I am an Assistant Professor of Digital Media, Culture, and Literature in the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong—an English-speaking university with a rigorous international research network.

I am also a Research Lead and Grant Writer for the international Breathing Games Commons. In 2016-2017, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at Concordia University (Montréal, Canada), affiliated with the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology and the TAG Lab (Technoculture, Art, and Games).

About Me

My research takes a critical and creative approach to media studies, digital studies, literary studies, and cultural studies. I develop innovative digital approaches and tools (including research-creation) towards a range of related research areas, including: narratives over various media and forms; media materiality and archaeology; environmental humanities; digital culture and user interaction; and the ethics/politics of technological infrastructures.

My research has been funded by three major awards, including York University’s Provost Dissertation Prize. In 2015, I was honoured to receive the international ADHO’s (Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations) Lisa Lena Opas-Hänninen Young Scholar Prize, in affiliation with the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities.

In my spare time, I enjoy travelling, meeting new people, arts and crafts, and good food (but who doesn’t enjoy this last one?).

CONTACT: laitzefan [at] ln [dot] edu [dot] hk

Portfolio

Global Urban Wilds

Locative and Mobile Media, Digital Narratives, Sustainability, Environmental Change

I am the Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the SSHRC-funded Insight Grant, “Greening Narrative: Locative Media in Global Environments” ($387,500 CAD), housed in the Department of English at Concordia University, Montréal, Canada. Under the supervision of Principal Investigator Professor Jill Didur, this research creation project develops a locative media application called “Global Urban Wilds,” which investigates how narratives in locative media can defamiliarize user assumptions about the environment, preservation, and sustainability in urban spaces.

In addition to developing this app, I created and manage the project website and I am organizing an international speaker series on locative media projects.

Computational Literary Studies

Critical and Creative Digital Humanities, Database Models, Narrativity, Text Analysis

This research approaches literary studies from the timely field of the digital humanities in order to promote greater humanistic and reflexive inquiry through the responsible development of digital tools. In relation to emergent reading practices such as distant reading and non-consumptive reading, I am developing innovative computational methods for literary engagement and text analysis. This research addresses tensions in representing elements of literary fiction—including figurative meaning and intermedial narration—through digital tools, including NoSQL databases and data visualization.

For the nascent stages of this research, I was honoured to receive the international ADHO’s (Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations) 2015 Lisa Lena Opas-Hänninen Young Scholar Prize for a paper entitled “On the Value of Narratives in a Reflexive Digital Humanities.”

Digital Narratives & Material Sustainability

Media Materiality, Digital Infrastructure, Planned Obsolescence, the Open Source Movement

This project (in development) composes digital narratives to address three issues that are increasingly salient in media studies: media materiality, planned obsolescence, and the open source movement. I will investigate how interactive narratives can propel user awareness of the roles of materiality in digital infrastructure—including in the production, consumerism, and reception of digital devices.

As part of the project development, I am experimenting with interactive storytelling methods in different media platforms and forms, including video games and media art. I have developed a mini video game called “In your Phone, In their Air” that was inspired by a Washington Post article on graphite production and pollution in Northeastern China. This game provides an exploratory environment for a journalist to investigate further into graphite, which is a mineral necessary for lithium-ion batteries (used in many digital devices).

Breathing Games

Health Education and Sustainability, Interactive Games, Free/Libre Movement, Open Source Technologies

I am Research Lead of Narrative Design and UX (user experience), as well as a Lead Grant Writer for the Breathing Games Commons, an international non-profit initiative. We build open source tools and interactive digital games that foster healthy respiratory behaviours and treatments for diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. Our current project is a series of a smart phone games that help children with asthma better manage and live with their illness.

Our goal is to make health technologies more available in homes, communities, and developing countries by making them locally and affordably reproducible, unlike solutions that are created in closed structures and protected by copyright. In addition, as our tools collect data, we gather vital information for health policy and research.

As a Lead Grant Writer, I have helped to secure numerous sources of research funding, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) Patient-Oriented Research Collaboration Grant (22,530 CAD) and from the Hospital Federation of France (100,000 EURO).

For more information about our game prototypes (including Lung Launcher and Peak Leap) please see our YouTube Page.

The Intermedial

Media History, Materiality, Contemporary Literature, Interfaces and Interaction

My doctoral research (defended 2016) was completed in the joint Communication and Culture graduate program at York University and Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada), and was supported by the prestigious York University Provost Scholarship.

My dissertation, “Pre | Digital Liminalities: A Hermeneutics of the Intermedial and Materiality in the Print Intermedial Novel,” utilized the frameworks of media archaeologycomparative media, and the critical digital humanities. It proposed intermediality as an analytical framework for shifting relationships among content, form, and materiality in newer and older media (including print, photography, cinema, and digital media). I focused on how narratives prompt readers to compare medium-specific literacies, demonstrating the collaboration of older and newer media in today’s cultural imagination and practice.

Part of my research revealed the “interfaceless” interface experience described by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin and offered by digital screens in HCI design (human-computer interaction). This effect of dematerializing devices, I argued, detracts from the costs, ethics, and politics of digital media. Since my PhD, I have sought to build on these lingering issues through my work in the digital humanities and interactive narratives.