Keynote Speakers for the International Games and Narrative Conference

Astrid Ensslin

Astrid Ensslin headshotDr. Astrid Ensslin (she/her) is Associate Professor in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen in Norway. Her research engages with narratological approaches to digital fiction and literary games, theories of gender and the body, participatory-feminist methods of research-creation, ludic discourses, historical electronic literature, and language ideologies in digital media. Some of her main publications include Digital Fiction and the Unnatural: Transmedial Narrative Theory, Method and Analysis (Ohio State UP, 2021; with Alice Bell); Approaches to Videogame Discourse (Bloomsbury, 2019; with Isabel Balteiro); Small Screen Fictions (Paradoxa, 2017; with Lisa Swanstrom and Pawel Frelik); Literary Gaming (MIT Press, 2014), Analyzing Digital Fiction (Routledge, 2013; with Alice Bell and Hans K. Rustad), and The Language of Gaming (Palgrave, 2011). She has led externally funded research projects on digital fiction as narrative therapy; videogames across cultures; empirical, medium-specific reading research; analyzing digital fiction; and specialized language corpora. Her new book, Digital Publishing and the Lore of Electronic Literature, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

Clara Fernández-Vara

Clara Fernandez-VaraDr. Clara Fernández-Vara is Associate Arts Professor at the NYU Game Center. She is a game scholar, designer and writer. Her main research interest is the study and creation of narrative games, the creation of fictional worlds for games. Clara’s digital media work is grounded in the humanities, informed by her background in literature, film and theatre, and her current interdisciplinary research focuses on the study of detective games. She has also worked on games for research as well as commercial titles for the companies such as Warner Bros., Big Fish Games, the Spanish National Ballet, and Die Gute Fabrik. Her book, Introduction to Game Analysis, is now on its second edition.

Elizabeth LaPensée

Beth Lapensée headshotDr. Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. She is Anishinaabe with family from Bay Mills, Métis, and Irish. She is an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University and a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow. Most recently, she designed When Rivers Were Trails (2019), a 2D adventure game following a displaced Anishinaabe during allotment in the 1890’s, which won the Adaptation Award at IndieCade 2019. She designed and created art for Thunderbird Strike (2017), a lightning-searing side-scroller game which won Best Digital Media at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival 2017.

Jan-Noël Thon

Jan-Noel ThonDr. Jan-Noël Thon is Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Art and Media Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Guest Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Media Culture and Theater at the University of Cologne, Germany, and Professorial Fellow in the School of Film, Media and Performing Arts at the University for the Creative Arts, UK. Recent books include From Comic Strips to Graphic Novels (co-edited with Daniel Stein, 2013/²2015), Storyworlds across Media (co-edited with Marie-Laure Ryan, 2014), Game Studies (co-edited with Klaus Sachs-Hombach, 2015), Transmedial Narratology and Contemporary Media Culture (2016/²2018), Subjectivity across Media (co-edited with Maike Sarah Reinerth, 2017/²2019), Comicanalyse (co-authored with Andreas Rauscher, Stephan Packard, Véronique Sina, Lukas R.A. Wilde, and Janina Wildfeuer 2019), and Comics and Videogames (co-edited with Andreas Rauscher and Daniel Stein, 2020).

Kishonna Gray

Kishonna GrayDr. Kishonna L. Gray (@kishonnagray) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois - Chicago. She is an interdisciplinary, intersectional, digital media scholar whose areas of research include identity, performance and online environments, embodied deviance, cultural production, video games, and Black Cyberfeminism.

Dr. Gray is the author of Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming (LSU Press, 2020). She is also the author of Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live (Routledge, 2014), and the co-editor of two volumes on culture and gaming: Feminism in Play (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2018) and Woke Gaming (University of Washington Press, 2018).  Dr. Gray has published in a variety of outlets across disciplines and has also featured in public outlets such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The New York Times.

Follow Dr. Gray on Twitter @KishonnaGray

Souvik Mukherjee

Dr. Souvik MukherjeeSouvik Mukherjee is Assistant Professor in Cultural Studies at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, India. Souvik’s research looks at the narrative and the literary through the emerging discourse of videogames as storytelling media and at how these games inform and challenge our conceptions of narratives, identity and culture.  Related interests and expertise include a broad spectrum of topics in Game Studies ranging from identity and temporality in videogames to the videogame industry in South-East Asia.  Currently, he is researching how videogames relate to Postcolonial Studies and separately, also how certain ancient Indian board-games contribute to the understanding of gameplay. Souvik is the author of two monographs, Videogames and Storytelling: Reading Games and Playing Books (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) and Videogames and Postcolonialism: Empire Plays Back (Springer UK 2017). Souvik has been named a ‘DiGRA Distinguished Scholar’ in 2019.   

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