You are here

Soraya Murray

Portrait of Soraya Murray
Associate Professor, Film & Digital Media
Visual culture including art, film, video, and electronic games. Intersectional approaches to race, nation gender, and sexuality in visual representation.
Research Interests: 

Professor Soraya Murray is an interdisciplinary scholar who focuses on technology, science and visual culture, with particular interest in contemporary art, film and video games. Murray holds a Ph.D. in art history and visual studies from Cornell University. An Associate Professor in the Film & Digital Media Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Murray studies technological representations (such as the playable simulations of video games), as well as the representations of  advanced technology, science and innovation in film and visual culture. Murray's writings are published in Art JournalNka: Journal of Contemporary African ArtCTheoryPublic Art ReviewThird TextROMchipPAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, and Critical Inquiry. Her writings are anthologized nationally and internationally. Most recently, she has contributed to the anthology The Cambridge Companion to Nineteen Eighty-Four, ed. Nathan Waddell (Cambridge U. Press, 2020), How to Play Video Games, eds. Nina Huntemann and Matthew Payne (NYU Press, 2019); and Through the Black Mirror: Deconstructing the Side Effects of the Digital Ageeds. Terence McSweeney and Stuart Joy (Palgrave, 2019). Her two anthologized essays on the military game genre, gender and race may be found in Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games, eds. Jennifer Malkowski and TreaAndrea M. Russworm (Indiana University Press, 2017) and in Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming, eds. Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (The MIT Press, 2016). Murray's first book, On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space (I.B. Tauris, 2018), focuses on post-9/11 era mainstream games and considers how they both mirror and are constitutive of larger societal fears, dreams, hopes and even complex struggles for recognition. In February 2021, On Video Games will go to paperback.

See one of my public lectures

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.

Professor Murray is not accepting new graduate students for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Phone: 831-459-4947
Fax: 831-459-1341
Office: 109 Communications
please email for prompt reply
Selected Publications: 

“‘In this game that we’re playing’: Nineteen Eighty-Four and Videogames” in The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, ed. Nathan Waddell (Cambridge Companions to Literature) (Cambridge U. Press, 2020).

Journal of Cinema and Media Studies Vol. 60 (Fall 2020): Spotlight Interview by TreaAndrea Russworm.

“Horizons Already Here” in Art Journal Vol. 79, No. 2 [Special Forum on Games and Landscape] Summer 2020: pp. 42-113. Includes work by Soraya Murray, ed., Harun Farocki, Dorothy R. Santos, Alenda Chang, Tracy Fullerton, COLL.EO, Eugénie Shinkle and Hava Aldouby.

“Playing Whiteness in Crisis in The Last of Us and Tomb Raider” in ToDIGRA Special Issue: The Game is the Message, Selected Articles from the 2018 International DIGRA Conference Vol 4, No 3 (2019): 117-146.

“Augmented Reality Bites: Black Mirror’s “Playtest” and the Unstable Now” in eds. Terence McSweeney and Stuart Joy, Through The Black Mirror: Deconstructing the Side Effects of the Digital Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)

“The Triumphal Procession” in ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories Vol.1, No. 1 (July 2019).

Contribution to Special Issue: Feminist Media Histories: Special Issue: Genealogies of Feminist Media Scholarship: “Video Games and Playable Media” Vol. 4 No. 2 (Spring 2018), 214-219.

“Landscapes of Empire in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” Critical Inquiry 45, no. 1 (Autumn 2018): 168-198.

"The Work of Postcolonial Game Studies in the Play of Culture" in Open Library of Humanities . 4 ( 1 ) (March 2018)  DOI:

“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.

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
Teaching Interests: 

Cultural Studies and Visual Representation; Digital Media and Culture; Electronic Games, Media History and Theory; Contemporary Art; Issues of Cultural Globalization; Constructions of Identity; Technothrillers and Cinematic Representations of Advanced Technology.