Laura Shackelford Headshot

Laura Shackelford

Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts

585-475-2461
Office Location

Laura Shackelford

Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts

Education

BA, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis; MA, Ph.D. Indiana University

Bio

Research

My research focuses on narrative and literary practices and the transformations they have gone through in relation to emerging sciences of cybernetics, information, systems theory, and the physical sciences since World War II. I explore contemporary fiction, digital literature, interactive narrative, and storytelling hybrids (at the interstices of digital games, or animation, or film, or photography, or new media). Such literary experiments with emerging digital media, infrastructures and spatiotemporalities can help to diagnose and register significant changes in 21st century cultures and their increasingly embedded, computation-based processes and environments. Such fiction often directly engages with emerging material sciences, genomics, visualization software, and distributed networks to creatively reflect on the social, cultural, and artistic potentialities of, and unexplored dimensions to these emerging knowledges. They comparatively reflect on the consequences of these shifts to prior gendered and racialized, colonialist understandings of space, time, nation, and the global. Bringing scientific practices and storyworlds into conversation, their creative speculation serves as an important epistemological driver in conversation with these other material, technological, and symbolic practices.

In my book, Tactics of the Human: Experimental Technics in American Fiction, these interests led me to explore 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. I argue that such experimental, cross-media literary encounters with digital cultures enable us to critically reflect on contemporary digital cultures, information and systems sciences, and computation-based technologies in the U.S. Literary texts such as John Barth's "Click," Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl; or a Modern Monster, and Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead creatively and critically anticipate transformations digital cultures (and the post-war cybernetics, information, and systems sciences on which they draw) have since come to realize. They exploit these comparative media practices at the interstices of print and digital to reconsider potential alternatives to print-based understandings of sex, gender, identity, race, sexuality, nation, and the human that have defined the past centuries.

In more recent work, I consider digital literary writing, interactive, mixed-reality and augmented-reality narrative experiments as crucial means of engaging with transformations in lived space that are occuring at multiple scales and differentialy unfolding at sites as diverse as New York; Toronto; Accra, Ghana; Cotonou, Benin; Buenos Aires and Cordoba, Argentina today. Locating these contemporary digital literary practices within a longer history of literary practices of spatio-temporal, cultural, and social “re-orientation,” (in Sara Ahmed’s terms) I am interested in identifying the ways in which digital literary fiction is in conversation with bioinformatic sciences and computationally dense lifeworlds and how together they might allow us to reconsider human orientations to larger nonhuman macro and microworlds, and to re-think relationality more generally. This current book project is tentatively titled, Ordinary Entanglements: Digital Language, Bioinformatics, and New Fictions of Lived Space.

585-475-2461

Currently Teaching

ENGL-375
3 Credits
This course introduces the basic elements of narrative, reflecting on key concepts in narrative theory such as – story and plot, narration and focalization, characterization, storyspace, and worldmaking – to enhance your understanding of how stories work and your ability to understand how such storytelling strategies convey their meaning and themes. After an initial exploration of storytelling traditions emerging from oral myth and short stories in print, we expand our inquiries into what a narrative is and what it can do by considering what happens to storytelling in graphic novels, digital games, and in recent electronic literature. Reflecting on competing definitions and varieties of narrative, the course raises the overarching question of why how we access, read, write, and circulate stories as a culture matters. Expect to read stories in a variety of media, to review basic concepts and conversations drawn from narrative theory, and to creatively experiment with the storytelling strategies we are analyzing in class. No familiarity with specific print, digital, or visual media necessary, though a willingness to read and reflect on stories in various media and to analyze their cultural significance will be essential.
ENGL-599
1 - 6 Credits
A program of study executed by an individual student with assistance and guidance by an instructor, outside a regular classroom setting. Guidelines for designing and gaining approval for an independent study are provided in College of Liberal Arts Policy I.D.
ENGL-320
3 Credits
Students will learn about foundational texts in one or more category of genre fiction and review its development in the 19th, 20th, and/or 21st centuries. Genre is a category characterized by similarities in style, or subject matter. Examples include science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, fanfiction, magical realism, or historical fiction. The course approaches genre fiction as literary form, as cultural artifact, and as philosophical speculation; students will learn to distinguish key features of genre fiction, including the historical inspiration as well as contemporary trends. This course is part of the immersion and minor in creative writing and the English immersion and minor. It may also be taken as an elective. The course may be taken up to two times for a total of 6 credit hours, as long as the topics are different.

Latest News

  • February 6, 2019

    Graphic with blue background and white text reads: The Center for Engaged Storycraft

    RIT launches Center for Engaged Storycraft

    Housed by RIT’s English department, the interdisciplinary Center for Engaged Storycraft addresses technological transformation and an explosion of interest in storytelling internationally over the past decade.

Select Scholarship

Published Conference Proceedings
Laura, Shackelford,. "R(e)orienting Poetics and Technics of Living Forms: Christian Bök’s The Xenotext: Book I." Proceedings of the 7th International Colloquium on the Philosophy of Technics: Literature, Culture, and Politics. Ed. Berti, Agustin. Cordoba, Argentina: n.p., 2018. Web. ∆
Invited Article/Publication
Laura, Shackelford,. "Entry in Web Companion to Amaranth Borsuk's The Book, MIT Press." Essential Knowledge: The Book. (2018). Web. ∆
Shackelford, Laura. "Surviving Codespace: Tracing Lived Space through Digital Literary Writing." WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 44: 1 & 2 (Spring/Summer 2016). (2016). Print. *
Shackelford, Laura. "Writing Touch at the Interface: Luxuria Superbia's Exploratory Play with Self-Writing." Frame: Journal of Literary Studies. (2015). Print. * ∆
Book Chapter
Laura, Shackelford,. "Reorienting Poetics through Lived Space." #WomenTechLit. Morgantown, West Virginia: University of West Virginia Press, 2017. 331-354. Print. ∆
Laura, Shackelford,. "Postmodern, Posthuman, Post-digital." The Bloomsbury Handbook of Electronic Literature. London, England: Bloomsbury Scholarly Press, 2017. 335-360. Print. ∆
Shackelford, Laura. "In Toxicating Languages of Bioinformatic Circulation: Poetics and other ‘smallwork’ in The Flame Alphabet." Narrating Life: Contagion, Immunity, Mutation. Ed. Elisabeth Friis and Stefan Herbrechter. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Rodopii/Brill Press, Experimental Practices series, 2016. 147-171. Print. *
Shackelford, Laura. "Systems Thinking in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Moonrise Kingdom." The Films of Wes Anderson: Critical Essays on an Indiewood Icon. Ed. Peter C. Kunze. NY, NY: Palgrave MacMillan Academic Press, 2014. 199-213. Print. *
Invited Keynote/Presentation
Shackelford, Laura. "Discussant, ROUND TABLE “Potential scenarios, values and models for digital humanism”." "Digital humanism: values and models for tomorrow?" An International Symposium. The International Network of ORBICOM chairs and The UNESCO ITEN Chair. Paris, France. 28 Oct. 2016. Conference Presentation. ∆
Laura, Shackelford,. "Following through on Touch and Exploratory Play at The Digital Interface." Structures of Digital Feeling Colloquium. Techne Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies. University of Buffalo. Buffalo, NY. 27 Mar. 2015. Conference Presentation. ∆
Shackelford, Laura. "R(e)orienting Poetics through Lived Space." International E-Poetry Festival. University of Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, AR, Argentina. 9 Jun. 2015. Conference Presentation. ∆
Shackelford, Laura. "Following Through on Touch and Exploratory Play at the Digital Interface." Structures of Digital Feeling Colloquium. Techne Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies, University of Buffalo. Buffalo, NY. 28 Mar. 2015. Guest Lecture. ∆
Shackelford, Laura. "I'm Right on the Edge Unfolding Wes Anderson's Recursive Gestures Through Media Time." Culture, Literature, and the Arts Program. University of Washington, Bothell. Seattle, WA. 22 Apr. 2014. Guest Lecture. ∆
Shackelford, Laura. "Reading Poetics Through Lived Space." E-Poetry 2014 Intensive Mayaguez. University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. 16 Mar. 2014. Conference Presentation. ∆
Shackelford, Laura. "Moves Like Poetics." EPC @ 20: Electronic Poetry Center's 20th Anniversary Symposium. Department of Media Study, University of Buffalo. Buffalo, NY. 11 Sep. 2014. Conference Presentation. ∆
Shackelford, Laura. "Reorienting Digital Cultures Through American Fiction: Feminist Knowledges of Literary Technics and Lived Space." Invited lecture. Department of English, University of Washington, Seattle. Seattle, WA. 23 Apr. 2014. Guest Lecture. ∆
Published Review
Shackelford, Laura. "Reading Topographies of Post-Postmodernism." Rev. of Post-Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism, by Jeffrey T. Nealon. ebr: Electronic Book Review 4 Apr. 2015: 1-15. Web. *
Journal Paper
Shackelford, Laura. "Migrating Modes: Multimodality in Digital Poetics as Another Kind of Language." Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 47. 4 (2014): 99-118. Print. *
Full Length Book
Shackelford, Laura. Tactics of the Human: Experimental Technics in American Fiction. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2014. Print. *