School of Creative Studies and Media

Profile of Professor Astrid Ensslin BA/MA  PhD  PGCLTHE  FHEA  FRSA

Astrid Ensslin
+44 (0)1248 383619
John Philips Hall, Office no.5 (first floor)

My main research interests are in the field of Digital Humanities, in particular digital culture and communication. My current research revolves around electronic literature (esp. digital fiction) and videogames (esp. literary gaming), but I've also looked into virtual worlds, language ideologies in the (new) media and specialised language corpora. I have a BA/MA (Distinction) from Tuebingen University (2002), a Postgraduate Teaching Certificate from Leeds University and a PhD (s.c.l.) from Heidelberg University (2006). I have previously held teaching and research positions at the Universities of Leeds and Manchester. In 2004, I was awarded the First Prize in the Leeds Faculty of Arts Teaching Development Prizes. I convene Bangor University's Digital Economies Cluster. In 2012, I was appointed Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce)and elected Committee Member and International Chapter Officer for the Digital Games Research Association.

Currently I am Director of Research in the College of Arts and Humanities.

I am founding editor of the MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities and Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worldsand currently Investigator of three externally funded projects:
  • "Reading Digital Fiction", funded by the ARHC (approx. £240k; collaboration with Sheffield Hallam and various non-academic organisations)
  • "Computer Gaming Across Cultures", funded by the British Council's UK-US-India Education and Research Initiative (approx. £50k; collaboration with the University of West Virginia and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)
  • "Transformative thinking: Using digital fiction as a tool for improving body image", funded by the Welsh Crucible (approx. £9k; collaboration with Aberystwyth and Cardiff)
Courses taught since 2007:
  • UXS-1041 Introduction to New Media
  • UXS-1055 IT and Digital Communication
  • UXS-1036 Publishing - Past and Present
  • UXS-1060 Saint, Genius, Star
  • UXS-2041 Games and Virtual Environments
  • UXS-2037 Marketing Creativity
  • UXS-2039/3039 Transmedia Storytelling
  • UXS-3041 Advanced Games
  • UXS-3090 Dissertation


  • UXS-4045 Media & Cultural Theory
  • UXS-4044 Modes of Critical and Creative Research

Research student supervision:
Currently supervising:

  • Isamar Carrillo Masso, 'Positioning Video Games in Corpus-based Discourse Analysis: Towards a Unified Approach to the Study of Computer Games as New Media'
  • James Barrett, 'Reading Freedom: Techniques for the Control of Reading in Four Works of Digital Literature'

Successfully completed:

  • Dr Lyle Skains, 'Exploring Multimodal Creativity: Writing Stories for the Printed Page and the Digital Screen' (pass without corrections, 07/11/2013)
  • Dr Xavier Laurent, 'Memory of Intelligent Virtual Agents in a 3D Environment: a Behavioural and Computational Approach'
  • Dr Sonia Fizek, 'A Methodological Toolkit for Player Character Research in Offline Role-Playing Games' (pass with minor corrections, 08/06/2012)

My publications fall largely within two areas of Digital Humanities:

  • Digital media and communication, especially digital fiction and narratology, videogames and virtual worlds, discourse analysis, semiotics and (meta-)communication
  • Applied Linguistics (English and German), particularly specialised corpora and discourse analysis.  

Reviews and Peer-reviewing:

  • I have published reviews/entries in Journal of Sociolinguistics, Discourse Studies, Discourse and Communication and The Electronic Literature Directory.
  • I have peer-reviewed for various funding bodies, book publishers and international journals:
    • the AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), and the Fond National de la Recherche Luxembourg;
    • Oxford University Press, Routledge, Sage, Bloomsbury Publishing and Pearson Longman;
    • and the International Journal of Applied LinguisticsCritical Discourse Studies, Contemporary Literature, Journal of Global Analysis, Transformative Works and Cultures, and Corpora.

Conference organisation:

Grants and awards:

  • AHRC Research Grant, 'Reading Digital Fiction' (with Alice Bell, Sheffield Hallam; 2014-16): £243,000
  • British Council UKIERI UK-US-India Trilateral Research in Partnership Grant, 'Computer Gaming across Cultures' (with Sandy Baldwin, University of West Virginia, and Saugata Bhaduri, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi; 2013-15): £49,500
  • Welsh Crucible 2012 Grant, 'Transformative thinking: Using digital fiction as a tool for improving body image' (with Sarah Riley, Aberystwyth, Yi Gong and Joan Haran, Cardiff; 2012-13): £8,800
  • Welsh Crucible Researcher 2012 (funded by the St David's Day Group of Universities and HEFCW)
  • Bangor University 125th Anniversary Scholarship for PhD project, 'Positioning Video Games in Corpus-based Discourse Analysis', 2009-12
  • DFG (German Research Council) / AHRC Research Grant: 'What's Hard in German?' (with Anke Lüdeling, Humboldt University Berlin, 2009-12): £250,000
  • MeCCSA Poster Prize 2009 (Bradford), ‘"What an Un-wiki Way of Doing Things": Wikipedia’s Multilingual Policy and Metalinguistic Practice’: £100
  • AHRC Collaborative Research Training: 'Digital and Collaborative Multimedia in the Humanities' (with Will Slocombe, Aberystwyth University, 2008-10) - a.k.a. 'CEDAR': £8,400
  • Leverhulme Trust: 'Digital Fiction International Network' (with Alice Bell, Sheffield Hallam University, 2009): £15,500
  • British Academy Overseas Conference Grant for AILA World Congress, Essen (2008)

Invited presentations / plenaries / keynotes / workshops:

  • (2012) 'The Language of Gaming: From Research to Teaching', teachers' workshop given at the British Film Institute's Media Conference 2012, London, 4 July 2012.
  • (2012) 'Literary Gaming: Between ludic digital literature and literary computer games', keynote given at CoDE 2012 conference, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 28 March 2012.
  • (2012) 'Computer Gaming and the Art of Narrative', Cambridge Screen Media Group, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, 20 February 2012.
  • (2011) '"Staging Illusion": Metalepsis as a Transmedia Phenomenon', plenary talk at Staging Illusion conference, University of Sussex, 8-9 December 2011.
  • (2011) 'Literary Gaming as Metaludic Détournement', invited panellist at ASAP/3, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, 27-30 October 2011.
  • (2011) 'Playing with Rather than by the Rules: Metaludicity, Allusive Fallacy and Illusory Agency in The Path', 'Literature between Media' symposium, Hedmark University College, Norway, 6 October 2011.
  • (2011) 'Playing with Rather than by the Rules: Between Ludic Digital Literature and Literary Computer Games', School of English seminar series, University of Heidelberg, 13 January 2011, and Computer Science seminar series, Bangor University, 16 November 2011.
  • (2010) 'Video Games/-ing, Digital Fiction and Virtual Worlds Research', BCS Animation and Games Development Specialist Group, Technium CAST, Bangor, 28th July 2010.
  • (2010) 'Metalanguage and the Ideology of Creationist Capitalism in Second Life', Language Development and Cognition Colloquium, Bangor, 11th February 2010.
  • (2009) 'New Media Writing: Towards Second Generation Criticism', keynote given at MeCCSA PGN Conference, Bangor, 9th July 2009.
  • (2009) 'Digital Literature as a Tool for (Foreign) Language Learning: Collaboration, Creativity, Transliteracy', Lancaster Literacy Discussion Group, Digital Methodologies series, Lancaster, 16th June 2009.
  • (2008) ‘Searching for Cultural Memory in Cyberspace: CalifiaMarble Springs and the Mnemonics of Hypertext’, Intermediality Research Cluster Workshop, Bangor, 23 February 2008.
  • (2007) ‘Möglichkeiten und Perspektiven korpusbasierter Fachtextanalyse’, Facetten wissenschaftlicher Textproduktion und Methoden ihrer Analyse Seminar, Bergamo (I), 2-3 November 2007.
  • (with M. Durrell and P. Bennett, 2006) ‘Towards a methodology for constructing and annotating historical corpora: Tackling structural and lexical variability in Early Modern German newspaper texts’, Digital Historical Corpora Conference, Dagstuhl (D), 3-8 December 2006 .
  • (2005) ‘Literarischer Hypertext - literaturwissenschaftliche und linguistische Dimensionen’, University of Göttingen, 6 January 2005.
  • (2003) ‘Literary Hypertext in the EFL Literature Classroom, Or Literary Competence Revisited’, University of Heidelberg, 18 December 2003.

External examiner:

  • PhD, Winchester University (2013)
  • PhD, Umeå University, Sweden (2012)
  • PhD, Aberystwyth University (2010-11)
  • PhD, Queen Mary, University of London (2009-11)

Professional associations:

  • International Chapter Coordinator of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA), 2012-15
  • Committee Member and Conference Coordinator of the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA), 2010-11
  • Member of: MeCCSA, ASAP, BAAL, ELO, ISSN, PALA, DiGRA and WiGS

Further esteem indicators:

  • Invited advisory board member, ESF Forward Look on ‘Media Studies: new media and new literacies’, Cyprus 17-18 May 2012.
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
  • Advisory Board Member of the Video Game Research Centre at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin (PL)


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