Assistant Professor

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

Extension 35367
Office: HH 367



I was born and raised in Toronto, and have family roots in Hong Kong and Shanghai. After finishing a BA in English Literature at York University (with Film and Creative Writing as my unofficial minors), I did a Master’s in English & Film at Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo. My growing interest in how we tell stories with multimedia led me to an interdisciplinary PhD in York/Ryerson’s Joint Communication & Culture Program. Working between two universities in Toronto (one political and theoretical, the other practical and creative) enriched my research so that I could never create without critique, nor theorize without asking about culture; I’m better off as a scholar for this dynamic!

My research on narrative looks at different media over history—including storytelling in oral cultures, manuscript and book cultures, photography, cinema, and digital media. However, branching from traditional media history, my work identifies alternative histories of subjects, objects, and infrastructures that have been made invisible. My general research and teaching interests include media archaeology, intermedial and transmedial storytelling, research-creation projects, critical making/maker culture, the Anthropocene, technological labour (especially gendered labour), electronic literature, critical infrastructure studies, and the critical digital humanities.

My work in academic governance focuses 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. I’ve also collaborated in research projects with universities and non-profit organizations in the US, Germany, Hong Kong, France, and Switzerland.

Selected publications


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

“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.

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

With 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.

“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

“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.

“Converging Media and Modes: Digital Textuality and the Dissolution of Media Borders in Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts.Convergence Culture Reconsidered: Media, Participation, Environments. Eds. Claudia Georgi and Brigitte Johanna Glaser. Göttingen: University of Göttingen Press, 2015. 209-20.

Select Fellowships & Awards

  • 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
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Concordia University, 2016-2017
  • Lisa Lena Opas-Hänninen Young Scholar Prize, international Alliance of the Digital Humanities Organization, 2015
  • Provost Dissertation Prize, York University, 2014-2015

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 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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