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Laura Shackelford

Assistant Professor
2116 Liberal Arts
(585) 475-2461
Ph.D. in English with specializations in Twentieth and Twenty-first century American literatures, Digital Poetics, and Science and Literature. Indiana University, Bloomington.
B.A. in English. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


My research examines and exploits the comparative perspective literary texts, in print or digital media, provide on digital cultures. I study literary encounters with digital cultures in a variety of media - print fiction, electronic literatures, digital games, graphic novels, and film.  I'm particularly interested in how such experimental, cross-media literary and artistic practices register and creatively and critically reflect on contemporary digital cultures, information and systems sciences, and computation-based technologies in the U.S.

My book, Tactics of the Human: Experimental Technics in American Fiction, returns to fiction published in the midst of the supposed 'digital revolution' from 1991-2002 that reflects on digital cultures by literally incorporating digital modes of expression and spatial forms (such as the hyperlink, or social network) into the print medium or reconsidering print literary practices by transposing them into a digital hypertext fiction. The book reflects on the comparative view literary texts such as John Barth's "Click," Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl; or a Modern Monster, and Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex provide on emerging digital cultures and, in particular, their efforts to think through the potential impact of digital cultures (and the post-war cybernetics, information, and systems sciences on which they draw), on previous, print-based understandings of sex, gender, identity, race, sexuality, nation, and the human. I argue that their comparative media practices point us towards important new ways that the literary participates in digital cultures.

Recent work includes an essay, "Migrating Modalities of Expression;" or Mode-Play in Electronic Poetry as Another Kind of Language," on Maria Mencia's electronic poetry, which experiments with multisensory or multimodal expression using text, moving text, sound, color, interactive elements, and video, capabilities that are unique to the digital medium, but also have ties to earlier poetic traditions such as concrete poetry. 


In direct and lively relation to my research, my current teaching repetoire includes courses in:

Narrative Moves: Storytelling in and Across Media; The Novel: Its Past and Futures; Science Fiction: Biopolitics; Topics in Women's & Gender Studies.

This spring, I'll pilot a new course I've designed on Text & Code that will examine the combinations of text and code that underlie emerging creative textual practices in electronic literatures, mobile communication, digital games, geospatial mapping, interactive and locative media, and augmented reality. Reflecting on the strategies we need to "read" such texts, the course will also consider the social, cultural, creative, and legal significance of these new kinds of creative textual practices.


Peer-reviewed book & articles

Tactics of the Human: Experimental Technics in American Fiction. University of Michigan Press, publication in Fall 2014.

“Systems Thinking in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Moonrise Kingdom.” In The Films of Wes Anderson, ed. Pete Kunze. Forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan Acadmic Press in May 2014.

“Migrating Modalities of Expression; or, Mode-Play in Digital Poetics as Another Kind of Language.” Accepted for publication (on successful completion of revisions), Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature.

“Reading Topographies of Post-Postmodernism.” A review of Jeffrey Nealon’s Post-Postmodernism, Stanford University Press, 2012. Forthcoming in Electronic Book Review (ebr), a peer-reviewed journal of critical writing.

“Subject to Change: The Monstrosity of Media in Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl and other Posthumanist Critiques of the Instrumental.” Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, issue 63, vol. 21, no. 3 (Winter 2006): 62-101.

“Counter-Networks in a Network Society: Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead.” Postmodern Culture, issue 16.3 (May 2006).

“Narrative Subjects Meet their Limits: John Barth’s ‘Click’ and the Remediation of Hypertext.” Contemporary Literature 46.2 (2005): 275-310.

Recent Presentations

“Found Affect in E-Poetics;” International E-Poetry Festival 2013, Kingston University. London, June 19, 2013.

Invited Talk: E-Poetry 2012 Buffalo Summer Intensive. “Migrating Modalities of Expression; or, Mode-Play in Digital Poetics.” Event organized by Loss Pequeño Glazier, Director, Electronic Poetry Center and Professor of Media Study, University at Buffalo. May 16-18, 2012.

Guest Lecture. “Generative Writing.” Writing for Interactive Media, course in Interactive Media and Game Design taught by Stephen Jacobs, Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, Rochester Institute of Technology, March 26, 2013.

Respondent. N. Katherine Hayles. ''Are Digital Media Changing the Way We Think?'' Inaugural Lecture, Eugene K. Fram Chair in Critical Thinking. Oct. 11, 2012.