Here are descriptions and links for some of my recent work. I will eventually create pages for each of these projects. I hope these snippets are useful to you in the meantime.

“Professor Bot: An Exercise in Algorithmic Accountability” (forthcoming): an assignment and summary I wrote for Annette Vee, Tim Laquintano, and Carly Schnitzler’s Teaching with Text Generation Technologies

This low-tech, tool-agnostic, small-stakes assignment prompts students to attend to issues of power and governance at play in artificial intelligence (AI), with an emphasis on what students do not know and may thus want to learn about algorithmic decision-making. Students first consider a hypothetical scenario where AI is assessing university entrance essays. They then consult publications on algorithmic accountability to articulate questions they would want to ask key decision-makers about the AI decision-making process. They conclude the exercise by reflecting on what they learned about algorithmic accountability, transparency, and social responsibility.

Media Studies (2023): a new UVic program I’m directing

Media Studies is an interdisciplinary certificate program at the University of Victoria (UVic). It offers you a credential in media literacy to expand your career options and enrich your studies in any discipline. Our courses focus on experiential learning and the people skills of media, communication and culture. The program is open to all UVic students, and there are no prerequisites to enter it.

Web Design (2023): a course for 23 students I’m teaching in UVic’s Professional Communication program

In this course, I will teach you how to produce accessible websites in HTML and CSS without the need for databases or content management systems. You’ll learn a basic vocabulary for web design alongside many techniques involved in publishing your own content. You’ll work on a series of exercises and projects that will develop your knowledge as a writer and web designer, and ultimately you’ll create two simple websites. Roughly 60% of the course material will be grounded in style (CSS), encoding (HTML), and publishing, with the other 40% dedicated to composing compelling content you want to see in the world. Throughout the course, we’ll combine an awareness of values in design with attention to the technical particulars of web development.

All class sessions will be held in a Mac computer lab. I will assume you’ve never taken a course on web design or publishing (including HTML and CSS) and that you’ve never made your own website.

Games and Interactive Fiction (Studies in Genre) (2023): a special topics course for 45 students I taught before “Games and Interactive Fiction” was added to UVic’s calendar of courses in 2023-24

Video games prompt us to play, but how do we tell stories with them? And how do genres shape that storytelling? We’ll survey the articulation of video game genres (such as point-and-click, puzzle, role-playing, sim, and platformer) with literary genres (like fantasy, science fiction, mystery, adventure, and horror) to consider how genre affects our understanding, if not our experiences, of narrative and play. We’ll attend to short, story-rich games that experiment with genre, and I’ll ask you to select a game to study throughout the term.

“Autoethnographies of Mediation” (2022): an essay I wrote with Julie Funk for James O’Sullivan’s Bloomsbury Handbook to the Digital Humanities

Humanities research with computing is frequently associated with three approaches to technologies: building infrastructure, designing tools, and developing techniques. The infrastructural approach is common among some libraries and labs, for example, where “infrastructure” implies not only equipment, platforms, and collections but also where and how they are housed and supported (Canada Foundation for Innovation 2008, 7). Tools, meanwhile, are usually designed and crafted with infrastructure. They turn “this” into “that”: from input to output, data to visualization, source code to browser content (Fuller 2005, 85). Techniques are then partly automated by tools. Aspects of a given process performed manually may become a procedure run by machines (Hayles 2010; Chun 2014). Although these three approaches are important to humanities computing, today they face numerous challenges, which are likely all too familiar to readers of this handbook.

As we confront these challenges—one of us (Julie) a PhD student in science and technology studies, and the other (Jentery) an associate professor of English—we are experimenting with another approach to computing in the humanities, namely autoethnography, which is by no means new to the academy. Carolyn Ellis and Arthur P. Bochner provide a capacious but compelling definition of autoethnography, and we adopt it for the purposes of this chapter: “an autobiographical genre of writing and research that displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural” (2000, 739). Our only edit is minor: “multiple layers of mediation and consciousness.” For us, adding mediation to the mix of autoethnography is one way to engage computing (in particular) and technologies (in general) as relations. This means tools and infrastructures are more like negotiations than objects or products, and techniques are processes at once embodied (personal) and shared by groups and communities (cultural).

“Minimal Computing from the Labor Perspective” (2022): an essay I wrote with Tiffany Chan for Roopika Risam and Alex Gil’s special issue of DHQ

The process of making digital objects available and discoverable demands a great deal of labor, from digitization, to creating metadata, to preservation, to importing it into a digital asset management system, and finally to presenting it. We begin this essay with a case study of one such system, called “Vault,” in the University of Victoria Libraries, and the work required to migrate from a Software as a Service (SAAS) model (called ContentDM) to a free and open-source software (FOSS) model (a customized instance of Samvera).

Vault illustrates what we call “minimal computing from the labor perspective,” which seeks to reduce the opacity of software through “low-tech” practices such as pseudocode, thereby reducing the alienation of practitioners from their projects. Drawing from feminist ecological work on capitalism, affective labor, and care, we advocate for the “degrowth” of digital projects by resisting tendencies to reinvest surplus labor and value into increased productivity. Instead, degrowth as minimal computing prompts practitioners to articulate a project’s needs and desires; what work is required and from whom; and how or whether to sustain this labor for the future.

Contemporary Media and Fiction (2020-22): a course for 60 students I taught on three occasions prior to the launch of UVic’s Media Studies program in 2023-24

How do we not only read stories but also see, hear, watch, and play them? This course introduces you to media studies and how audio, images, text, and interfaces are designed for contemporary fiction. We’ll study comics, animations, short fiction, dramatic podcasts, and games, and you’ll learn how to write about media and fiction for a critical audience by integrating a range of media into your work. Since this course is an introduction, I’ll assume you’ve never taken a class in media studies.

Contemporary American Fiction (2021): a course I teach here and there

This course surveys American fiction since the 1980s, attending to key issues and styles at play during the period, with an emphasis on prominent authors and novels. It is not a special topics course, but we will discuss the aesthetics and politics of home, family, and kinship in novels that engage critically with norms in America. You’ll learn what’s unique about American fiction since 1980, how to talk about the last 40 forty years as a literary period, and how to write about contemporary fiction for popular and academic audiences.

  • The House on Mango Street (1984), by Sandra Cisneros
  • Beloved (1987), by Toni Morrison
  • Geek Love (1989), by Katherine Dunn
  • Salvage the Bones (2011), by Jesmyn Ward
  • Homegoing (2016), by Yaa Gyasi

Prototyping Pasts and Futures (2018): a course for 60 students I taught twice in UVic’s Technology and Society Program

An offering in the Technology and Society minor at UVic, this course is about the entanglement of Western technologies with society and culture. We’ll examine some histories of these entanglements, discuss their effects today, and also speculate about their trajectories. One important question will persist throughout the term: How can and should we intervene in technologies as practices? Rather than treating technologies as tools we use or objects we examine from the outside, we’ll prototype with and through them as modes of inquiry. You’ll turn patents into 3-D forms, compose and implement use scenarios, “datify” old tech, and imagine a device you want to see in the world. You’ll document your research and development process along the way, reflect on what you learned, present your prototypes and findings, and also build a vocabulary of keywords for technology and society. I will not assume that you’re familiar with fields such as science and technology studies, media studies, critical design, or experimental art, and the prototyping exercises will rely on low-tech approaches. Technical competency required: know how to send an email.

Featured image (PNG), edited in Photoshop, features cables in my drawer. I created this page on 7 August 2023.