Center for Digital Narrative
Center for Digital Narrative

Meet the professor IIs at Center for Digital Narrative

Read on for an overview of the works, interests, and specialties of the external professors affiliated with the department’s Center for Digital Narrative.

Professor II ved CDN
AFFILIATED PROFESSORS: Meet the professor IIs which will be affiliated with the CDN during its first 5 years. From left: Doris C. Rusch, Lin Prøitz, Lai-Tze Fan, Caitlin Fisher og Rafael Pérez y Pérez.
Eivind Senneset, UiB

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Center for Digital Narrative will be led by Scott Rettberg and Jill Walker Rettberg, and will be focused on digital narrative – forms of contemporary storytelling at the intersection of human intelligence, computational systems, and algorithmic processes, which we all produce, share, and scroll past each day. 

Electronic literature in historical context

The CDN’s principal investigators include Kristine Jørgensen, Nick Montfort, Jason Nelson, and Joseph Tabbi. Their activities will be supported by the creativity and expertise of a diverse team of interdisciplinary researchers from other universities around the world, expert in various aspects of digital narrative, who will work with the Norway-based team in 20% Professor II positions.  The Professor IIs affiliated with the CDN during its first 5 years of operation will include researching:

Assistant Professor Lai-Tze Fan from the University of Waterloo, Canada, who will together with Joseph Tabbi develop case studies that explore electronic literature’s emergent genres in their historical context.

Lai-Tze Fan is an interdisciplinary researcher in the fields of media studies, science and technology studies, literary studies, design, and cultural studies who has developed innovative storytelling methods focused on knowledge mobilization and its accessibility to everyday citizens and key decision makers, often by addressing the unethical implications of technological design. One example of this work is her smartphone application Global Urban Wilds, which she co-designed for the city of Montréal. The co-authored paper “Between Landscape and the Screen: Locative Media, Transitive Reading, and Environmental Storytelling” (2018) details the project’s stages of development and its method of “embodied knowing,” where the user learns about spaces and objects through physical encounters.

Fan currently serves as an Editor and the Director of Communications for the open-access journal electronic book review and Editor of the digital review. Her most recent work on digital narrative, digital design, and knowledge mobilization is an independently edited, special double issue of both of these journals called “Critical Making, Critical Design” (September 2021), funded by the federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.

Computational models for narrative generation

Professor Rafael Pérez y Pérez from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Cuajimalpa, Mexico, who will explore computational models for narrative generation alongside Nick Montfort.

Rafael Pérez y Pérez is the founder-director of the Interdisciplinary Group on Computational Creativity, whose members have developed models for plot generation, the representation of social norms, visual narratives, interior design, visual composition, creative problem solving, and creative developmental agents. Pérez y Pérez himself is the author of the MEXICA program, which generates short stories in English and Spanish about the Mexicas (also known as the Aztecs), the old inhabitants of what is today México City. It is based on the Engagement-Reflection Computer Model for Creative Writing, meaning that it can evaluate its own outputs and produce collaborative narratives. Twenty of the program’s bilingual creations are collected in a volume called MEXICA 20 years – 20 stories [20 años – 20 historias], released by Counterpath Press in 2017.

Pérez y Pérez will publish the book Story Machines with Professor Mike Sharples through Routledge later this year. It will explore machines as authors of fiction – past, present, and future – and cover the evolution of humans as story machines in themselves, together with discussions about AI neural networks for story generation, story-generating tools for writers, and story-led computer games.

Interactive games with therapeutical approaches

Dr. Doris C. Rusch, Senior Lecturer at Uppsala University, Sweden, will research and model interactive games that seek to develop therapeutical approaches in collaboration with Kristine Jørgensen.

Doris C. Rusch is the vision holder and lead designer on many award winning games dealing with mental health issues and other salient aspects of the human condition, among them Elude (about depression); Akrasia (on addiction); Soteria - Dreams as Currency (about anxiety); and A Beautiful Story (on domestic violence and the cycle of abuse). She received the Spirit of Inquiry award for this work at DePaul University. Rusch is also the author of the Routledge book Making Deep Games: Designing Games with Meaning and Purpose, as well as numerous journal papers, book chapters, conference presentations, and keynotes at GDC, FDG, Meaningful Play, FROG, DiGRA and a variety of other well-known games conferences.

Her TEDx talk, “Why Game Designers are Better Lovers,” captures the spirit of her practice well. In it, she presents a take on game design inspired by her practice as a life coach, discussing how the creation of games about personal issues in collaboration with others can stimulate dialogue, empathy, and deep interpersonal connection. At the same time, co-creating games can engender a liberating and playful distance to their subject matter, opening challenging problems up to safe exploration and concrete solutions.

Minority narratives in social media

Professor Lin Prøitz from Østfold University College, Norway, will lead a project on minority narratives in social media with Jill Walker Rettberg.

Lin Prøitz research has explored young people’s social engagement through photography; sexual-romantic encounters and negotiations via mobile communication services such as SMS; fantasies of happiness as these are played out on social media; and how new technologies and ‘digital capitalism’ have affected how we understand and perform labour, among other topics. She was among the first scholars to do qualitative and ethnographic work on digital and mobile media communication, and her publications have been groundbreaking for understanding how new digital technologies move and disrupt not just the private-public boundary, but also how we feel and align ourselves with others.

She has applied a norm-critical perspective throughout her work, meaning that she continually explores how social categories such as gender, sexual identity and orientation, ability, class, race, ethnicity, economic status, religion, national origin, etc., act and interact with individuals’ conditions and possibilities. This perspective aims to make visible how knowledge and science are produced and how this knowledge production has the capacity to maintain and pursue inequality and difference.

Prøitz is originally educated as a photographer. Since 2011, she has collaborated with artists and curators to thematize public intimacies, such as in the iBook-publication Selvbilde: fra selvportrett til #selfie.

Currently she is working on the art project “Corona-monologues.” In this artwork, artists, authors, and researchers explore the multifaceted significance that the COVID-19 pandemic has had for relations between people – zooming in on belonging, community, and intimacy on the one hand, and on individualism, freedom, and distance, on the other.

Practed-based experimental research on digital narratives

Professor Caitlin Fisher from York University, Canada, will collaborate with Scott Rettberg and Jason Nelson on practed-based experimental research seeking to extend the shape and scope of digital narrative.

Caitlin Fisher is co-founder of York's Future Cinema Lab and director of the Immersive Storytelling Lab, Fisher’s research investigates the future of narrative by exploring interactive storytelling and interactive cinema using augmented reality (AR), which integrates artificially generated graphics, sounds, haptics, and smells into real-world environments. She is committed to innovation in the area of AR content creation; the pioneering of experimental literary forms; and the sustainability of a vibrant cross-disciplinary research culture, so foundational to the development of the expressive tools that will allow artists to explore and advance XR as an artistic medium.

Her hypermedia novella, These Waves of Girls, won the Electronic Literature Organization's 2001 Award for Fiction, and her augmented reality poem, Andromeda, was awarded the 2008 International Vinaros Prize for Electronic Literature.

Fisher is Vice-President of the international Electronic Literature Organization and serves on the Executive Committee for HASTAC – the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory: “Changing the Way We Teach and Learn.” She is currently Chair of York University’s Department of Cinema and Media Arts.