Lai-Tze Fan

Assistant Professor Cross-Appointed | Canada Research Chair in Technology and Social Change (Tier 2 SSHRC) | Director, The U&AI Lab

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

Editor, electronic book review
Editor, the digital review

Extension 45367



My research seeks to intervene in biased technological design and to heighten technological literacy, with my CRC research focused on artificial intelligence. I’m the Director of The U&AI Lab at U Waterloo, which uses research-creation (creative and artistic) methods for enhanced EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) outcomes in AI.

With roots in Media Studies, English Literature, Cultural Studies, and Design, my work is interdisciplinary by nature. Prior to coming to U Waterloo, I was an Assistant Professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University in Montréal, and a visiting scholar at the University of Mainz in Germany. I also hold a visiting Associate Professor II position at the University of Bergen, Norway in their Centre for Digital Narrative.

I am an active member of the international electronic literature community, using theories in narrative, critical design, and critical code studies to analyze texts as well as create them in interactive formats such as generative poetry and VR storytelling.

I am always open to learning new things, including from other disciplines, so if you have an idea, you should contact me. (:

For more information, please see my CV:

Select Professional Activities

In academic governance, I focus on fostering spaces of knowledge creation, knowledge exchange, and advocacy, especially through community collaboration. Currently, I serve on the Executive Committee for the U Waterloo TRuST network (Trust in Research Undertaken in Science and Technology). I also serve as an Editor and the Director of Communications for electronic book review, one of the oldest academic journals on the Internet (est. 1995); Editor of the digital review; a Board Member of the international Electronic Literature Organization; an Advisory Board Member of McMaster University’s Centre for Networked Media and Performance (CNMAP); and member of the Steering Committee of MediArXiv: The Open Archive for Media, Film, & Communication Studies, among other positions.

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.

Edited Special Journal Issues

“Critical Making, Critical Design,” edited by Lai-Tze Fan. Special double issue of electronic book review and the digital review. 12 September 2021. Funded by the Canadian federal SSHRC Connection Grant. https://thedigitalreview.com .

“Decoding Canadian Digital Poetics,” edited by Dani Spinosa and Lai-Tze Fanelectronic book review. 7 February 2021. .

Recent Articles

Fan, Lai-Tze. “Reverse Engineering the Gendered Design of Amazon’s Alexa: Methods in Testing Closed-Source Code in Grey and Black Box Systems.” Digital Humanities Quarterly vol. 17, no. 2. Special issue: “Critical Code Studies.” .

Fan, Lai-Tze, Kishonna Gray, and Aynur Kadir. “How to Design Games that Promote Racial Equity.” electronic book review. Special issue: “Critical Making, Critical Design.” 12 September 2021. .

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.”

Recent Book Chapters

Fan, Lai-Tze. “Digital Nature.” Nature and Literary Studies, edited by Peter Remien and Scott Slovic. Series: “Cambridge Critical Concepts,” Cambridge University Press, 2022, pp. 339-54.

Fan, Lai-Tze. “From Screen to Silicon: Reverse Engineering the Computational Infrastructure of Nick Montfort’s Round.” Digital Narrative Spaces: An Interdisciplinary Examination, edited by Daniel Punday, Routledge, 2021, pp. 88-108.

Fan, Lai-Tze. “e-Waste Peep Show: A Research-Creation Project on the (In)visibility of Technological Waste.” Right Research: Modelling Sustainable Research Practices in the Anthropocene, edited byChelsea Miya, Oliver Rossier, and Geoffrey Rockwell, Open Book Publishers, 2021, pp. 257-273.

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 bySusan 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.

Other Select Publications

Short article: Fan, Lai-Tze. “Research-Creation for the Community: Pedagogy, Feminist Maker Cultures, and the Critical Work of Making Face Masks in the Time of COVID-19.” English Studies in Canada vol. 44, no. 4, 2021 (listed as 2018), pp. 39-46. Solicited.

Essay: Fan, Lai-Tze. “How to Write an Academic Cover Letter.” Hook & Eye, 5 Oct 2017.  Solicited. Re-posted 8 Oct 2018.

Recent Research-Creation

VR art installation: Armstrong, Jolene, Kelly Egan, Lai-Tze Fan, Caitlin Fisher, Angela Joosse, Kari Maaren, Siobhan O’Flynn, Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof, and Monique Tschofen. “Memory Eternal: The Book of Mourning.” Unity for VR. 2023 Meeting of the Electronic Literature Organization. July 2023. Role: Writer, researcher, UX/UI consultant.

Digital art gallery: Armstrong, Jolene, Kelly Egan, Lai-Tze Fan, Caitlin Fisher, Angela Joosse, Kari Maaren, Siobhan O’Flynn, Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof, and Monique Tschofen. “Decameron 2.0 Virtual Gallery.” Unity for WebGL. 2022 Meeting of the Electronic Literature Organization. May 2022.

Digital art installation: Fan, Lai-Tze, Anne Sullivan, Anastasia Salter. Masked Making: Uncovering Women’s Craft Labor during COVID-19. Exhibition of the 2021 Meeting of the Electronic Literature Organization. University of Aarhus, Denmark and University of Bergen, Norway. April 2021.

Electronic literature: Fan, Lai-Tze and Nick Montfort. “Dial,” digital poem. The New River: A Journal of Digital Art and Literature Spring 2020, n.p., 4 May 2020. and Electronic Literature Collection 4. Eds. Kathi Inman Berens, John Murray, Lyle Skains, Rui Torres, and Mia Zamora. July 2022.

Mobile application: Didur, Jill, Lai-Tze Fan, Tony Higuchi, Emma Saboureau, Eric Powell. Global Urban Wilds, Greening Narrative Project. Funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant. 08/2016 – 10/2021.

Select Research Grants & Awards

  • Arts Award for Excellence in Research, U Waterloo, 2023.
  • Outstanding Performance Award, U Waterloo, 2023.
  • N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism, international Electronic Literature Organization, 2022.
  • PI, Tier 2 SSHRC Canada Research Chair, 2022 – 2027.
  • PI, CFI-JELF for “The U&AI Lab”, 2022 – 2027.
  • Co-Applicant, SSHRC Partnership Grant, 2022 – 2029.
  • PI, SSHRC Connection Grant, 2021 – 2022.
  • PI, Canada First Research Excellence Fund/Quantum Quest Seed Fund, 2021 – 2023.
  • PI, SSHRC Insight Development Grant, 2020 – 2023.
  • PI, Outcomes-Based Education Fund for Digital Making & Practice, Lingnan University, 2017 – 2018.
  • Co-Applicant, CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) Research Patient-Oriented Collaboration Grant, 2017 – 2018.
  • Lisa Lena Young Scholar Prize, international Alliance of the Digital Humanities Organization
  • Provost Dissertation Prize, York University

Current research

I am currently writing a SSHRC-funded monograph called Unseen Hands: The Gendered Design of Technologies from Typewriters to AI Digital Assistants, which addresses a gap in the study of women’s labour in science and technology: the ways in which technologies associated with gendered labour are already, in fact, gendered by design—and have been so since the Industrial era.

I’m co-editing a book collection on Twine (the open-source edigital storytelling platform) with Emily Christina Murphy (University of British Columbia, Okanagan).

I am PI for a research project with UW’s Institute for Quantum Computing that uses AR/XR storytelling to communicate quantum mechanics fundamentals and quantum-assisted machine learning. My collaborators are Professors Caitlin Fisher (York University) and Victoria McArthur (Carleton University).

Areas of graduate supervision

I supervise, train, and mentor students through my U&AI Lab, which offers safe, inclusive spaces for quiet working, collaborative research, research-creation (creative research experiments), and team building and exchanges. Graduate students can e-mail me to discuss supervision, mentorship, and collaborations in the following areas:

  • Science and technology studies (especially AI and digital media)
  • Gender and racial inequity
  • Research-creation
  • Contemporary literature
  • Electronic literature
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to technology

I am open to co-authoring papers for conferences and publication with students and artists.