Unlike with historical sociology, I will not be making an argument that one way of playing is “better”, though I do think we can learn something from Sewell’s typology about why the modes of play analogous to teleological and experimental temporality are frequently unsatisfying, and about the ingredients of a good eventful campaign.
The idea of the hidden curriculum has a long history in sociology. As with most sociological terms (see also: culture, social capital, organization, structure, etc.), it’s easy to find a dozen different definitions floating around in the literature. In my own research, I talk about the hidden curriculum as the knowledge and skills that matter for student success but aren’t explicitly taught.
There’s a hidden curriculum at every level of schooling. From preschool to postdocs. In a recent thread on Twitter, I talked about the importance of uncovering the hidden curriculum. I talked about how important it is to talk about times we’ve been embarrassed or hurt by things we didn’t know.
The #hiddencurriculum of academia isn't just hidden from undergrads. It's hidden from grad students, too.
I'm sure we all had things we were embarrassed we didn't know in grad school. So let's tell those stories. I'll go first. (1/many)https://t.co/GOxjNthVB8