Snodgrass Wins Award for The Avatar Faculty

March 2024

Josh Zaffos

Professor wearing hoodie sweatshirt holding copy of book
Professor Jeffrey Snodgrass holding a copy of The Avatar Faculty.

Professor Jeffrey Snodgrass has won a 2023 Choice Award, Outstanding Academic Title, for his book, The Avatar Faculty, published by University of California Press. Choice Awards are given by the Association of College and Research Libraries and recognize the roughly top 10%, best scholarly titles published each year, and helps elevates books among academic and higher-ed libraries.

Snodgrass is a cultural and psychological anthropologist who examines how ritual and play identities and processes contribute to health and well-being, including in situations of social and environmental uncertainty. His research has explored virtual worlds and online social communities, and he also specializes in research methods and mixed qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis through ethnographic studies.

Snodgrass gave the keynote address at the 2024 American Academy of Religion Southwest Regional Conference in April 2024, speaking on “Harnessing the Therapeutic Potential of Avatar Identities: The Religious Parallels and Health Dynamics of Contemporary Role-Playing Games.” He has also presented on his findings from the book and his research during Winter 2024 through virtual research talks for McMaster University (Canada) and the University of Oxford (UK) Digital Ethnography Group.

In The Avatar Faculty, Snodgrass examines the parallels between spiritual and digital activities to explore the roles that symbolic second selves — avatars — play in our lives. Snodgrass argues that avatars allow for the ecstatic projection of consciousness into alternate realities, potentially providing both the spiritually possessed and gamers access to superior secondary identities with elevated social standing.