My primary areas of research include technology, gender and sexuality, video games and digital culture, digital humanities, and twentieth century and contemporary American literature. My methodologies are purposefully interdisciplinary drawing on cultural studies, queer of color theory, feminist theory, and technocultural studies. Although my background and training are in English and literature, my research includes fiction, media (both new and old), and popular culture to explore the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and technology.
My current project is revising my dissertation entitled Technoqueer: Re/con/figuring Posthuman Narratives. Given the popular narratives of technologies like the Internet, bionics, and gamification as liberating humanity from the prison of the “meat,” the book project deploys a comparative study of literature, video games, and body modification technologies in order to articulate alternative readings of technologically-mediated race, gender, and sexuality foreclosed or overlooked by contemporary posthumanism. Drawing on queer of color critique, my project addresses the intersections of queer and technology to intervene in narratives of posthumanism, particularly speculative fiction and digital games.
Given technoculture’s appropriation of queerness as yet another identity category available for self-fashioning and the near invisibility of technology in queer theory, I theorize the “technoqueer” as a way to understand the co-constitutive relation of technology to sexuality, gender, race, and ability. My project looks at cyberspace and bodyhacking technologies—real or imagined—to show how technology is never neutral or simply a tool building on the pioneering work of Donna Haraway’s cyborg, Allucquere Roseanne Stone definition of the technosocial subject, Lisa Nakamura’s cybertype and digital racial formation, and N. Katherine Hayles on the posthuman. The technoqueer invites a redefinition of what it means to be (post)human. Looking to figures like Alan Turing or the Bionic Woman and by looking at texts like William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Irrational Games’s BioShock, I demonstrate the ways technology is imbricated with race, gender, and sexuality and how liberation from one set of embodiments or identities often means the stabilization or policing of others. The technoqueer, I argue then, reveals and challenges the structures of the near ubiquity of technological mediation and penetration into twenty-first century life—what I call the technonormative matrix—in order to theorize alternative futurities and embrace technoqueer worldmaking, what José Estaban Muñoz’s names “productive utopias.”
My new work centers on queerness and video games and the provocation of whether or not it is possible to design a queer game in a binary-based medium. The second book-length project is tentatively titled Queerness Can(not) Be Designed: Video Games and the Trouble with Protocol and considers the affordances and limitations the digital medium—from platform to programming to narrative to play—which is constrained by the tyranny of the binary, the Boolean, and what Alexander Galloway defines as the “proscription for structure” or protocol. Given this regulation of gamespace, the project thinks about ways to play games and make games that challenge or disrupt the technonormativity of the digital to allow for queer possibilities.
Finally, my research directly informs my pedagogy and academic service. Many of my courses, presentations, and workshops are interested in thinking about ways to teach with digital humanities methodologies, social networking media, virtual worlds, and games. It is important for students and for fellow teachers and scholars to be mindful of the ways digital media, communication technology, and computers are used, naturalized, and even take for granted. Specifically, I believe in challenging the widely-accepted notion of “digital natives,” addressing race, gender, sexuality, and other difference in digital cultures, thinking about low tech, high tech, and tech-appropriate integration, and about developing a teaching philosophy of technology.