Assistant Professor

Photo of Lai-Tze Fan.PhD, York University
MA, Wilfrid Laurier​ University
BA, York University

Extension 45367
Office: HH 367



With roots in English Literature, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, and Design, my work is interdisciplinary by nature. Prior to coming to Waterloo, I was an Assistant Professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University in Montréal.

My research looks at storytelling through media: what is specific about communicating in unique forms from oral, manuscript, print, and book cultures to photography, cinema, games, and digital media? I also explore storytelling about media: branching away from traditional media histories, my work identifies alternative histories of subjects, objects, and infrastructures that have been made invisible. What are media made out of? How do technological devices go from earth’s resources to consumers’s hands? Who is doing the unseen labour? How can designing, building, or taking apart devices provide insight into these questions? How may we communicate these practices and outcomes to scholars and the public?

My general research and teaching interests include media archaeology, interactive and digital storytelling, research-creation and critical making projects, the Anthropocene and sustainability, technological labour (especially gendered and racialized labour), digital and “smart” culture (including smart cities and design), critical infrastructure studies, and the digital humanities.

In academic governance, I focus on fostering spaces of knowledge exchange and advocacy, especially through community collaboration. I serve as: an Associate Editor and Director of Communications for electronic book review, one of the oldest academic journals on the Internet; Co-Editor of The Digital Review; and a member of the Steering Committee of MediArXiv: The Open Archive for Media, Film, & Communication Studies. I’ve collaborated in projects with universities and non-profit organizations in the US, Germany, Hong Kong, France, and Switzerland, producing work in research-creation, health- and medical-based communication for children, and art performances and installations.

Selected publications

Edited Books

Post-Digital: Critical Debates from electronic book review volume 2, edited by Joseph Tabbi and co-edited by Jan Baetens, R.M. Berry, David Ciccoricco, Lai-Tze Fan, Davin Heckman, Robert Cashin Ryan, Laura Shackelford, and Brooks Sterritt. Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. Forthcoming.


Didur, Jill and Lai-Tze Fan“Between Landscape and the Screen: Locative Media, Transitive Reading, and Environmental Storytelling.” Media Theory 2.1 (2018): 79-107. Special issue on “Geospatial Memory.”

Fan, Lai-Tze. “On the Value of Narratives in a Reflexive Digital Humanities: Towards Representing Figurative Meaning in the Database.” Digital Studies/Le champ numérique 8.1 (2018): 1-29.

Fan, Lai-Tze. “Material Matters in Digital Representation: Tree of Codes as a Literature of Disembodiment.” Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal 51.1 (2018): 37-53.

Fan, Lai-Tze, Mary Grace Lao, Priya Rehal, Andrea Luc, and Anthony Jeethan. “Navigating Racialized Spaces in Academia: Critical Reflections from a Roundtable.” COMMposite 19.3 (2017): 59-68.

Fan, Lai-Tze. “Writing while Wandering: Material and Spatial Contingency in Locative Media Narratives.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 23.1 (2017): 5-19. Special Issue: “Writing Digital: Practice, Performance, Theory.”

Book Chapters

Fan, Lai-Tze. “Behind-the-Screens Storytelling: Towards a Critical Ecology of Electronic Literature.” Digital Space in Narrative Theory, edited by Daniel Punday, Routledge, 15 pp. Forthcoming.

Fan, Lai-Tze. “Digital Nature.” Nature and Literary Studies, edited by Peter Remien and Scott Slovic. Series: “Cambridge Critical Concepts,” Cambridge University Press, 20 pp. Forthcoming.

Tschofen, Monique, Nataleah Hunter-Young, Lai-Tze Fan, and Dan Browne. “Reforming Critique: Critical Making as Method and Practice.”Comparative Literature in Canada: Issues of Scholarship, Pedagogy and Publishing in the Contemporary Conjuncture, edited by Susan Ingram and Irene Sywenky, Lexington Books, 2019, pp. 135-157.

Fan, Lai-Tze. “Symbiotic Authorship: A Comparative Textual Criticism of AI-Generated and Human-Edited Poetry.” ReRites: Responses, edited by Stephanie Strickland, Anteism, 2019, pp. 57-64.

Fan, Lai-Tze “The Digital Intensification of Postmodern Poetics.” The Poetics of Genre in the Contemporary Novel. Ed. Tim Lanzendörfer. Lanham, MD; London, UK: Lexington Books, 2016. 35-55.

Select Fellowships & Awards

  • UW/SSHRC Explore Seed Grant, University of Waterloo, 2019
  • Early Career Scheme Grant, Hong Kong Research Grants Council, 2018 (declined)
  • Faculty Research Grant, Lingnan University, 2017-2018
  • Outcomes-Based Education Fund for Digital Making & Practice, Lingnan University, 2017-2018
  • CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) Research Patient-Oriented Collaboration Grant, 2017
  • Lisa Lena Young Scholar Prize, international Alliance of the Digital Humanities Organization
  • Provost Dissertation Prize, York University

Current research

My two next major projects will analyze how interactive narratives can address three pressing issues in global digital research: media materiality and sustainability, planned obsolescence and the open source movement, and alternate histories and archival. My next planned monograph, Unseen Hands: A Material History of Women and Technoculture in 20th/21st C Writing Machines, and my next research-creation project, Open (Re)source, both use storytelling techniques to identify alternative subjects, objects, and histories in media and technoculture.

Areas of graduate supervision

  • Digital media, history, and interface/aesthetic representation
  • Storytelling across media forms
  • Technological cultures and infrastructures (especially materiality, sustainability, and gendered labour)
  • Critical and creative digital humanities (including electronic literature)
  • Post-1945 and contemporary American and British literature
University of Waterloo

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