Assistant Professor

Photo of Lai-Tze Fan.

Editor of electronic book review

Editor of the digital review

PhD, York University
MA, Wilfrid Laurier​ University
BA, York University



Research and Teaching Areas

Research areas include:

  • Science and technology studies
  • Systemic biases in technological design, including AI
  • Critical code and software studies
  • Critical infrastructure studies
  • Research-creation

Teaching areas include:

  • Science and technology studies
  • Social implications of technological design and policy, especially gendered, racialized, and class-based biases
  • Technological histories, cultures, and infrastructures

Current Research

My general research and teaching interests include digital storytelling (including electronic literature), science and technology studies, systemic biases in technological design, critical code and software studies, critical infrastructure studies, technological approaches to climate change and sustainability, and research-creation projects that explore these topics through creative practice.

With roots in Communications, Media Studies, English Literature, 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, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Concordia University in Montréal, and a visiting scholar at the University of Mainz in Germany. This career trajectory has allowed me to take on leadership roles in international research and artistic projects, scholarly journals, and professional boards and associations.

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 pedagogical applications of 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).

For more information, please see my CV:

Select 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.; .

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

Recent Articles

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, 20 pp. In press, July 2022.

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 by Chelsea 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 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.

Other Recent 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.

Interview: Fan, Lai-Tze. “’A Snap of the Universe’: Digital Storytelling, as in Conversation with Caitlin Fisher.” electronic book review. Special issue: “Decoding Canadian Digital Poetics.” 7 February 2021.

Essay: Anderson, Rebecca and Lai-Tze Fan. “How to Succeed at Teaching Online and Virtual Education.” Hook & Eye, 26 Oct 2020. 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

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 (Virtual). 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.
Electronic Literature Collection 4. Eds. Kathi Inman Berens, John Murray, Lyle Skains, Rui Torres, and Mia Zamora. Forthcoming.

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, in progress.

Select Research Grants and Awards

  • 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, UW/SSHRC Explore Seed Grant, University of Waterloo, 2019
  • PI, Early Career Scheme Grant, Hong Kong Research Grants Council, 2018 (declined)
  • 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
  • Lisa Lena Young Scholar Prize, international Alliance of the Digital Humanities Organization
  • Provost Dissertation Prize, York University

Select Professional Activities

In academic governance, I focus on fostering spaces of knowledge exchange and advocacy, especially through community collaboration. Currently, I serve as: an Editor and the Director of Communications for electronic book review, one of the oldest academic journals on the Internet; Editor of the digital review; a member of the Board of Directors 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.

University of Waterloo

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