Lai-Tze Fan

Assistant Professor

Dr. Lai-Tze Fan

Prof. Fan

Canada Research Chair in Technology and Social Change (Tier 2 SSHRC)

Assistant Professor

Director, The U&AI Lab

Editor of electronic book review

Editor of the digital review

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



Research and Teaching Areas

Research areas include:

  • Science and technology studies
  • Systemic biases in technological design, especially AI
  • Critical and creative code and software studies
  • Research-creation and other creative research methods, especially digital storytelling
  • Feminist technoscience
  • Cultural sociology of media
  • Labour and inequality
  • Technological literacy, public knowledge, and mis/disinformation in science and technology

Teaching areas include:

  • Science and technology studies
  • Social implications of technological design, policy, governance, regulation
  • Cultural sociology of media
  • Labour and inequality (especially gendered and racialized inequality)
  • Qualitative methods

Current Research

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

My PhD (Communication & Culture) focused on Media & Culture, Technology in Practice, and Politics & Policy. However, 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.

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:

Student Supervision, Training, and Collaboration

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, digital media, big data, and/or surveillance technologies), gender and racial inequity, research-creation, and interdisciplinary approaches to technology, sociology, and cultural studies. I regularly co-author papers for conferences and publication with students and artists.

Upper-year undergraduates can work in my Lab through RAships or through the course SOC 497: Honours Research Practicum. Please e-mail me for more information.

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

“Vibrant Materialities across Media, Literature, and Theory,” edited by Monique Tschofen and Lai-Tze Fan. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies vol. 14, no. 2. .

“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.

VR application: Fan, Lai-Tze, Lulu Liu, and Leslie Xin. Find Yourself. Funded by a University of Waterloo Institute of Quantum Computing “Quantum Seed Grant.” Unity. July 2022. Role: PI, lead researcher, consulting UX designer.

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 and 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, ORF-RI for “The U&AI Lab,” 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

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 of 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.