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Durham University

Research & business

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Dr Alistair Brown

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PDRA in the Business School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 40471
Room number: A124
Teaching Fellow in the Department of English Studies
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42535
Room number: Room A73, Elvet Riverside

Contact Dr Alistair Brown (email at


I am currently Teaching Fellow within the Department of English Studies, My research and scholarship interests cover the digital humanities, video game studies, digital pedagogy and learning technology, creativity, and playful learning.

If you're interested in what I do, please email or chat with me on Twitter as @alibrown18.


I teach on various modules within English Studies at Durham, such as Literary Theory, American Fiction and Literature of the Modern Period.

I am currently working on various scholarship projects such as enhancing learning communities, Digital Storytelling for English students, the use of playful learning within the curriculum, and social media ethics in teaching and learning.

Alongside Durham, I teach as an Associate Lecturer in Arts at the Open University, where I have innovated new methods for distance learning such as video telepresence in online teaching and the application of social media marketing techniques to online forums.

I have previously taught Theory at the University of Sunderland, and worked as a module developer and textbook author on Modernism, American Fiction, and Contemporary Fiction at Singapore University of Social Sciences.


I research broadly in the fields of contemporary fiction, science fiction, and the digital humanities. More recently I have been (through Creative Fuse North East) exploring the intersection between digital skills and creativity, and the role of universities in the creative industries. I have recent publications in this area, as well as in the narratology of video games. I am preparing a monograph on Demons of the Digital Age: Artificial Intelligence and Simulation in Literature, Cinema and Video Games and am drafting a second on Reading Games: Video Games and the Limits of Literature.

From November 2017 to March 2019 I was post-doctoral research associate on the project Creative Fuse North East, which seeks to enhance the innovative work of creative, digital and IT businesses by engaging them with universities. I maintain an interest in creativity, the crossover of skills between the arts and humanities and digital, and cultural metrics; this research informs current scholarship projects on equipping English graduates with the digital skills required by the creative industries.

Impact and Engagement

Alongside teaching within the Department I edit and maintain the award-winning research and dissemination blog, Research in English At Durham (READ), and associated social media feeds; this has one of the widest reaches of any English department on social media in the UK.

I have been involved in digital projects in the cultural and education sector since 2003. Most recently I have built websites including Records of Early English Drama North East and the James Shirley Project, developing custom databases and methods for the visualisation of textual and archival data. I have competencies in HTML, CSS, PHP/SQL, Javascript/Ajax. I also serve as technical advisor to the Postgraduate English and Kaleidoscope journals, having led their transition to Open Journal Systems publishing.



Editor, Research in English At Durham blog , 2013-present.
Editor, Institute of Advanced Study Annual Report 2009-2010 (2011).
Index Editor, T.S. Eliot in Context, ed. Jason Harding (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011).
Editor, Institute of Advanced Study Annual Report 2008-2009 (2010).
Editor, Kaleidoscope 2.1 (2008) <>.
Technical Editor, Kaleidoscope 1.1 (2007) <>.

Book Chapters

“Is Posthuman Incest Possible? Science Fiction and the Futures of the Body,” Incest in Contemporary Literature, ed. Emma Miller and Miles Leeson (Manchester: Manchester UP, 2018).
“Renaissance Demons and Posthuman Cyborgs: Ambroise Paré’s On Monsters and Marvels and Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto,’” Unnatural Reproductions and Monstrosity: The Birth of the Monster in Literature, Film, and Media, ed. Brandy Schillace and Andrea Wood (London: Cambria 2014).
“The Sense of an Ending: The Computer Game Fallout 3 as a Serial Fiction,” Serialization in Popular Culture, ed. Thijs van den Berg and Rob Allen (London: Routledge, 2014).
“E-Volutionary Fictions: The Darwinian Algorithm in Literature and Computer Games,” The Evolution of Literature in European Cultures, ed. Nicolas Saul and Simon James (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011).

Refereed Journal Articles

“Communication Technology and Narrative: Letters, Instant Messaging, and Mobile Phones in Three Romantic Novels,” Poetics Today 36.1-2 (2015) <>.
“Grand Theft Auto as a Cognitive Map of the Postmodern Condition,” Writing Technologies 4 (2012) <>.
“Rereading Posthumanism in The War of the Worlds and Independence Day,” E-Sharp 12 (2008) <>.
“Uniting the Two Cultures of Body and Mind in A.S. Byatt’s A Whistling Woman,” Journal of Literature and Science 1.1 (2008) <>.

Non-Refereed Articles in Edited Journals

“Notes Towards a Video Game Aesthetics,” Art Pulse 20.6 (2014)
“Are Video Games Postmodern,” Alluvium (2013) <>
“Ulysses as a Role Playing Game,” Alluvium (2012) <>.
“Driving Tutorials,” Postgraduate English 13 (2006) <>.


Topics in Modernism (Singapore: SIM University, 2013).

Edited Blog Posts

"Creative cities and the future of higher education", WonkHE (2019) <>
“Using Web Automation Tools to Collate Impact Evidence from Social Media,” London School of Economics Impact Blog (2014) <>.
“Martians, Modernism and Martin Amis,” Interesting Literature (2013) <>
“Are Video Games Literature?” Interesting Literature (2013) <>
“Proving Dissemination is Only One Half of Your Impact Story: Twitter Provides Proof of Real-Time Engagement with the Public,” London School of Economics Impact Blog (2012) <>.
“The Daily Dose” [interview with Brandy Schillace], Fiction Reboot (2012)
“Writing Around the Subject: On the Benefits of Blogging,” GRADBritain 4 (2008) <>.

Review Essays

“Pitchforks at the Library Doors? Literary Studies in the Digital Age,” Kaleidoscope 2.1 (2008) <>.


The Freudian Robot, by Lydia H. Liu, British Society for Literature and Science <>
A Genealogy of Cyborgothic: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Age of Posthumanism, by Dongshin Yi, British Society for Literature and Science <>
Anti-Consumerism in the West, by Kim Humphery, Green World 69 (2010)
Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella Meadows, Green World 66 (2010) <>.
Charles Darwin, by Tim Berra, Kaleidoscope 3.2 (2010) <>.
The Case of the Imaginary Detective, by Karen Joy Fowler, The Critical Flame 2.1 (2009) <>.
Seasick, by Alanna Mitchell, Green World 64 (2009) <>.
Different Engines: How Fiction Drives Science and Science Drives Fiction, by Mark Brake and Neil Hook, British Society for Literature and Science <>.
Learning to Teach in Higher Education by Paul Ramsden and A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education ed. Heather Fry et al. Postgraduate English 16 (2007) <>.

Exhibition Curation

Robot!, co-curated with Simon James and Julie Biddecombe-Brown, Durham University Palace Green Library, November 2013-April 2014.

Conference Organisation

Fifty Years of Sexism: What Next?, co-organised with Emma Miller, Lauren Owen and Elizabeth Drialo, Durham University, 7 – 8 March 2015.
Literary Dolls: The Female Textual Body from the 19th Century to Now, co-organised with Emma Miller and Rebecca White, Durham University, 8 March 2014.

Conference Papers and Panels

“Gaming and Ageing,” Video Games as Objects of Academic Study, seminar, Durham University, 18 February 2015.
“Transgressing the Uncanny Valley: Cyborg Sex and Android Incest,” Literary Criticism and the Fantastic, public lecture day, Durham University, 14 March 2014.
“Playing Gender: A Ludological Perspective on Tomb Raider,” Literary Dolls: The Female Textual Body from the 19th Century to Now, conference, Durham University, 8 March 2014.
“Video Games and Ageing,” Narrating Time, seminar, Durham University, 20 March 2014.
“How Communication Technology Structures Fiction: On Letters and Instant Messaging,” Contemporary Fiction, seminar series, University of London, 20 November 2014.
“About the Research in English At Durham Blog,” Panel on Harnessing New and Old Media, Public Engagement for Postgraduates in the Arts and Humanities workshop, Durham University, 19 June 2013.
“No Sense of an Ending: Frank Kermode and Computer Game Narratives,” British Society for Literature and Science, University of Cambridge, 9 April 2011.
“Jameson and the Gangster: Grand Theft Auto as a Cognitive Map of the Postmodern Condition,” British Society for Literature and Science, Northumbria University, 9 April 2010.
“The Demonic Posthuman: Cybernetics, Possession and Postmodernism,” British Society for Literature and Science, Reading University, 29 April 2009.
“The Astronaut’s Transistorised Fist: Rereading the Ideological Space of 1969,” Stars: The Sciences and the Arts Postgraduate Conference, Durham University, 4 July 2008.
“The E-Volutionary Novel: Darwinian Digital Narratives,” Evolution of Literatures in European Cultures, Durham University, 6 April 2008.
“Man Has Come Back to His Own: Victorian Degeneration and Posthuman Enlightenment in War of the Worlds and Independence Day,” British Society for Literature and Science, Keele University, 27 March 2008.
“Neuroscience and the Future of Literary Criticism,” Ustinov College/Institute of Advanced Study Seminar, Durham University, 8 March 2008.
“The Economic Value of an English PhD,” Department of English Postgraduate Discussion Group, Durham University, 24 October 2007.
“Body Recognising Mind: Demonic and Embodied Knowledge in A.S. Byatt’s A Whistling Woman,” Pathologies, University of Glamorgan, 21 August 2007.
“From Caliban to the Raptor: Shakespeare, Browning, Spielberg and the Evolution of Otherness,” Darwin Among the Poets Symposium, Durham University, 4 July 2007.
“Cybernetic Demons,” Research Postgraduates Poster Competition, Durham University, 22 February 2007.
“Maxwell’s Demon: A Case Study in Models and Metaphors Across the Two Cultures,” Interactions Graduate Conference, University of Glasgow, 29 October 2006.
“Literary Theory: What Is It and Why Do We Need It: A Panel with Terry Eagleton,” Durham University, 25 October 2006.

Research Interests

  • Cyberfiction
  • Digital humanities
  • Narratology
  • Postmodernism
  • Video game narratives

Indicators of Esteem

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Brown, Alistair (2014). What Makes a Videogame Great? Problems of Videogame Aesthetics. Art Pulse 20(6): 46-49.

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