Introduction: Vibrant Materialities Across Media, Literature, and Theory


  • Monique Tschofen
  • Lai-Tze Fan



This special issue of *Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies* takes materiality as the critical touchstone for a new comparative literary and media studies. We ask: How can an examination of the modes of inscription across media, platforms, and interfaces draw greater attention to what is often ignored in critical conversations about texts, objects, and bodies; how can such an investigation attend to the vitality of their materiality? Studies of materiality may occur of/in: images, texts, subjects, and objects; philosophical approaches to materiality and interrelationality; cultural considerations of user relationships to media materiality; mediums of scholarship, including critical applications in open-source publishing; critical making and research-creation; and experiences, interactions, and representations of digital spaces. Here, we take materiality to include actants, actors, inscriptions, assemblages, interfaces, objects, bodies, things and the things we think with, as well as their agencies and provocations. The papers reconsider the entanglements between inscription and representation and between inscription and world through theoretical frameworks that show that “matter matters,” using approaches that include code studies, critical making, digital humanities, ecocriticism, feminism, Marxism, media archaeology, new materialism, and phenomenology.

Author Biographies

Monique Tschofen

Monique Tschofen is Associate Professor of English at Toronto Metropolitan University, a scholar of new media, visual culture, research creation, and a digital storyteller, working with poetry, sound art, experimental film, and AI generation. Her publications include textbooks on film and literature, literature and multimedia, and literary hypertext, as well as edited collections of essays on Canadian writers and filmmaker Atom Egoyan. Her current research theorizes the relationship between art and philosophy, asking about the conditions under which an artwork can be an “act of theory” through studies of Gertrude Stein, digital installation art, experimental cinema, and ekphrastic poetry.

Lai-Tze Fan

Lai-Tze Fan is the Canada Research Chair of Technology and Social Change, and an Assistant Professor of Sociology & Legal Studies and English Literature at the University of Waterloo, Canada. She is Professor II at the Center for Digital Narrative in the University of Bergen, Norway, and the Founder and Director of the U&AI Lab at Waterloo, which uses artistic methods for enhanced EDI outcomes in AI design. Fan’s work focuses on systemic inequities in technological design and labour, digital storytelling, and media theory and infrastructure. She serves as an Editor of electronic book review and the digital review.


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How to Cite

Tschofen, M., & Fan, L.-T. (2023). Introduction: Vibrant Materialities Across Media, Literature, and Theory. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 14(2), 5–17.