make a site

Invited Talks

Invited Lectures

“Building Digital Ethics: Foregrounding Privacy and Ethics in DH Projects.” Bucknell University, September 2020.


Event sponsored by the Bucknell Humanities Center and DH@Bucknell.

"Cultural Appropriation and the Literary Imagination." Harvard University, March 2020.


Event sponsored by the Twentieth Century and Contemporary Literature Colloquium at Harvard University.

"Twitter Literature: Practices and Methods of Using Twitter Data in Literary Research." Northeastern University, November 2018.


Event sponsored by the Digital Scholarship Group at Northeastern University.

"Collaboration through Praxis." Regional DH Symposium. University of Virginia, March 2018.


Event sponsored by the University of Virginia Scholars' Lab.

"Human Machines and Mechanical Humans: Approaching Robotics through the Humanities." TEDxCharlottesville, November 2017.


Event sponsored by TEDx Charlottesville. Talk published online.

"Highbrow or Lowbrow? Considering the Gothic and Digital Literature." Washington and Lee University, March 2017.


Event funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For a reflection of the talk, visit the Digital Humanities @ Washington & Lee Blog Page.

Conference Presentations (selected)

"World-Building through Empathy in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being."  American Comparative Literature Association. Virtual Event, March 2021.


In “Narrative Empathy,” Suzanne Keen argues that the reader’s ability to “[fill] in all the [narrative] gaps to solidify in the imagination a coherent and whole storyworld involves centrally our capacity to empathize and to read mental states of characters.” This empathic identification and narrative construction is clearly on display in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being (2013), about which Ozeki states: “[I]t’s my job to create the parameters of [the novel], and then I propose it to the world, and then you and other readers step into the field. We collaborate. We create this world.” The narrative co-construction of fictional characters about which Ozeki speaks is echoed in Ozeki’s novel itself, which pivots between the fictional worlds of Naoko Yasutani (“Nao,” pronounced “Now”) and a fictional persona known as Ruth Ozeki (hereafter “Ruth”). On a small Canadian island, Ruth discovers the diary of Nao, a sixteen-year-old Japanese girl, and she proceeds to translate the diary from Japanese to English. In so doing, Ruth fictionally (re)constructs Nao’s world, modeling the linguistic, cultural, historical, and even material challenges that arise from this process for the reader. This paper leverages the model of narrative construction presented in A Tale with current arguments in affect theory and cognitive narrative studies in order to analyze how writer and reader can collectively engage in an ethically-grounded world-making project within our era of competing narratives and digital overload.

"Project Twitter Literature: Scraping, Analyzing, & Archiving Twitter Data in Literary Research." DH2020. Virtual Event, July 2020.


Project Twitter Literature (TwitLit), seeks to address a growing gap in the literary-historical record by establishing a consistent, rigorous, and ethical method for scraping and cleaning up Twitter data for the use of humanities scholars. In particular, my project explores the growing community of amateur writers who are using Twitter as a means of publication and dissemination for their literary output. There are three parts to my project: the research findings related to the global literary community on Twitter, the tools and resources developed as part of the project and made openly available to other scholars, and partnership with a university library to ensure the long-term preservation of the collected data. Information relating to the data collection process and research findings – including detailed instructions, the Python scripts used to collect Twitter data, and a list of resources – are free and openly accessible on the project’s website ( and GitHub repository ( Other scholars are invited to use these scripts and other resources to collect their own Twitter data. Full talk available on the Humanities Commons website.

"Enhancing Community through Open DH Website Design." Project Collaborator: Rennie Mapp. DH2020. Virtual Event, July 2020. 


Our lightning talk offers solutions to the need for communication about Digital Humanities (DH) projects and undertakings on university campuses, particularly through the development of institutional DH websites. By an “institutional DH website,” we mean a community website, hosted by a given university or institution, that is explicitly devoted to the advancement, support, and promotion of DH work collectively. There is a growing need to understand how we can sustainably create and maintain such sites in a way that meets the diverse needs of DH scholars. More than merely providing a definition of DH and a set of resources for those interested in the field, institutional DH websites can beneficially act as community hubs for DH practitioners by showcasing live projects and encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, an open development process can help scholars and DH staff who face long-standing DH challenges around methodological innovation, data reproducibility, reinvention of the wheel, and the balance of technical and humanistic priorities. In particular, we offer a user-focused development process for DH websites, which emphasizes the identification and enhancement of human networks and communities of practice. At the most basic level, user-focused design starts with a needs assessment of the website’s primary audience and is refined through attention to typical user needs and exemplary uses throughout the project’s lifecycle in order to maintain an active user community. This approach is to be distinguised from the design of institutional DH sites as a means of cataloguing the services or offerings at a specific institution. At the structural level, user-focused design for institutional DH sites foregrounds open access and accessibility by thinking about these concerns throughout the design process (rather than as a last-minute add-on). Presentation available on the Humanities Commons website.

"Virtual Reality & Narrative Storytelling: (Dis)Embodiment in Laurie Anderson & Hsin-Chien Huang's Chalkroom." Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA). Boston U., March 2020.


The Taiwanese digital media artist Hsin-Chien Huang has asserted that “the next wave of influence” for Virtual Reality (VR) will be to “directly influence people’s perceptions of themselves” by virtually displacing individuals and providing them with an opportunity to embody another individual’s perspective. This displacement and recreation of the reader/viewer is at the heart of the narrative-based VR installation, Chalkroom, which was collaboratively created by Huang and Laurie Anderson. Chalkroom employs VR as an immersive storytelling platform, and Anderson has described this work as a “narrative” with “many threads.” She writes: "Chalkroom is a virtual reality work in which the reader flies through an enormous structure made of words, drawings and stories.” More specifically, Chalkroom was designed to represent an experience of the Bardo, which is the liminal state between death and rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism. The Bardo forces an individual to suspend the thoughts and feelings borne of their past life before they assume the trappings of the next. Anderson and Huang’s work similarly encourages the reader/viewer to shed their beliefs and assumptions as they listen to and participate in the creation of new stories. In turn, the reader/viewer’s participation in this storytelling process ultimately “frees” him or her, allowing the reader/viewer to, in Huang’s words, look at him- or herself “through the eyes of another creature or of someone of the opposite sex or of someone with a different cultural background.” Using Anderson and Huang’s Chalkroom as exemplary text, my paper examines how VR technology can be employed as a storytelling platform to create not just a different kind of participatory narrative, but ultimately to create a space of (dis)embodiment that harnesses readers/viewers’ affective responses, enabling them to transcend the network of physical, cultural, and national spaces in which they have dwelt.

"The Ecology of Digital Publishing and Teju Cole's Social Media Fiction." The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. University of Maryland, October 2019.


Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole has creatively employed social media platforms - including Instagram and Twitter - to create a new genre of fiction that harnesses the power of social media to reach a global audience. These stories include “Hafiz,” a fictional short story about witnessing a stranger’s heart attack; “A Piece of the Wall,” a journalistic piece about Cole’s visit to the Arizona-Mexico border; and “Seven Short Stories about Drones,” a series of tweets that draw upon Modernist literature to expose the U.S.’s drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Through his creation and dissemination of these stories via Twitter and other social media platforms, Cole locates the writer’s ethical duty in the use of social media to facilitate global discussions and spread awareness of new ways of thinking about the world. While scholars such as N. Katherine Hayles, Espen Aarseth, and Marie-Laure Ryan have already begun to examine the kinds of technological literature developing on social media, they approach this literature from narrative, material, and aesthetic perspectives. Yet digital spaces are increasingly used as collaborative publishing platforms that are not bound by economic, national, or linguistic boundaries. The global reach of digital and technological advancements is thus defining an alternative structure of globality that is divorced from national and cultural borders, and this alternative structure of globality has profoundly altered the shape of the reading public along socioeconomic and generational lines. Using Teju Cole’s experimental work as exemplar, my paper confronts how digitally-global spaces (such as those created by social media networks) are transforming the ecologies of the publishing market by challenging traditional notions of “authorship,” transgressing national and political boundaries, and creating spaces for literary global activism.

"The Global Networks of Twitter Literature." American Comparative Literature Association. Georgetown University, March 2019.


In Twitter and Tear Gas, Zeynep Tufekci argues that Twitter has enabled networks of protest on a global scale previously unseen. Yet these global networks are not just ones of protest; recently, Twitter has increasingly served an international literary community. To measure the change in the global writing network on Twitter, I scraped Twitter using Python scripts and Twarc (developed by DocNow), for hashtags related to the writing community (such as #fictioncommunity). The data I gathered showed that between 2014 and 2017, there was a 600% increase in the use of Twitter as a space for literary engagement; in 2017 alone, over 600,000 tweets were identified as related to the writing community. This data thus indicates a growing literary culture that is fusing literary and social concerns in a public and visible way. My paper seeks to reexamine the circulation and implications of world literature enabled by Twitter as a literary platform. The global reach of Twitter has been augmented by the robust Twitter translation community; Twitter is thus defining an alternative structure of globality that breaks down national and cultural borders. In turn, this alternative globality has profoundly altered the shape of the reading public along socioeconomic and generational lines. Using both aggregated data and readings of particular tweets, my paper calls for sustained scholarly attention to the use of social media as a force that is redefining the global literary community.

Poster Presentation, "Augmenting the University: Using Augmented Reality to Excavate University Spaces." Project collaborators: Monica Blair, Ankita Chakrabarti, Victoria Clark, Tanner Greene, and Spyros Simotas. DH2018. Mexico City, June 2018.


Using augmented reality (AR) applications, our project, titled UVA Reveal: Augmenting the University, challenges
the surface of our perceptions of objects and places. Our project specifically uses the University of Virginia (UVA),
a large public state university, as its target. UVA is a southern historic campus with an enrollment of 22,000 students; given its history and recent spotlight in the news, UVA’s campus is ripe for the historical inquiry and narrative intervention that our project proposes. In augmenting UVA’s campus, we hope to expose the historical, cultural,
(inter)national, (trans)sexual, and (dis)ability-related “archeology” of objects, places, and events. A full project description is published in: Digital Humanities 2018, Puentes-Bridges: Book of Abstracts. Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (June 2018): 600-601.

"Multimodal Translation: The Ethics of Interpreting W.G. Sebald's Novels." The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers. University of Dallas, October 2017.


With the incorporation of photos in his narrative texts, W.G. Sebald has presented a unique challenge to translators, for his work has fused documentary, memoir and fiction. Sebald himself oversaw the layout of photos within his work, and critics such as Stefanie Harris have emphasized the vital role that these images play by forcing the reader to “ask how [the images] might function with and against the language of the text.” Yet despite this vital role, translators have largely ignored the placement and layout of Sebald’s photos. Scholar Noam M. Elcott has stated: “The nuances of Sebald’s startling layouts (as well as his radical use of languages) virtually have been eliminated in English translation and passed over in silence by critics and scholars.” In other words, because of the inattention that both translators and scholars have paid to images and layout within Sebald’s novels, an integral part of Sebald’s texts has been lost to non-German-reading audiences. I therefore argue that, just as it is incumbent upon the translator to take social, cultural, and political backgrounds into account, so too should translators attend to the modalities of the literary text. Indeed, with the rise of technology and the increasing growth of multimodal literature – literature that incorporates a range of literacies, including linguistic, visual, and topographical – scholars have begun to address the design of such multimodal texts and the ways in which such texts both enable and resist readerly constructions of their storyworlds. Drawing upon these theories of multimodal literature, I use Sebald’s The Emigrants (Die Ausgewanderten) – a novel that exemplifies the difficulties of cross-cultural communication – to argue for modality as both an essential factor in translation and an essential part of translation studies.

"World Wide Writing: Digital Humanities Meets World Literature." Keystone Digital Humanities. University of Pennsylvania, July 2017.


Technology has profoundly changed global networks and literary systems. Indeed, writers have begun using technology as an integral part of their storyworlds, thereby transforming both the role of the writer and the role of the reader/user. The twitter fiction and Instagram narratives created by Teju Cole, for instance, are dependent upon collaboration between author and reader for their creation. Indeed, for his twitter story, “Hafiz,” Cole relied upon 31 of his friends to tweet out parts of the story, which he then retweeted in order to compile the story as a whole. Cole states: “‘Hafiz’ was a small attempt to put a number of people into a collaborative situation, to create a ‘we’ out of a story I might simply have published in the conventional way.” Digital spaces are increasingly used as collaborative publishing platforms that are not bound by economic, national, or linguistic boundaries. The global reach of digital and technological advancements is thus defining an alternative structure of globality that is divorced from national and cultural borders, and this alternative structure of globality has profoundly altered the shape of the reading public along socioeconomic and generational lines. Using Teju Cole’s experimental work as exemplar, my paper focuses on how what I am preliminarily calling “born-digitally-global” literature (to riff off of Kirshenbaum and Walkowitz) necessitates a world-wide audience that is defined not by nation but by particular online or digital communities. In so doing, my paper confronts how changes in technological literature are creating an alternative structure of globality that fundamentally relies upon collaboration.

"Experimenting with Globally-Digital Spaces." The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers. The Catholic University of America, October 2016.


Even as contemporary fiction in English has proliferated with the rise of digital literature and online publishing platforms, so too has the global turn in literary studies resulted in an explosion of Anglophone texts that jostle for well-deserved albeit limited attention within the academy. Indeed, this global turn is attested to by the recent establishment of prizes for international Anglophone writing, including the Man Booker International Prize, inaugurated in 2005, and the Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes, first awarded in 2011. Although the establishment of such prizes suggests that we can select among these works based upon literary merit or aesthetic values, I propose to read the digital and global trends in literary studies against one another: The resulting collection of texts showcases a contemporary Anglophone literature that is aware of itself as a technological production tied to a particular moment in literary history rather than to a particular locality. More specifically, these texts employ a “both-and” approach, relying upon traditional publishing platforms (no matter how international the dissemination) while including new media elements that extend beyond print to reach the burgeoning generation of digital readers. Such works range from Ruth Ozeki’s online “book trailer” for A Tale for the Time Being to Ali Smith’s incorporation of images and “Google poems” in Artful, from David Mitchell’s creation of a live Twitter account for one of his characters in Slade House to Kamila Shamsie’s use of a digital, interactive map to supplement A God in Every Stone. Even as these texts experiment with new technologies and print platforms, so too do they problematize scholarly conceptions of world literature that rely upon a geographically-locatable origin for its production and circulation. Thus, rather than proposing a theory according to which we should read contemporary literature, my paper offers these “globally-digital” Anglophone texts as representative of the experimental and technological problems and trends raised by contemporary literature.

© Copyright 2021 Christian Howard-Sukhil 
All Rights Reserved