People Collection


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



Modern Languages and Cultural Studies

About Me

Welcome to my UofA homepage.

I am a Professor in Digital Humanities and Game Studies and divide my teaching and research activities between the Departments of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, and Humanities Computing. Prior to coming here I held faculty, Faculty management, research, and teaching positions in the UK, at the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Bangor. My main publications include 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). I am Founding Editor of Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, a Review Board member of Game Studiesand an Editorial Board member of Discourse, Context & Media (Elsevier) and Digital Culture & Society (transcript). I am Secretary and Director of the Electronic Literature Organization and have led externally funded research projects on videogames across cultures, reading and analyzing digital fiction, and specialized language corpora. 


My research sits at the multiple intersections between digital media, literary studies and applied linguistics. Recently I've embarked on new interdisciplinary ventures, examining digital fictions from an empirical reader-response and cognitive narratological perspective ("Reading Digital Fiction"); combining digital fiction research with body image psychology; and studying speech accents in videogames using machine learning techniques.

My current research projects include:

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 Digital Fictions (Fall 2016 and Fall 2017)
  • HUCO 530 Project Design and Management (Winter 2017) - in collaboration with Community Service Learning
  • MLCS 795 Grant Writing (Graduate Portfolio) (Fall 2017)
  • C LIT 210 Cyberliterature (Winter 2018)

Courses offered in 2018/19:

  • MLCS 399 Videogames Across Cultures (Fall)
  • MLCS 210 Language(s) of Culture (Winter)
  • HUCO 510 Topics in Digital Theory and Culture: Digital Feminisms (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 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 PhD and Master's projects I have supervised to completion:

  • Dr James Barrett, "Reading Freedom: Techniques for the Control of Reading in Four Works of Digital Literature" (2015)
  • Dr Sonia Fizek, "A Methodological Toolkit for Player Character Research in Offline Role-Playing Games" (2012)
  • Dr Xavier Laurent, "Memory of Intelligent Virtual Agents in a 3D Environment: a Behavioural and Computational Approach" (2014)
  • Dr Lyle Skains, "Practice-led Creative Writing Research into Multimodal Digital Narratives" (2013)
  • Evgeniya Kuznetsova, "Trauma in Games: Narrativizing Denied Agency, Ludonarrative Dissonance and Empathy Play" (2017)