I grew up in Windsor, Ontario, in the shadows of the Detroit skyline. This might explain my obsession with border culture and interdisciplinary work. I completed a BA in French and English at the University of Windsor (1993) before moving on to graduate studies in the English Department at the University of Ottawa, where I focused on critical theory and Romantic poetry, particularly the work of William Blake. I returned to the University of Windsor to complete a second MA in Creative Writing, and to set up the institution’s first hypertext lab. My final project at UWindsor (1995) was an extensive hypertext collaboration with Stephen Gibb, a Windsor artist. For the doctorate, I chose the University of Florida, where I worked with the inventive and controversial Derridean scholar Gregory Ulmer. With the PhD in hand (1998), I worked for a year as Instructional Technology Specialist at Tulane University in New Orleans, and then moved back to Windsor/Detroit after accepting a position as the first director of Electronic Critique (2000), an interdisciplinary degree program at the University of Detroit. I came to the University of Waterloo in 2006 with the hope of breaking new ground in an area that I am calling applied media theory. Here, critical theory and media studies are inextricably linked with digital art practices.
Lai-Tze Fan [“ligh” (light without the t) + chee] is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Waterloo, and a Faculty Researcher of the Critical Media Lab and Games Institute. She researches digital storytelling, media theory and infrastructure, research-creation and art, critical making, and gendered tech, AI, and labour.
Lai-Tze is an Editor and the Director of Communications of electronic book review and a Co-Editor of the digital review. She is Co-Editor of the 2020 collection Post-Digital: Dialogues and Debates from electronic book review (from Bloomsbury), and is the Editor of forthcoming journal issues on “Canadian Digital Poetics” and “Critical Making, Critical Design.” She is currently working on three book projects: one on the gendered design of technology from typewriters to voice assistants, one on intermediality and the digital arts, and one on electronic literature and the environment. For more information, visit laitzefan.com.
Matt Borland is a design lecturer in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. His main research interests are in the field of music and acoustics; with a focus on sound synthesis, auditory perception, signal analysis, and new musical instrument design. He runs the University of Waterloo Tape Music Club, an informal group that builds community while exploring the interface between music and technology. Matt is a proponent of a pluriversal design perspective and views the collaboration of artists and musicians across cultures, geographies, and histories as an example that we can all learn from as designers and community builders, regardless of the domains we design in.
The Critical Media Lab has been the site for music workshops and other interactions between the worlds of engineering and the arts in collaboration with the University of Waterloo Tape Music Club. These sessions have helped reveal the non-duality of those things, or perhaps more positively stated: the oneness of the community, knowledge, expression, and love that happen in a space like the Critical Media Lab.
I’m an Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. I’m interested in and publish in the areas of material rhetorics, environmental rhetorics, writing theory and pedagogy, methods and methodology, and rhetorics of location and place.
I completed my BA in Political Science at the University of Arizona, my MA in English (Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse) at DePaul University, and my PhD in English (Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics) at Arizona State University. From 2006 to 2018, I taught at the University of Winnipeg, where I also directed the writing centre. I joined the University of Waterloo in August 2018. My most recent book project, Planting the Anthropocene, is a rhetorical look into the world of industrial tree planting, engaging themes of nature, culture, and environmental change. My current research examines infrastructural entanglements of humans and nonhumans as material rhetorical arguments, focusing on the Species at Risk Act and mandated recovery strategies for listed species. The Critical Media Lab hosts my current research project, Hirondelusia: A Creative Turn toward Species at Risk, an arts-based research creation project that promotes reflection on species at risk and human entanglement with nonhuman creatures.
Some years ago, in the midst of an existential crisis, I spent many hours trying to understand my life by reconstructing its past. I was surprised by how much of this effort to make my own personal mirror of history consisted of the careful drawing of maps — maps of transcontinental migrations, old neighbourhoods, social networks, and other more abstract versions of cause and effect. Since that time, I have become obsessed with the many ways that space and place play a role in our lives from the mundane (how do we find our way to the grocery store?) to the sublime (what is it about the space inside a large cathedral that takes our breath away?). In my scientific life, I study such issues by presenting people with problems of space both in the real world and in simulated worlds generated using the tools of virtual reality. You can read more about my work at the website of the University of Waterloo’s Research Lab for Immersive Virtual Environments (RELIVE).
I always wanted to be a computer scientist until I was the only girl in all my high school courses. So I pursued my second love, English, working my way around to computers again eventually, working in humanities labs at York and Alberta, and on funded electronic text publications at Guelph and at Alberta. My doctoral work focused on popular reception and remediation of computer technologies, and my postdoctoral fellowship with the Orlando Project saw me helping to develop a delivery interface for a massive electronic textbase of biographical and literary/critical scholarship on women writers. Now I teach literature, humanities computing, history and theory of media, and multimedia practice.
My years at the University of Waterloo have been spent helping to build the Rhetoric and Professional Writing/Communication Design programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels while establishing a profile in the practice of professional communication and documentation. To those ends, I have published numerous how-to computer books and many feature articles, columns, and reviews in computer magazines such as PC Magazine, Smart Computing, PC Computing, PC Gamer, etc. In addition, I have consulted with a variety of technology companies on topics such as proposal writing, copyright and patent issues, and public relations. Also in the professional writing line, I have recently begun to design and work on the production of board games of the complex simulation kind, and in the past I was a music columnist and a computer columnist for the local newspaper. All of this activity has found its way into my classes and my research, as has my long-time fascination with the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien.
As an artist-researcher, my work is design-based, collaborative, aims to be transdisciplinary, and usually has something to do with the confluence of performance, digital media, history, language, education, and social justice. My early digital projects developed electronic texts, virtual performance environments, and games with applications in theatre pedagogy and archival theatre research. More recently, I have focused on designing technology-enabled experiences that foster social good, including reconciliation in post-conflict zones, anti-racist K-12 education, and prison reform. My current preoccupation is working out methodologies for design research that deepen interdisciplinary understanding and take a relational approach. Prototyping Across the Disciplines: Designing Better Futures (an essay collection I co-edited with Stan Ruecker and Milena Radzikowska, forthcoming from Intellect Press) is a recent step in that direction. I am a founder and co-director of the qCollaborative, the critical feminist design research lab housed at Waterloo’s Games Institute, and creative director and virtual reality development cluster lead for the Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation project. Most of my courses are offered through the Theatre and Performance program in the Department of Communication Arts. Inquiries from grad students are welcome.
Daniel Vogel is an Associate Professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. He has published more than 75 papers in the area of Human Computer Interaction focusing on fundamental characteristics of human input and novel forms of interaction for current and future computing form factors like touch, tangibles, mid-air gestures, and whole-body input, for everything from on-body wearable devices and mobile phones, to large displays and virtual reality. In addition to earning PhD and MSc degrees from the University of Toronto, Dan holds a BFA from the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and he leverages his combined art and science background in his research. For example, he was awarded a major grant to build a $1.8 million lab to explore the intersection of HCI and Fine Art in spatial augmented reality. Dan’s 2004 paper on interactive ambient displays is one of the ten most cited papers in the history of the ACM UIST conference, and he has received multiple honours including: 9 paper awards at ACM CHI; the Bill Buxton Dissertation Award (2010); a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship (2011 – 2013), an Ontario Early Researcher Award (2017); the Faculty of Mathematics Golden Jubilee Research Excellence Award (2018); a CS-Can/Info-Can Outstanding Young Computer Science Researcher Award (2019); and was named a Cheriton Faculty Fellow (2019 – 2022).
I study the secret life of software and the squishy humans that make it, mostly at the nexus of digital games and Surveillance Studies. I’ve been conducting ethnographic fieldwork with game developers since 2012. This means I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out in incubator spaces and collaborating with gamesmakers. My writing centres on the shifting production models of the global game industry, tracing how both social and technological practices shape developers’ creative work and influence who exactly can have a sustainable career doing what they love. More generally, I study digital media surveillance, social influences on software development processes, ethics and values in design, platformization and precarity, and governance in online domains. I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology & Legal Studies and at the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business. You can find more of my work at IndieInterfaces.com and jenniferwhitson.com.
2020 — Jason Lajoie
2019 — Andy Myles / Omar Gutierez
2018 — Matt Frazer
Beth Coleman (Former Co-Director)
I am the author of Hello Avatar (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Press, 2011) and a specialist in digital media, race theory, game culture, and literary studies. I have a long established practice as a digital researcher and media arts creator. I joined the uWaterloo English department from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Comparative Media Studies, and contribute to areas in critical media, media arts, and game studies, while strengthening departmental expertise in the study of digital media as a cultural artifact from within the literary enterprise. I am author of numerous articles on digital media, the creator of a number of digital projects, and the Director of the City as Platform/X-Reality Lab (XRL), Amsterdam. At uWaterloo, I work with the Critical Media Lab and participate in the Rhetoric and Professional Writing major as well as the Master of Arts in Experimental Digital Media (XDM). Within the uWaterloo Games Institute, I have initiated a new research module, City as Platform/X-Reality Lab (XRL). I am the Undergraduate Experience Coordinator, and welcome inquiries from current or prospective students about the English program.