Maureen Engel is associate professor of Digital Humanities in the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies. She holds a BA from Carleton University, an MA from University of Toronto, and a PhD from Alberta, all in English. She is originally from Ottawa, but has lived in Alberta long enough that most Albertans forgive her. She is currently on leave as an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.
Formally trained as a textual scholar, my background is in cultural studies, queer theory, and feminist theory. My principal research area is the spatial humanities, and the intricate relationships that inhere in and develop from the concepts of space, place, history, and narrative. My most recent project, Go Queer, is a ludic, locative media experience that occurs on location, in the city, on the playful border between game and story, the present and the past, the queer and the straight, the normative and the slant. A variation on the scavenger hunt mechanic, the app invites its users to drift queerly through the city, discovering the hidden histories that always surround us, yet somehow remain just beyond our apprehension. It displays text, images, video and audio in place at the actual locations where they occurred, creating what Richardson and Hjorth (2014, 256) call “the hybrid experience of place and presence.” By bringing together the physical navigation of the contemporary city with the imaginative navigation of its queer past, the app enacts a praxis that I characterize as a queer ludic traversal, one that renders the navigation itself as queer as the content that it presents.