I started blogging with Typepad in 2003. Later I moved to WordPress (mostly public) and then to GitHub (mostly private). Now I’m here, with a static site. The entries below share work in progress and include posts I migrated from previous blogs. Clicking or tapping a title gives you a permalink.

2024-25 Media Studies Courses

10 May 2024

I’m thrilled to say UVic Media Studies is offering five courses in 2024-25. That’s more than double the number we offered this year.

I’ll teach MDIA 200, “Media in the 21st Century,” in the Fall and Spring. Pierre-Luc Landry (French and Francophone Studies) will teach our inaugural section of MDIA 300, “Critical Media Practice,” and Janelle Jenstad (English) will teach MDIA 350, “Cultures of the Book,” for the second time. We’ve a new course on the books, too: MDIA 360, “Game Studies,” which Sara Humphreys (ATWP) will teach in the Fall and I’ll teach in the Spring, and Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier (Anthropology) will teach our inaugural section of MDIA 375, “Cultures of Sound.” We’ve an exciting year ahead!


9 May 2024

Nerd alert! I took a minute earlier this week to populate my Open Researcher and Contributor ID record. I created some entries manually; however, many of them were generated automatically by BASE, Scopus, Crossref Metadata, The Lens, MLA’s international bib, and the like. The automatically generated data is nowhere near perfect. I encountered numerous errors, but I suppose those hiccups are the tradeoff for efficiency and ease of use. I’ll be interested to observe the benefits and drawbacks of using ORCID over a period of five or so years. More from me in 2030?

The Play of Genre in Video Games

19 April 2024

Yesterday, I gave a keynote at “Re-Imagining the Victorians,” facilitated by Brooke Cameron and Sydney Wildman at Queen’s University. My talk drew material from my current book project. I called it, “Victorian Activities and the Play of Genre in Video Games.” After surveying what the Victorian period teaches us about games today, I focused on two neo-Victorian games: 80 Days and Strange Horticulture. The Q&A was fantastic, as were other talks at the conference. Peruse the program if you’ve a moment.

Many thanks to Brooke and Sydney for hosting me. I look forward to more discussions at the intersections of Victorian Studies and Game Studies.

Congrats to Margaret Kilcline and ODU

12 March 2024

Check this out! Some wonderful news from ODU: “It’s compact in size, but there’s nothing small about the ambitions behind a new, humanities-focused makerspace at Old Dominion University. Called mpark, it opened late 2023 in Room 2027 of the university’s Batten Arts and Letters Building. Outfitted with a 3D printer, Arduino electronics learning kits, sewing machines, video recorders, cameras, printers and other tools and software, it functions as a miniature makerspace ‘that nurtures nonhierarchical collaborations across disciplines,’ wrote Margaret Kilcline/Konkol, an assistant professor of American literature and digital humanities and director of the new workshop.”

Margaret adds: “I got my first taste of the magic of makerspaces at University of Victoria’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute. Jentery Sayers and Matt Huculak and others were at the center of an exciting makerspace movement in the UVic English Department and over the course of a one-week intensive workshop (I call it nerd camp at its finest), they introduced me and about 15 other souls to modeling and prototyping using SketchUp, AutoCAD, Arduinos, and laser cutters.”

Thanks for the nod, Margaret. Everyone here at the Praxis Studio is pulling for you and mpark.

Chatting about Games with UVic’s ESA

5 February 2024

I had a lively conversation with Leia Soulsbury and Braedon Lowey on the Clearihue Corner podcast produced by UVic’s English Students’ Association. We talked about games and interactive fiction from a literary perspective, and we wandered into other topics as well: from play, labor, romance, and the economy of games to issues of representation, self-expression, adaptation, design, and narration. The conversation is Episode 5 in Season 4 of the Clearihue Corner, and it’s titled “Interactive Fiction Is All Fun and Games.” Thanks so much, Leia and Braedon, for the invitation and taking the time to speak with me. I was chatty! Also, your description of the episode makes me smile:

“You are scrolling through Spotify and stop at a podcast called the Clearihue Corner.
This episode features a professor named Jentery Sayers, and seems to be about fiction in interactive forms: twine games, video games, choose your own adventure novels, and more. It features in depth discussion about how to analyze and talk about these kinds of narratives. Would you like to listen?
You press play, and the podcast begins.”

Degrowing Digital Projects

18 November 2023

I just wrapped up a brief visit to Texas A&M’s Center of Digital Humanities Research (CoDHR), where I met with faculty, students, and staff to discuss various topics, including games, pedagogy, infrastructure, data visualization, and minimal computing. I also gave a talk as part of their Digital Humanities Speaker Series. I titled it, “Degrowing Digital Projects.” CoDHR made a neat poster for the event, and here’s my abstract:

“While digital projects in the humanities are frequently associated with innovation, less attention may be paid to their care and maintenance over time. This talk draws from recent research in activity theory and minimal computing as well as allied fields, such as game studies, to address the ‘degrowth’ of digital projects from the labor perspective. First, I outline the motives and trajectories of this perspective, and then I communicate the importance of value-sensitive design to determining three things: 1) a project’s needs and desires, 2) what work is required and from whom, and 3) how to sustain the labor involved. Degrowth aims to reduce computation’s alienating effects in the interests of social organization and collective expertise, and it does so by foregrounding the cultures and habits of digital projects over their technical particulars. These issues matter for the livelihood of practitioners as gig economics and precarious labor become the norm in the technology sector.”

Many thanks to Maura Ives, Bryan Tarpley, Kayley Hart, and everyone in Texas A&M’s digital humanities working group for hosting me. It was a fabulous time.

Congrats to Julie Funk

15 July 2023

Congratulations to UVic English-CSPT PhD student, Julie Funk, who was awarded the 2023-24 Dean’s Dissertation Year Scholarship in the Humanities. Julie’s dissertation engages storytelling across contemporary media to address the biopower and neoliberal management of hormones.

UVic Now Has a Media Studies Program

1 July 2023

It’s official! UVic now has a Media Studies program. Students can earn a certificate in the field by completing only 10.5 units of study, and our new courses include “Media in the 21st Century” (MDIA 200), “Critical Media Practice” (MDIA 300), “Cultures of the Book” (MDIA 350), “Cultures of Sound” (MDIA 375), and “Topics in Media Studies” (MDIA 490). I am honored and excited to be serving as the program’s Acting Director.

Audio and Genre: A Video Essay

3 May 2023

Thanks to Samuel Adesubokan and Asia Tyson for presenting with me during SpokenWeb 2023 at the University of Alberta this week. I produced my first video essay for this conference, on the topic of game audio and activity theories of genre. I hope to polish and publish it relatively soon.

Audiobooks in the Classroom

1 May 2023

Michelle Levy at SFU interviewed me for an episode of the SpokenWeb podcast. It was a fascinating conversation titled, “Audiobooks in the Classroom” (54:51). Here’s a description: “What does it mean to ‘read’ an audiobook? What happens when we teach literary audio in the university classroom? How can we prepare our students for success in reading and listening to audio literature? Featuring a round-table conversation with graduate students Ghislaine Comeau, Andy Perluzzo, Ella Jando-Saul and Maia Harris at Concordia University and an interview with Dr. Jentery Sayers from the University of Victoria, this episode, hosted by Dr. Michelle Levy and SFU graduate student Maya Schwartz, thinks through the challenges and opportunities of inviting audiobooks into the literary classroom.” Thank you, Michelle and Maya!

On Generative AI

17 March 2023

Thanks to Neil Ernst, director of UVic’s Matrix Institute, for hosting Callum Curtis, Yun Lu, Valerie Irvine, George Tzanetakis, and me to discuss the current state of generative AI. It was a pleasure. Here are my notes and references. I raised the question of whether language can even be modelled, and I suggested one approach to generative AI may be to keep it social: to organize around it and negotiate with it, if only by slowing it down a bit.

Modelling Games as Activity Systems

9 February 2023

Many thanks to Sowmya Somanath, Brandon Haworth, Nishant Mehta, and Valerie King in UVic Computer Science for inviting me to give a lecture as part of the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences’ “Mathematics of Ethical Decision Making” series. Midori Ogasawara, Patricia Cochran, and Freya Kodar joined me on the panel, and I spoke about ways to model games as activity systems, a topic that corresponds with my current book project on how genres constitute play in video games.

Reframing Failure

25 January 2023

Many thanks to Michael Donnay and Anna-Maria Sichani for inviting me to participate in the University of London’s School of Advanced Study panel on “Reframing Failure.” I enjoyed my conversation with Jenny Mitcham, Arianna Ciula, Sara Namusoga-Kaale, Frances Corry, and Jane Winters.

Congrats to Asia Tyson

18 January 2023

Congrats to UVic English major (honours) and Praxis Studio RA, Asia Tyson, on receiving the 2023 Peter and Ana Lowens University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections Fellowship. Asia’s research attends to several techno-anarchist zines in UVic’s collections.

UVic News in The Martlet

22 December 2022

Many thanks to Atum Beckett and The Martlet for interviewing me about changes coming to UVic’s Faculty of Humanities and English Department. I’m looking forward to next steps.

Wrapping up Player Stories, Part 2

18 November 2022

The Praxis Studio just wrapped up another engaging series of “Player Stories.” Many thanks to Whitney “Strix” Beltrán, Maddy Myers, Leonard J. Paul, and Amanda Phillips for taking the time to speak with us about everything from game audio and narrative design to Bayonetta and Portal.

Games in Action

7 November 2022

I gave an invited talk at UBC’s stellar “Games in Action” conference this weekend. The topic was “Player Stories without Platforms,” and in it I did my best to articulate game studies with minimal computing from the labor perspective. Many thanks to Jess Wind and Carina Kom for speaking on the “Technologies of Control and Liberation” panel with me and to Danielle Wong for moderating. Thanks as well to Chris Patterson, David Gaertner, and Grace Wood for inviting me to participate in such a timely and compelling event. Recordings of every “Games in Action” talk and panel are now online.

Social Justice and New Media Reading List

27 June 2022

Thank you, David Gaertner, for including Making Things and Drawing Boundaries on your social justice and new media reading list. I’m honored and in esteemed company. I really appreciate this framing, too: “The following reading list represents a small space . . . for those who are looking to get started: a jumping off point. No more excuses. I’ve been inspired by all of these texts and go back to them often. If you want a job making video games, editing films, building apps, or programming AI, let technology be just one small piece of your training. Let the remainder be an ongoing relationship with power and the politics of storytelling.”

School of Video Game Audio

2 May 2022

I’m a student again! This year I’m taking a course on Wwise, sound design, and dynamic dialogue with Leonard J. Paul and Jordan Guerette at the School of Video Game Audio based in Vancouver. I’ll be learning to construct an audio demo reel for industry, with feedback along the way from Viviana Caro. I’m excited to get started.

Wrapping up Player Stories

15 April 2022

The Praxis Studio is wrapping up our 2021-22 “Player Stories” series. It’s been absolutely fantastic! Many thanks to Misao Dean, Abby Fry, Julie Funk, Braeden Hallman, Sara Humphreys, and Asia Tyson for presenting. Here’s a brief description: “Among the most fascinating aspects of games are the stories players tell with them. This speaker series attends to how we study, document, and narrate play.”

Congrats to Carol Linnitt

10 March 2022

Congratulations to UVic English and CSPT alum, Dr. Carol Linnitt, on receiving UVic’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Linnitt wrote a magnificent dissertation on “world unmaking” in the fiction of Delany, VanderMeer, and Jemisin and is currently the executive editor of The Narwhal.

Back in the Classroom

8 September 2021

I’m returning to the classroom for the first time since 12 March 2020, when UVic transitioned to online formats in response to COVID-19. I’m a bit nervous about it all, but I’m also looking forward to teaching “Contemporary Media and Fiction” this term. Fingers crossed.

Designing Prompts for Literary Audio Studies

20 May 2021

Yesterday, I presented with Samuel K. Adesubokan, Julie Funk, and Faith Ryan at the 2021 SpokenWeb Symposium. The topic of our talk was “Designing Prompts for Literary Audio Studies,” which was part of a plenary panel on “Teaching with Sound / Sound and Pedagogy.” We had the pleasure of presenting alongside Nicole Brittingham Furlonge, and Aphrodite Salas was kind enough to moderate. Many thanks to the SpokenWeb team for hosting us during this terrific event.

Scholarly Podcasts

17 April 2021

The BC Studies journal published a four-episode podcast about . . . making scholarly podcasts! Many thanks to producer, Isabelle Ava-Pointon, for interviewing Brenna Clarke Gray, David Gaertner, Michael Faris, Kyle Stedman, Charles Woods, and me as part of it all. These four episodes are a wonderful resource for faculty, students, and staff who are curious about podcasting but unsure where to begin.

From Prototyping to Worldbuilding

26 March 2021

Yesterday I gave a talk online as part of Lawrence Technology University’s “Humanity + Technology” series. I spoke about how “prototyping the past” might apply to the practice of worldbuilding. The talk was recorded, and I published my slides. Thanks to Paul Jaussen, Franco Delogu, Emily Kutil, and LTU’s College of Architecture and Design for inviting me, and for archiving all the “Humanity + Tech” events, including talks by Alenda Chang and Katherine Hayles.

SpokenWeb Interviews the Praxis Studio

27 February 2021

Many thanks to SpokenWeb researcher, Emma Telaro, for interviewing Julie Funk, Faith Ryan, and me about our Praxis Studio research on all things audio. It was a great discussion! Julie unpacked the significance of machine listening to literary and cultural studies, Faith engaged disability studies and listening as a form of access, and I talked about works of audio I enjoy teaching.

The MLA Published My Third Book

2 December 2020

Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities is here! Published online and open access by the Modern Language Association, I hope it becomes a useful resource for instructors and many others. A million thanks to my co-editors, Rebecca Frost Davis, Matt Gold, and Kathy Harris, for working with me over the years on this one and for writing a fantastic introduction to the collection.

Internal Grant for Experimental Worldbuilding

1 September 2020

UVic awarded me an internal grant to conduct research on experimental worldbuilding in games and speculative fiction. All the funds will support graduate students in the Praxis Studio. We’ll spend the next two years examining how compelling worlds are not only imagined but also constructed for players, with an emphasis on the politics and design of indie games. Many thanks to UVic for this opportunity. It’s the spark we all needed right now.

Delia Derbyshire

12 June 2020

Thanks to Jason Camlot, Yuliya Kondratenko, and everyone at SpokenWeb for inviting me to conduct a virtual listening session on the topic of Delia Derbyshire’s compositions for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. I produced some rough and still unfinished notes for the session that guided us through multiple (if not contradictory) ways of listening to Derbyshire’s work as an entanglement of sound and science fiction. This event was tremendous fun. The discussion was rich, and I enjoyed witnessing people’s responses to what they heard.

Response to COVID-19

16 March 2020

Following UVic’s recommendations, I’m transitioning my teaching and lab research to online formats for the remainder of the term. I hope you are keeping as well as can be right now.

SpokenWeb Receives SSHRC Grant

25 September 2019

Congratulations to Jason Camlot and the SpokenWeb team on receiving a SSHRC Partnership Grant, which “aims to develop coordinated and collaborative approaches to literary historical study, digital development, and critical and pedagogical engagement with diverse collections of literary sound recordings from across Canada and beyond” (“About SpokenWeb”). I’m thrilled to be a collaborator on this fantastic project, and everyone at the Praxis Studio is looking forward to contributing to the SpokenWeb’s pedagogy initiatives.

The MLab Is Now the Praxis Studio

24 September 2019

It’s official: The Maker Lab in the Humanities is now the Praxis Studio for Comparative Media Studies. We’ve wanted to change the MLab’s name for some time now, and the timing is perfect, as we’ll also relocate to UVic’s Clearihue building, which houses the University’s Faculty of Humanities. Thanks to the Faculty and the Department of English for their continued support. We will no longer update the MLab’s website, but I will continue to direct our research under the Lab’s new name. Exciting times!

The Pedagogy of Paper Computers

22 May 2019

This week, I gave a Connect U 2019 talk at UVic on the pedagogy of “Paper Computers,” a graduate seminar on tabletop game design I taught last fall. Here are my slides. They include a rationale for the course as well as some photographs of games that students prototyped. During the talk, I explained how and why “Paper Computers” encouraged students to develop procedural literacy, experiment with low-tech methods, engage histories and cultures of media, understand contexts of play and use, design critically, and connect with communities of practice. I then articulated these six areas with the notion of prototyping the past: in this case, making games informed by literary and political movements from the 19th and 20th centuries. Thanks to UVic for inviting me to speak at this event, and to David Leach for joining me. It was a pleasure.

Low-Tech Approaches to Digital Research

26 February 2019

Today I gave a talk during an NEH ODH Institute on “Textual Data and Digital Texts in the Undergraduate Classroom,” directed by Lauren Coats and Emily McGinn. I titled it, “Low-Tech Approaches to Digital Research”, with a focus on two questions: how to approach digital research in the classroom without assuming technical competencies in computing, and how to teach important techniques often automated or masked by tools and software. I responded to both by providing examples of low-tech prototyping as inquiry. They included the use of Markdown for web development, graphical overlays for data visualization, paper manuals for game design, cardboard models for media history, wireframes for conjectural criticism, remediations for archival work, and zines for science and technology studies. Thanks to Lauren and Emily for inviting me to participate in this timely institute, which resulted in a compelling collection of open access materials: Digital Texts and Textual Data: A Pedagogical Anthology.

Tabletop Inquiry

5 December 2018

I wrote a reflection on my “Paper Computers” seminar. It’s intended for graduate students in the course; however, I hope it’s of use to other people, including those who are interested in media studies. It’s titled “Tabletop Inquiry” and consists of three point-form lists. The first is a series of observations made while studying and prototyping paper computers this semester; it’s meant to document and distill some of our seminar conversations. The second list outlines some questions prompted by tabletop prototyping for project design in the humanities; it’s meant to highlight how tabletop prototyping may apply to a broader set of research practices (not just to games). The third list itemizes types of prototypes for engaging history; it’s meant to provide a working vocabulary for prototyping as a form of criticism. Thanks again to Avery Alder, Nina Belojevic, Whitney “Strix” Beltrán, Anne Burdick, Emily Care Boss, Alexander Galloway, Amy Hildreth Chen, Isaac Childres, Derek Hansen, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Kari Kraus, Michael Lines, Shaun Macpherson, Renee M. Shelby, Nikki Valens, and Lara Wilson for contributing to the seminar as guest speakers. It was a joy to teach.

Types of Prototypes

4 December 2018

I developed a resource titled “Types of Prototypes” for people who are curious about how prototyping or “remaking” source materials intersects with the praxis of literary and textual criticism. It lists seven types of prototypes and explains what they help us to better understand. Then it describes how prototyping may be a form of criticism. It concludes by explaining how prototypes “address us.” Inspired by Kari Kraus’s research, I’m using this framework for a few ongoing projects.

SSHRC Grant for HASTAC 2019

29 November 2018

David Gaertner and I received a SSHRC Connection Grant to support the next HASTAC conference, scheduled for 16-18 May 2019. HASTAC will partner with UVic English and the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia, and they will be guests on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) people. The conference theme is “Decolonizing Technologies, Reprogramming Education.” Marisa Duarte, Jules Arita Koostachin, Elizabeth LaPensée, Karyn Recollet, Alana Sayers, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson will give plenaries, and Melody McIvor will be performing.

Many thanks to our organizers, sponsors, and volunteers and to Musqueam artist, Diamond Point, who designed the conference logo.

Before You Make a Thing

15 November 2018

To help undergraduate students in “Prototyping Pasts and Futures” apply science and technology studies to prototyping and project design, I created a resource titled, “Before You Make a Thing.” It consists of three point-form lists. The first is a series of theories and concepts drawn from assigned readings, the second is a rundown of practices corresponding with projects we studied, and the third itemizes prototyping techniques conducted in the course. I wrote the document for readers across the disciplines, partly because most students in this course are not humanities majors.

Sketch Model

21 June 2018

I just returned from Olin College of Engineering, where I was a summer fellow in the Mellon-funded Sketch Model program. Echoing Olin’s website, Sketch Model is “a set of experimental approaches that embody the exploratory spirit of ideas-under-construction inherent in sketch models for prototyping: imagining the creative contours and operations for an expanded practice of engineering that includes the robust expressive criticality of the arts, history, and culture.” Many thanks to Sara Hendren (PI), Ben Linder (PI), Debbie Chachra, and Jonathan Adler for hosting me. I gained an incredible amount of knowledge about prototyping across the disciplines (from industry and engineering to design and the humanities), and Sara and Ben did an absolutely brilliant job of bringing together a group of invested practitioners.

Routledge Published My Second Book

20 May 2018

I received copies of my second book today. It’s an edited collection titled, The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities. Thanks to everyone who supported it and contributed to it. Working with all of you was an absolute honor.

Starting in the Middle

11 May 2018

Yesterday I gave a talk at the University of Puget Sound titled, “Starting in the Middle,” where I outlined eight pedagogical approaches to critical media practice: 1) negotiating We/I/Them/It with Text/Context, 2) the participatory observer (who is not “detached”), 3) boundary-making in design (contrasted with appeals to abstract functions and ideal features), 4) matters of contingency and interface (as distinct from evidence or proof), 5) the entanglements of language with materials, 6) iteration as inquiry (working with machines, not delegating tasks to them), 7) multimodal composition (rather than digitization as re-presentation), and 8) accounting for shadow pasts and futures (not only certainties). Thanks to Jane Carlin and Collins Memorial Library for inviting me, and to Jamie L. Spaine for coordinating my visit. It was exciting to see what Puget Sound is doing with media and their new makerspace.

Designing Digital Studies Courses

26 April 2018

The University of Washington’s Department of English invited me to speak at the Simpson Center for the Humanities on the topic of designing digital studies courses for graduate students. I presented some possible three-course sequences for UW English, and I also created a resource based on the talk. It’s titled, “Locating Praxis in Digital Studies”. There you’ll find an account of my own background and biases with respect to digital studies, my working definition of “praxis”, an articulation of my aims when teaching media, and—likely most important—sketches of three-course sequences in stewardship, computational analysis, design and communication, social justice and transformative media, digital methods, and prototyping. If you’re creating digital studies courses at your university, then I hope you’ll find this resource to be useful. Thanks to UW English, including Carolyn Allen, Anis Bawarshi, Brian Reed, and Kathy Woodward, for welcoming me back to Seattle for this talk. It was lovely to be at the Simpson Center again.

Design and Live Methods

25 March 2018

Since early 2017, I’ve been developing approaches to literary and media studies that experiment with Daniela Rosner’s “design as inquiry,” Kari Kraus’s “family of subjunctive practices,” and what Les Back and Nirmal Puwar call “live methods.” I shared some draft material at the American Institute of Graphic Arts meeting at USC in June 2017 and, more recently, during a discussion with Florida State University’s Digital Scholars group. Here are my slides for those two talks: “Design and Digital Studies” at AIGA and “From Lab to Classroom” at FSU. Thanks to Tarez Graban for inviting me to speak with folks at FSU, to graduate students at FSU for responding to my talk, and to Kate Sweetapple and Jacquie Lorber-Kasunic for presenting with me at AIGA. I’m quite excited about where this work is going.

Interview about “What’s in a Game?”

28 February 2018

Stephanie Harrington recently interviewed me about “What’s in a Game?” for the UVic Humanities faculty newsletter: “Associate Professor of English Jentery Sayers had students in his graduate ENGL 508 Digital Literary Studies seminar create indie video games that drew on literary history. Two groups of students presented their final projects in December at Open the Arcade, an event hosted in the Digital Scholarship Commons of McPherson Library. Sayers talks to Stephanie Harrington about the process of getting students with little to no coding experience to design the games Somapo and Adventures of a Sticky Leaf-Dweller.” The entire interview is available online via the Faculty’s website. I spoke mostly about graduate work and student achievements. Thanks, Stephanie!

Minnesota Published My First Book

11 January 2018

It’s here! My first book! It’s an edited collection called, Making Things and Drawing Boundaries. Thanks to everyone at the University of Minnesota Press, especially Dani Kasprzak; the Debates in DH team, including Lauren Klein and Matt Gold; and every author who contributed a chapter. I truly enjoyed working on this project, and it’s wonderful to see it in the world for people to read.

Co-chairing a Media and Culture Initiative

12 September 2017

Thea Cacchioni (Gender Studies) and I were recently invited to co-chair the 2017-18 “Taskforce on an Institute for Culture and Media Analysis” (TICMA) in UVic’s Faculty of Humanities. The TICMA will consider the potential benefits of establishing an organizational structure to host the Faculty’s various activities in media and cultural studies, and the goal is to supplement and enhance this existing work by increasing its visibility on campus. We’ll be meeting with UVic faculty, staff, and students throughout the year, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what we ultimately recommend.

Now an Associate Professor

20 February 2017

The University of Victoria awarded me tenure with promotion this term. I’m now an associate professor of English, and I’m thrilled. Relieved, in fact. Many thanks to my family for their unwavering support along the way, to my department, and to everyone who reviewed and processed my dossier.

Prototyping Pedagogy

5 December 2016

I visited Concordia University in beautiful Montreal this weekend to give a keynote on sound and pedagogy at the Literary Audio Symposium. I titled the talk, “Prototyping Pedagogy,” and Tanya Clement, Al Filreis, Jonathan Sterne, and David Seubert also gave keynotes. Thanks to everyone at Concordia for hosting me. I look forward to seeing what Jason Camlot and the SpokenWeb team do next as part of this truly inventive project.

Two More Years of MLab Activities

7 November 2016

Teddie Brock and the MLab team just published a review of all the Lab’s activities since October 2014. This is our second two-year review, and it includes details and images for months through August 2016. There’s a slew of links you can follow to learn more about our various projects. Congrats to everyone in the Lab for all their achievements these last two years. It’s incredible.

NEH-ODH Grant for 3D Printing and Humanistic Inquiry

2 June 2016

Congratulations to James W. Malazita and Dean Nieusma at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on receiving support for “3D Printing as Humanistic Inquiry” from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of the Digital Humanities. I’m delighted to be a collaborator on this one-year project. Many thanks to Jim and Dean for thinking of me.

Critical Design, Deviant Critique

15 May 2016

Arizona State University hosted a wonderful HASTAC 2016 conference. Kim Knight, Padmini Ray Murray, Jacqueline Wernimont, and I discussed the relationship between design and critique–or “critical design and deviant critique”–in a humanities context. I engaged six particular angles on design during my portion of the discussion: design 1) as an attribution practice, 2) as inquiry, 3) for experience, 4) for responsibility, 5) in-use, and 6) for diffraction. With material from the talk, I produced a resource titled, “Critical Design”, which briefly describes each of these angles and their motivations. Many thanks to Kim, Padmini, and Jacque for presenting with me. It was a lively panel with an engaging Q&A session.

Early Magnetic Recording

22 April 2016

Thanks to Rich Rath and David Golberg for inviting me to give a couple of talks at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa this month as part of the Dai Ho Chun Distinguished Lecturer series. It was an incredible honor. One of my talks was on early magnetic recording, and while I was in Honolulu I appeared on KHPR 88.1 FM Hawaiʻi public radio with Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa (Bytemarks Cafe), Ken DeHoff and Burl Burlingame (Pacific Aviation Museum), and Richard Wainscoat, Eugene Magnier, and Larry Denneau (Institute for Astronomy) to talk about restoring and remaking old tech. You can listen to a recording of our conversation (about 60 minutes) over at Bytemark Cafe’s website.

Remaking Old Media

6 April 2016

I visited the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation (CDSC) at Washington State University this week. Many thanks to Kim Christen, Michael Wynne, and Trevor Bond for hosting me. While I was there I gave a talk titled, “Remaking Old Media across the Disciplines”. Given the importance of historical particulars to this research, not to mention my proclivity for tangents, I decided to read a paper with slides for this one. The video includes my slides as well as the Q&A session.

I enjoyed returning to WSU, which I first visited in 2009 to attend a THATCamp. Thanks again, Kim, Michael, and Trevor. The CDSC is doing brilliant work at the intersection of technologies, ethics, and social empowerment.

Prototyping as Composition

7 March 2016

After my talk at Cornell, I traveled to Syracuse University to not only speak about the overlaps of prototyping with writing studies but also conduct a Scalar workshop for students. I had a chance as well to visit the awe-inspiring Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive. Many thanks to Patrick Berry, Collin Brooke, Patrick Williams, and Jason Markins for hosting me, and to Jenny Doctor for giving me a tour of the Belfer Lab and Archive. Here’s my abstract for the “Prototyping as Composition” talk:

“Across the humanities, art, design, engineering, as well as numerous memory institutions, researchers are giving digital fabrication techniques such as 3-D printing significant attention. In response, this talk examines the affordances of fabrication for scholarly communication, with particular attention to rapid prototyping, or the iterative production of abstract models in tactile form, as a compositional strategy. Against the grain of the techno-evangelism and hype often witnessed in maker cultures, I outline the relationships between writing academic essays and producing tactile objects with computer numerical control (CNC) machines such as laser cutters, millers, spindles, and printers. Instead of suggesting that writing is somehow secondary to the primary experience of making things, I underscore how prototyping is intricately entangled with archival research and the writing that emerges through that research.”

Prototyping Absence

6 March 2016

Last week I had the honor of giving a talk on “Prototyping Absence” at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. Many thanks to Tim Murray for inviting and hosting me. It was beyond humbling to be in the A.D. White House to discuss my research with scholars there. Here’s my abstract for the talk:

“When conducting archival research, historians of media and technology frequently encounter devices that no longer work or existed only as illustrations, fictions, or one-offs. Rather than studying such uncertainty at a remove, this talk outlines ways to prototype absences in the historical record. It draws from examples of remaking old media to demonstrate how prototyping the past affords unique approaches to examining the contingent relations between matter and meaning, without fetishizing exact reproductions of historical artifacts.”

2015 ACH Elections

20 November 2015

The Association for Computers and the Humanities recently nominated me to serve on its executive council for three years. ACH members have until Thursday, December 10th to vote. As a council member, I would stress the importance of pedagogy, interdisciplinary collaboration, social justice initiatives, and mentoring programs for early career practitioners. I also think laboratory- and library-based learning are fundamental to the histories and trajectories of digital humanities, and I would encourage more ACH activities involving the arts and experimental media.

I’m among inimitable company on the ballot: Laura Mandell, Lauren Klein, Jean Bauer, Kalani Craig, Amanda Visconti, Micki Kaufman, Jim McGrath, Scott Weingart, and Francesco Levato. Voting for any of these nominees is a win for the ACH.

Between English and Visual Arts

29 June 2015

The British Columbia Library Association held its 2015 conference in May, and I had the privilege of giving a talk on the design, development, and maintenance of UVic’s Digital Fabrication Lab. The title was “Between English and Visual Arts”, and I wrote a related MLab piece on the infrastructural disposition of lab work across the humanities and fine arts. Thanks to Anne Olsen and Erin Fields for the invitation, and to Springer for sponsoring the session.

Prototyping as Inquiry

8 June 2015

Union College in Schenectady hosted the eighth symposium on Engineering and Liberal Education on June 5th and 6th. I had the honor of giving a plenary at the event on the topic of prototyping as inquiry, and Hod Lipson gave the keynote. Many thanks to Christine Henseler for inviting me to Union’s scenic campus. I enjoyed speaking with faculty, staff, and students both there and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute about prototyping’s potential in liberal education. I also spent a few days in the Adirondacks, on beautiful Lake Saranac.

The Pedagogy of Prototyping

25 April 2015

Thanks to Michael Widner and Amir Eshel for inviting me to speak at Stanford to the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages’ Digital Humanities Focal Group. The title of my talk was “Prototyping and Pedagogy in the Humanities”. It featured an array of undergraduate and graduate research here at UVic, with some remarks about digital studies courses I’ve designed and taught since 2009. This was my first visit to Stanford, and while there I did some archival work in the Ampex collection.

Executable Culture

12 April 2015

I was fortunate to give the keynote at Waterloo’s Experimental Digital Media (XDM) annual exhibition and symposium this year, the theme for which was “Feedback, Fedback, Feedforward”. My talk was about “Executable Culture and Arguments with Objects”. After it, I spoke with Adam Cilevitz, Paisley Cozzarin, Shawn DeSouza-Coelho, Rob Parker, Sophia Pelka, Matthew Schwager, and Stephen Trothen about their fantastic XDM research. Thanks a bunch to Beth Coleman, Marcel O’Gorman, and everyone at the Critical Media Lab for inviting and hosting me. The CML is doing some of the sharpest work I’ve seen in Canadian media studies.

Co-directing the Digital Fabrication Lab

1 April 2015

The Departments of English and Visual Arts at UVic are pleased to announce the new Digital Fabrication Lab. Located in the Visual Arts building, the DFL represents an historic, first-of-its-kind partnership between the Humanities and Fine Arts. It features an array of machinery, including a laser cutter, CNC miller, CNC router, structured-light 3D scanner, and 3D printer. I will be co-directing the DFL with Paul Walde, and the MLab will integrate it with our ongoing fabrication research.

Goodbye, “Hello World”

23 March 2015

The MLab facilitated its final “Hello World” workshop today. The series has been a blast since day one. We started it back in 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed each event, having hosted Ed Chang, Tanya Clement, Matt Huculak, merritt k, Bethany Nowviskie, and, most recently, Garnet Hertz, on topics ranging from distant listening, Neatline, and Juxta to Twine, game studies, and critical making. Many thanks to everyone who participated. This series helped to build an important, positive force culture among students, staff, and faculty.

Human-Machine Vision

15 March 2015

Last week, I was a guest instructor at the University of Minnesota during their annual “Architecture as Catalyst” series. This year’s Catalyst theme was “Façade,” and I was joined by several other guest instructors: Leah Beuchley, Doris Kim Sung, Hideyuki Nakayama, Omar Gandhi, and Ian Harris. Each of us also gave a talk while we were there. The College of Design recorded them all and made a playlist. The title of my talk was “Human-Machine Vision: A Post-Cinematic Approach.” It surveyed the various roles computer vision plays in arts and humanities research, including some work done in the MLab. Many thanks to Andrea Johnson for not only inviting me to Minnesota but also teaching a Catalyst course with me.

Transduction Literacies

10 January 2015

My talk at this year’s MLA convention in Vancouver was part of the “Making Writing in Third Spaces” panel. I drew upon work by Nina Belojevic, Matthew Fuller, Virginia Kuhn, David Rieder, Cynthia Selfe, Jody Shipka, Annette Vee, and Victor Vitanza to unpack the notion of “transduction literacies” premised on tacit knowledge, the experiences of trial and error, an awareness of procedure (how this becomes that), and attention to mediation over media. Thanks to Bonnie Lenore Kyburz for organizing the session, and to Laurie Gries, Brian Harmon, and Byron Hawk for presenting with me. It was a fascinating discussion.

Two Years of MLab Activities

9 October 2014

Shaun Macpherson and the MLab team just published our first review of the Lab’s activities. It dates back to September 2012, with images and links for every month through September 2014. Thanks for giving it a read! I’m so impressed by everything the MLab’s researchers achieved during this brief period.

Data, Social Justice, and the Humanities

6 October 2014

On Friday, I presented during the “Data, Social Justice, and the Humanities” event at the University of Michigan. This one-day conference explored the implications of gathering and analyzing digital data for humanities scholarship in light of social justice imperatives. Activism, archiving, and representation served as interpretive lenses to focus discussion. My talk addressed the Internet of Things (IoT) through the perspectives of digital labor and computational culture. Here are my slides.

Many thanks to Moya Bailey, Jessie Daniels, Jacqueline Wernimont, Michelle Habell-Pallán, Sonnet Retman, Alexandra Minna Stern, Maria Cotera, Michelle Caswell, and Simone Browne for their talks, and to Sidonie Smith, Doretha Coval, Patrick Tonks, Lisa Nakamura, David A. Wallace, Paul Conway, the Institute for the Humanities, and the School of Information at the University of Michigan for their collective role in making the conference happen. “Data, Social Justice, and the Humanities” (#DSJandH on Twitter) was a fantastic event, among the best conferences I’ve attended. Here’s to many more like it in the near future.

SSHRC Grant for Linked Modernisms

2 September 2014

Congrats again to my colleague, Stephen Ross, who received a SSHRC Insight Grant for “Linked Modernisms.” The grant will support the development of a web-based visualization and analysis portal for The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. I’ll be collaborating with Stephen and other UVic researchers on this one, particularly around the challenge of building a custom ontology for All. The. Modernisms. Seems easy enough, Casaubon?

BCKDF Grant for a Humanities Makerspace

22 May 2014

I’m thrilled to say the Maker Lab received support from the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) for “The Makerspace for Desktop Fabrication and Physical Computing in the Humanities.” The BCKDF helps post-secondary institutions, teaching hospitals, and affiliated non-profit research agencies to invest in research infrastructure.

With this grant, the MLab aims to: 1) provide equipment that’s currently unavailable to UVic humanities researchers, 2) augment and diversify the Lab’s existing infrastructure, 3) attract researchers in desktop fabrication and physical computing, 4) maintain a humanities makerspace at UVic, 5) foster experimental media and critical digital literacy, 6) break new ground in humanities lab practices, 7) grow the fabrication and physical computing industries through humanities research, and 8) allow the Lab to better engage and inform the public while increasing its opportunities to publish and share its findings.

UA/AU Features the MLab

10 April 2014

The MLab appears in University Affairs / Affaires universitaires today, in a piece by Cassandra Hendry titled, “Exploring the Humanities through Unique Makerspaces”. Hendry writes, “Circuit boards, screwdrivers and 3D printers aren’t typically found in a university’s humanities faculty, but the University of Victoria’s Maker Lab in the Humanities is no ordinary place. Opened in 2012, the Maker Lab follows the recent trend of ‘makerspaces’ – collaborative, community-based workshops stocked with tools and materials for people to experiment with and create new things. But, what sets the UVic lab apart is blending this ‘makerspace ethos’ with the humanities.”

All of us at the MLab would like to thank Hendry for taking the time to learn about our research, and for addressing lab spaces and research infrastructures as cultural issues.

CFI/FCI Grant for a Humanities Makerspace

11 March 2014

I’m very happy to announce that the Maker Lab received support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) / Fondation canadienne pour l’innovation (FCI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund for “The Makerspace for Desktop Fabrication and Physical Computing in the Humanities.” This grant will provide the MLab with the infrastructure to scan, model, prototype, fabricate, customize, network, and share three-dimensional objects across digital and analog environments.

With that infrastructure, the MLab aims to: 1) foster a new research environment in humanities physical computing and desktop fabrication; 2) articulate and share best practices for digitizing, modelling, manufacturing, and networking 3D objects in humanities contexts; 3) develop easy-to-adopt workflows for digitally delivering cultural materials in 3D; 4) train highly qualified personnel for collaborative fabrication and physical computing research in non-STEM fields; 5) extend the humanities through fabrication and physical computing research; 6) blend aesthetic and cultural innovations with technical innovations; and 7) actively contribute to Canada’s digital economy by reducing waste and manufacturing costs, increasing awareness of new technologies, and deepening our popular understanding of fair and ethical uses of 3D modelling, fabrication, and interactive physical systems.

Now a Member of CSPT

17 February 2014

This term, I was nominated to join UVic’s Cultural, Social, and Political Thought faculty, who have since approved my appointment. Thanks to CSPT director, Peyman Vahabzadeh (Sociology), for facilitating this process. I look forward to teaching CSPT courses and supporting the program’s incredible students.

SSHRC Grant for Physical Computing, Fabrication, and Cultural History

17 September 2013

Wonderful news! Bill Turkel (Western University) and I were awarded a SSHRC Insight Grant to fund “Humanities Physical Computing and Fabrication for Cultural History” for four years (2013-17). The grant will support a team of practitioners conducting physical computing and desktop fabrication research across the University of Victoria and Western University campuses. It will also allow us to acquire necessary supplies, present and publish our research, partner with like-minded scholars, and facilitate public events dedicated to collaborative experimentation with technologies and historical materials.

How to Lie with Computer Vision

16 September 2013

I had the pleasure of giving a keynote at the University of Kansas’s “Return to the Material” symposium this weekend. The title of my talk was “Fabrications, or How to Lie with Computer Vision”. It was recorded. Whitney Trettien and Colin Allen gave keynotes as well, and all three of us offered workshops. Thanks to the inimitable Arienne Dwyer and Brian Rosenblum for inviting me. “Return to the Material” was a brilliant, timely, and engaging event. I hope we see more like it.

Working with Historical Audio

3 August 2013

This weekend, I was a plenary speaker at the “Editing Modernism On and Off the Page” institute on UBC’s beautiful Okanagan campus. My talk was about “Editing, Annotating, and Discovering Historical Audio.” I drew heavily from material in my dissertation, and after the talk I was fortunate to hear George Bowering, Frank Davey, Daphne Marlatt, Fred Wah, and Sharon Thesen each read their own work. Many thanks to Karis Shearer for inviting me to UBCO.

From 2D to 3D

22 July 2013

The annual Digital Humanities conference was at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this summer. Jeremy Boggs, Devon Elliot, and I conducted a workshop on desktop fabrication and then gave a talk on the same topic, both around the theme of moving from 2D to 3D in humanities research. We published our slides, and our notes contain what we hope will be a useful bibliography for anyone with interests in fabrication, physical computing, and the humanities. Thank you, Jeremy and Devon, for collaborating with me on this work.

The MLab’s Website Is Live

23 May 2013

The website for the Maker Lab in the Humanities is live. It took me a few months to design, build, and populate, but I hope the results are worth the time and effort. The site already contains over 40 posts by our team of eleven people, and thanks to artist, Grace Yang, the MLab even has a logo.

We will do our best to share our research, including our Crocodile Café exhibit as well as our collaborations with the MVP, as it all unfolds. We are also considering what it means for a humanities lab to function as a makerspace. What is a humanities makerspace, and under what cultural assumptions might it operate?

Directing the Maker Lab in the Humanities

25 November 2012

The Maker Lab in the Humanities opened its doors this term with support from UVic English and the Modernist Versions Project. This year’s research team consists of Stephen Ross, Adèle Barclay, Alex Christie, Arthur Hain, Adam Hammond, Amanda Hansen, Mikka Jacobsen, Shaun Macpherson, Jana Millar Usiskin, Katie Tanigawa, and me, and I’m proud to be the MLab’s founding director and principal investigator. We are designing our infrastructure around the makerspace / hackerspace model, and our website is coming soon.

Internal Grant for Allied Audio Archives

6 September 2012

I received an internal research grant from UVic to start the “Allied Audio Archives” project. The aim of the project is to collocate audio from institutions and communities across the Pacific Northwest (U.S. and Canada) and produce online exhibits that showcase and historicize regional audio cultures. I’m using the internal funding to support a graduate research assistant (Shaun Macpherson) in designing and developing our first exhibit, which will contextualize the University of Washington’s Crocodile Café Collection with interviews, ephemera, local history, and cultural criticism.

Many thanks to John Vallier at UW for helping me to facilitate this project, which began in 2010-11 when I was teaching Media and Communication Studies at UW Bothell.

Writing with Sound

26 July 2012

I’ve been thinking through the theme of “Writing with Sound” for about a year now, and this month I gave a talk on the topic at the University of Hamburg during the 2012 Digital Humanities conference. It was recorded, and one question I considered is how critics might compose responsive content for audiences who are reading, watching, and listening to their material.

The talk drew heavily from my work on the Scalar platform as well as a piece I published over at The New Everyday as part of Kari Kraus’s wonderful collection, “Rough Cuts: Media and Design in Process”, which features work by Katharine Beutner, Elizabeth Bonsignore, Nicholas Chen, Christy Dena, Rachel Donahue, Ken Eklund, Jason Farman, Ann Fraistat, Oliver Gaycken, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Henry Lowood, Nick Montfort, Rick Prelinger, Ernesto Priego, Rita Raley, Gabriela Redwine, Marc Ruppel, Mark Sample, Rita Shewbridge, Amanda Visconti, Greg Walsh, and Joshua Weiner. Many thanks to Kari for her unparalleled editorial work.

SSHRC Grant for the Modernist Versions Project

20 June 2012

Congratulations to my colleague, Stephen Ross, who is the principal investigator of the Modernist Versions Project, which received a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant for three years. I’m excited to contribute to the MVP. It aims to advance the potential for comparative interpretations of modernist texts that exist in multiple forms by digitizing, collating, versioning, and visualizing them individually and in combination. Its primary mission is to enable new critical insights that are difficult without digital or computational approaches. More details over at UVic News.

UM Press and HASTAC Publication Prize

16 June 2012

HASTAC and the University of Michigan Press selected Sheila Brennan (George Mason University) and me as the recipients of their Digital Culture publication prize, which includes an advance contact and subventions. The prize will help me to revise my dissertation into an open access monograph.

Thank you, Julie Thompson Klein, Cathy Davidson, David Theo Goldberg, and everyone at UM Press and HASTAC for recognizing my work in this way. And congratulations to you as well, Sheila! Exciting times ahead.

Dropping the Digital

10 April 2012

The University of Pittsburgh recently celebrated the launch of Debates in the Digital Humanities, published by the University of Minnesota Press. Thanks to Matt Gold (editor of Debates) and Jamie “Skye” Bianco (at Pitt) for inviting me to the book launch, where I gave a talk about “Dropping the Digital” on a panel with Jamie, Matt, Doug Armato, Elizabeth Losh, and Stephen Ramsay. It was truly an honor to visit Pitt’s 42-story Cathedral of Learning and to chat with faculty, staff, and students there.

Composing a Multimodal Dissertation

25 October 2011

The Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln invited me to be one of three early career scholars to present at this year’s Nebraska Digital Workshop. While I was there, I spoke about the process and technical particulars of composing a multimodal dissertation. I was joined by fellow invitees, Kirsten C. Uszkalo and Colin F. Wilder, as well as international scholars, Susan Brown and William G. Thomas, III, who also gave talks. Many thanks to Kay Walters and everyone at the Center for hosting me during my first visit to UNL’s campus. The Digital Workshop is such an exciting space for critical discussion and experimentation. Thanks as well to Trevor Muñoz at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities for writing about the Workshop.

New Job at UVic

1 July 2011

Last month, I completed my English PhD at UW Seattle and an interdisciplinary teaching fellowship at UW Bothell. I am now an assistant professor of digital literary studies in the Department of English at the University of Victoria, where I will also start a lab. I’m thrilled to say the least.

UW Graduate Medal in the Humanities

1 July 2011

I am honored to receive the University of Washington’s 2011 College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Medal in the Humanities. According to the College’s newsletter, Perspectives, “[e]ach year, the College of Arts and Sciences presents the Dean’s Medal to four exceptional graduating seniors, representing the College’s four divisions — arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Now the College is celebrating its graduate students as well, with the introduction of an annual Graduate Medal, also with one recipient per division. ‘These annual medals are an opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of our very best students,’ says Ana Mari Cauce, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. ‘Our graduate students deserve to share in that spotlight. With so many remarkable students, the challenge is to limit our selection to one undergraduate and one graduate student from each of our divisions.’”

Many thanks to the College and Dean Cauce for their work, their support, and this kind gesture. Congratulations as well to the other inaugural graduate medalists: Heather Raikes (Arts), Juned Shaikh (Social Sciences), and Aurelia Honerkamp-Smith (Natural Sciences). Such stellar company!

Sketch by Beckett. Used with permission. Content on this page, some of which was originally written in WordPress or GitHub, dates back to 1 July 2011. I last updated this page on 13 May 2024.