Astrid Ensslin, MA, PhD (Heidelberg, s.c.l.), FHEA, FRSA

Professor, Faculty of Arts - Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Dept


Professor, Faculty of Arts - Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Dept




Welcome to my UofA homepage.

I am a Professor in Digital Humanities and Game Studies and Director of Media and Technology Studies in the Faculty of Arts. Prior to coming here I held faculty, Faculty management (Deputy Dean Research), research, and teaching positions in the UK, at the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Bangor. I have authored or edited eight books on digital culture, electronic literature, narrative, games, and media discourse, including Approaches to Videogame Discourse (Bloomsbury, 2019), Small Screen Fictions (Paradoxa, 2018), Literary Gaming (MIT Press, 2014), Analyzing Digital Fiction (Routledge, 2013), The Language of Gaming (Palgrave, 2011), Creating Second Lives: Community, Identity and Spatiality as Constructions of the Virtual (Routledge, 2011), Canonizing Hypertext: Explorations and Constructions (Bloomsbury, 2007), and Language in the Media: Representations, Identity, Ideology (Bloomsbury, 2007). Amongst other external roles, I am Editor of Cambridge University Press's Elements in Publishing and Book Culture: Digital Fiction minigraph series, Principal Editor of the Bloomsbury "Electronic Literature" book series, a Director of the Electronic Literature Organization, and Director of the Electronic Literature Directory. I have led internationally funded research projects on body image and digital narrative therapy; videogames across cultures; reading and analyzing digital fiction; language ideologies in videogames; and specialized language corpora.


My research sits at the multiple intersections between digital media/culture, literary studies and applied linguistics. My research involves numerous interdisciplinary projects, such as combining digital fiction research with body image psychology; and studying speech accents in videogames using machine learning techniques.

Recent research projects include:

  • "Writing New Bodies: Critical Co-design for 21st Century Digital-born Bibliotherapy" (PI, SSHRC Insight Grant, approx. $208,000; 2018-2020)
  • "Dyscorpia: the Future of Art at the Intersections of the Body and Technology" (CI, SSHRC Connections Grant, $42,585, 2018-2019)
  • "Speech Accents in Games": folk linguistic player discourses, character voice design, and speech recognition / deep learning (PI on SSHRC ReFiG sub-project, approx. $18,000; CI on KIAS Cluster grant, "Deep Learning for Sound Recognition," 2017-18) 
  • Digital Narratives around the World (KIAS Dialog Grant, $1770, 2017) - symposium and evolving research groups
  • Reading Digital Fiction (AHRC-funded, UK-based, approx. $420,000)
  • Monograph project (with Alice Bell): Digital Fiction and the Unnatural: Theory, Method, Analysis; forthcoming with Ohio State University Press, 2021 (Sheila Watson Recruitment Fellowship, $10,000, 2016-2018)
  • The Lore of Pre-Web Electronic Literature and The Eastgate Quarterly Review of Hypertext (Endowment Fund for the Future: Support for the Advancement of Scholarship Fund: $2,500, 2018; Visiting Scholarship, Electronic Literature Lab, Washington State University, Vancouver, 2019) 

Follow this link for more information, for example about my past research projects, a full list of publications and my current CV.


My past and current teaching has been mostly in media, communication and cultural studies, and particularly in digital media, videogames, electronic literature and digital fiction, transmedial narratology and, quite some time ago, German language, literature and culture.

Courses taught at UAlberta:

  • HUCO 617 / DH 510 Digital Fictions (Fall 2016, Fall 2017, and Winter 2020)
  • HUCO 530 Project Design and Management in the Digital Humanities (Winter 2017) - in collaboration with Community Service Learning
  • C LIT 210 Cyberliterature (Winter 2018)
  • MLCS 210 Language(s) of Culture (Winter 2019 and Winter 2020)
  • MLCS 399 Videogames Across Cultures (Fall 2018)
  • MLCS 499 Directed Reading: Advanced Critical Game Design and Theory (Winter 2019)
  • MLCS 795 Grant Writing (Graduate Portfolio) (Fall 2017 and 2018)

Courses offered in 2020/21:

  • MLCS 345 Videogames Across Cultures (Fall)
  • DH 530 - A1 Videogames Across Cultures (Fall)
  • MLCS 795 Grant Writing (Fall)
  • MLCS 210 Language(s) of Culture (Winter)

I'm interested in supervising graduate students in the following areas:

  • digital narratives and postclassical (cognitive, transmedial, medium-specific, unnatural ...) narratology
  • game studies
  • electronic literature
  • the language of gaming
  • videogames across cultures (including minority / indigenous cultures)
  • digital feminisms, gender, and the body
  • digital communication and media discourse studies, including corpus approaches to discourse analysis and language in the media
  • empirical reader response research, especially in relation to electronic literature and digital fiction.

I particularly welcome proposals that combine these areas with an interdisciplinary focus and/or relate in some way to my current research. Feel free to get in touch to discuss your envisaged topics or draft proposals with me.

Recent graduate projects I have supervised to completion:

  • Dr James Barrett, "Reading Freedom: Techniques for the Control of Reading in Four Works of Digital Literature" 
  • Dr Sonia Fizek, "A Methodological Toolkit for Player Character Research in Offline Role-Playing Games" 
  • Dr Xavier Laurent, "Memory of Intelligent Virtual Agents in a 3D Environment: a Behavioural and Computational Approach" 
  • Dr Lyle Skains, "Practice-led Creative Writing Research into Multimodal Digital Narratives" 
  • Bamdad Aghilidehkordi, "Re-evaluating Reality in the Age of VR: Toward an Embodied VR"
  • Jocelyn Beyer, "Playing with Consent: An Autoethnographic Analysis of Representations of Race, Rape, and Colonialism in BioWare’s Dragon Age
  • Olga Johanna Gonzalez Arismendi, "Using the Minecraft Affinity Subspace 'Frist Dimension' to Negotiate Information Literacy"
  • Evgeniya Kuznetsova, "Trauma in Games: Narrativizing Denied Agency, Ludonarrative Dissonance and Empathy Play" 
  • Elizaveta Tarnaruckaia, "Mr. Robot and the Romantic Genius: The Figure of the Programmer in Contemporary Mass Culture"
  • Greg Whistance-Smith, "Spatial Communication in Videogame Environments: Exploring, Enacting, Perceiving" 




Approaches to Videogame Discourse: Lexis, Interaction, Textuality

Author(s): Astrid Ensslin, Isabel Balteiro
Publication Date: 2019
External Link:

Analyzing Digital Fiction

Author(s): Alice Bell, Astrid Ensslin, Hans K. Rustad
Publication Date: 2014
External Link:

Literary Gaming

Author(s): Astrid Ensslin
Publication Date: 2014
Publication: MIT Press
External Link:

Creating Second Lives: Community, Identity and Spatiality as Constructions of the Virtual

Author(s): Astrid Ensslin, Eben Muse
Publication Date: 2011
External Link:

The Language of Gaming

Author(s): Astrid Ensslin
Publication Date: 2011
External Link:

Language in the Media: Representations, Identities, Ideologies

Author(s): Sally Johnson, Astrid Ensslin
Publication Date: 2007
External Link:

Small Screen Fictions

Author(s): Astrid Ensslin, Lisa Swanstrom, Pawel Frelik (eds)
Publication: Paradoxa
Volume: 20
External Link: