School of Creative Studies and Media

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

Astrid Ensslin
Director of Research, College of Arts and Humanities, and Professor of Digital Culture and Communication
+44 (0)1248 383619
John Philips Hall, Office no.5 (first floor)


Astrid Ensslin joined Bangor University in 2007 after completing her PhD (summa cum laude) on electronic literature (hypertext, hypermedia and canonicity) from Heidelberg University, having previously held British Academy and ESRC-funded research (as well as teaching) positions at the Universities of Leeds and Manchester. Her main interests are in the field of Digital Humanities, in particular digital culture and communication. Her current research revolves around reading digital fiction (AHRC-funded) and literary gaming. Further interests include the language of videogames and gaming; language ideologies in the (new) media and studying learner language using corpus-based discourse analysis. She convenes Bangor University’s Digital Economies Cluster and is Principal Investigator of the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds.

Teaching and Supervision

Prof Ensslin is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and was awarded the First Prize in the University of Leeds Faculty of Arts Teaching Development Prizes in 2004. She teaches in the following areas:


  • UXS-2041 Games and Virtual Environments
  • UXS-3041 Advanced Games
  • UXS-2039/3039 Transmedia Storytelling
  • UXS-3090 Dissertation


  • UXS-4039 Media & Cultural Theory

Current PhD students

  • Isamar Carrillo Masso, 'Positioning Video Games in Corpus-based Discourse Analysis: Towards a Unified Approach to the Study of Computer Games as New Media' (supported by a Bangor University 125th Anniversary Scholarship; submitted)
  • James Barrett, 'Reading Freedom: Techniques for the Control of Reading in Four Works of Digital Literature' (writing up)

Completed PhDs

  • Dr Xavier Laurent, 'Memory of Intelligent Virtual Agents in a 3D Environment: a Behavioural and Computational Approach' (10/01/2014)
  • Dr Lyle Skains, 'Exploring Multimodal Creativity: Writing Stories for the Printed Page and the Digital Screen' (pass without corrections, 07/11/2013)
  • Dr Sonia Fizek, 'A Methodological Toolkit for Player Character Research in Offline Role-Playing Games' (pass with minor corrections, 08/06/2012)

Research interests

Astrid’s research combines language, literature and media studies and spans the disciplines of Digital Humanities, discourse analysis, stylistics, narratology, digital media studies and applied linguistics. For a full list of all my research-related activities, go to Astrid’s personal website.

Recent and ongoing research projects

AHRC-funded large grant project on ‘Reading Digital Fiction’ (approx. £240,000; since January 2014): This project, which is led by Alice Bell (PI, Sheffield Hallam) and Astrid Ensslin (CI), has two core aims. Primarily, it aims to introduce more readers to digital fiction. To achieve that aim, the project team are organising various public events including workshops, exhibitions, and a writing competition to introduce people to this exciting new form of literature. Secondly, as cognitive stylisticians, the researchers are interested in how readers process particular linguistic and multimodal features within digital fiction. The project therefore involves several reader-response studies to collect data from readers in order to understand how digital literary reading works cognitively.

British Council funded UK-US-India Education and Research Initiative grant, ‘Computer Gaming Across Cultures’ (approx. £50,000; since May 2013): This project is a trilateral collaboration between West Virginia University (Prof Sandy Baldwin), Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi (Prof Saugata Bhaduri) and Bangor University (Astrid Ensslin). Its aim is to research massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) as objects and tools of study. MMORPGs offer large-scale collaboration across geographies and cultures. MMORPGs also allow us to problematize such transgeographic and transcultural "environments.” The project is driven by questions such as how we can teach with/about computer games, and what are the appropriate games to use; how we can create a computer game studies methodology and curriculum that is aware of and even focused on cultural differences; and how we can develop models for linking humanities research in computer gaming with other disciplines and sectors in all three countries.

Welsh Crucible funded small grant, ‘Transformative thinking: Using digital fiction as a tool for improving body image’ (approx. £9,000; 2012-1013): This project is an interdisciplinary venture between Dr Sarah Riley (Psychology, Aberystwyth), Prof Astrid Ensslin, Dr Joan Haran (gender studies & literature, Cardiff) and Dr Yi Gong (social geography, Cardiff). The main aim was to find out whether reading digital fiction as part of a ‘transformative reading’ workshop might help young women think more positively about themselves and their bodies. The team are currently expanding the project into the areas of writing, art and cybertherapy.

Literary Gaming: For her monograph, Literary Gaming (MIT Press, 2014), Astrid Ensslin developed a new type of criticism called Functional Ludostylistics. The analytical part of the book showcases close-play studies of literary games and ludic digital literature, and she is currently testing her methodology using further ludoliterary digital media.



Prof Ensslin’s publications fall largely within two areas of Digital Humanities, with various intersections:

  • 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, stylistics and discourse analysis.

The following list includes publications since 2007. A complete list can be accessed here.


Journal editorship:


Articles and chapters in edited volumes

  • Ensslin, Astrid (forthcoming, 2016) ‘Electronic Fictions: Television, the Internet, and the Future of Digital Fiction’, in Paula E. Geyh (ed) The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern American Fiction. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Bell, Alice, Jen Smith & Astrid Ensslin (forthcoming, 2015) ‘Reading Digital Fiction: Two Methodologies for Studying Digital Literary Reading’, Language and Literature.
  • Krummes, Cedric, Sylvia Jaworska & Astrid Ensslin (forthcoming, 2015) ‘Formulaic sequences in native and non-native argumentative writing in German’, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics.
  • Krummes, Cedric and Astrid Ensslin (2014, forthcoming) ‘What’s Hard in German (WHiG) – a British learner corpus of German’, Corpora, 9:2.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2014), ‘Hypertextuality’ and ‘Nonlinear Writing’, in M.-L. Ryan, L. Emerson and B.J. Robertson (eds), The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 258-265 and 360-362.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2014) ‘Toward functional ludo-narrativism: metaludicity, allusive fallacy and illusory agency in The Path‘, in A. Bell, A. Ensslin and H. Rustad (eds) Analyzing Digital Fiction. New York: Routledge.
  • Ensslin, Astrid & Cedric Krummes (2013) ‘Language Acquisition and Electronic Interaction’, in Julia Herschensohn and Martha Young-Scholten (eds) The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: C.U.P.
  • Ensslin, Astrid & Alice Bell (2012) ‘”Click = Kill”: Textual You in Ludic Digital Fiction’, Storyworlds, 4, 49-74.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2012) ‘Computer Gaming’, in Joe Bray, Alison Gibbons and Brian McHale (eds) The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature. London: Routledge, 497-511.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2012) ‘“I Want to Say I May Have Seen My Son Die This Morning”: Unintentional Unreliable Narration in Digital Fiction’. Language and Literature, 21(2), 136-49.
  • Krummes, Cedric & Astrid Ensslin (2012) ‘Formulaic Language and Collocations in German Essays: From Corpus-Driven Data to Corpus-Based Learning Materials’. Language Learning Journal.
  • Ensslin, Astrid & Will Slocombe (2012) ‘Training Humanities Postgraduates in Collaborative and Digital Multimedia‘, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 11(1-2), 140-56.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2011) ‘”What an Un-wiki Way of Doing Things”: Wikipedia’s Multilingual Policy and Metalinguistic Practice’. Journal of Language and Politics, 10(4), 535-61.
  • Bell, Alice & Astrid Ensslin (2011) ‘”I know what it was. You know what it was”: Second Person Narration in Hypertext Fiction’. Narrative, 19(3), 311-29.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2011) ‘From (w)reader to breather: Cybertextual de-intentionalisation in Kate Pullinger et al.’s Breathing Wall’, in Ruth Page & Bronwen Thomas (eds) New Narratives: Stories and Storytelling in the Digital Age. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 138-52.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2011) ‘Recallin’ Fagin: Linguistic Accents, Intertextuality and Othering in Narrative Offline and Online Video Games’, in Garry Crawford, Victoria Gosling and Ben Light (eds) Online Gaming in Context: The Social and Cultural Significance of Online Games. London: Routledge, 224-35.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2011) ‘Do avatars dream of electric steak? Video games and the gendered semiotics of food‘. Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, 3(1), 37-50.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2011) ‘Avatar Needs and the Remediation of Architecture in Second Life‘, in Astrid Ensslin and Eben Muse (eds) Creating Second Lives: Community, Identity and Spatiality as Constructions of the Virtual. New York: Routledge, 169-189.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2011) ‘Zur Rolle des Englischen als Wissenschaftssprache im britischen Pressediskurs’, in Antonie Hornung (ed) Lingue di cultura in pericolo – Bedrohte Wissenschaftssprachen. L’italiano e il tedesco di fronte alla sfida dell’internazionalizzazione – Deutsch und Italienisch vor den Herausforderungen der Internationalisierung. Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 191-212.
  • Bell, Alice, Astrid Ensslin, Dave Ciccoricco, Jess Laccetti, Jessica Pressman & Hans Rustad (2010) ‘A Screed for Digital Fiction‘. The Electronic Book Review.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2010) ‘Black and white: Language ideologies in computer game discourse’, in Sally Johnson & Tommaso Milani (eds) Language Ideologies and Media Discourse: Texts, Practices, Policies. London: Continuum, 205-222.
  • Ensslin, Astrid & James Pope (2010) ‘Digital literature in Creative and Media Studies’, in Roberto Simanowski, Peter Gendolla, and Joergen Schaefer (eds) Reading Moving Letters: Digital Literature in Research and Teaching. Bielefeld: transcript, 311-28.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2010) ‘From revisi(tati)on to retro-intentionalisation: Hermeneutics, multimodality and corporeality in hypertext, hypermedia and cybertext’, in Roberto Simanowski, Peter Gendolla, and Joergen Schaefer (eds) Reading Moving Letters: Digital Literature in Research and Teaching. Bielefeld: transcript, 145-162.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2009) ‘Respiratory narrative: Multimodality and cybernetic corporeality in “physio-cybertext”’, in Ruth Page (ed) New Perspectives on Narrative and Multimodality, pp. 155-65. London: Routledge.
  • Durrell, Martin, Astrid Ensslin & Paul Bennett (2009) ‘Zeitungen und Sprachausgleich im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert’. Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie, 127, 263-79. (Sonderheft, Der Schreiber als Dolmetsch: Sprachliche Umsetzungstechniken beim binnensprachlichen Texttransfer in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit).
  • Ensslin, Astrid & Sally Johnson (2009) ‘Sprache und Identität in der englischen Nachrichtenpresse: eine korpuslinguistische Analyse’, in Oliver Stenschke & Sigurd Wichter (eds) Wissenstransfer und Diskurs, pp. 347-62. Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2008) ‘Möglichkeiten und Perspektiven korpusbasierter Fachtextanalyse’, in Dorothee Heller (ed) Formulierungsmuster in deutscher und italienischer Fachkommunikation. Intra- und interlinguale Perspektiven. Bern: Peter Lang, 31-49.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2008) ‘”Im Unterhause abscheulich groß Getöse”: Representations of 18th century British parliamentary democracy in early modern German newspaper discourse and their treatment of borrowings from English’, in Falco Pfalzgraf & Felicity Rash (eds) Jahrbuch für Internationale Germanistik. Reihe A: Kongressberichte. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang, 73-96.
  • Durrell, Martin, Astrid Ensslin & Paul Bennett (2008) ‘Zur Standardisierung der Adjektivflexion im Deutschen im 18. Jahrhundert’, in Waldemar Czachur & Marta Czyżewska (eds) Vom Wort zum Text. Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Kultur. Festschrift für Professor Józef Wiktorowicz zum 65. Geburtstag. Warszawa: Instytut Germanistyki Uniwersitetu Warszawskiego, 259-267.
  • Ensslin, Astrid & Alice Bell (2007) ‘New perspectives on digital literature: Criticism and analysis’. dichtung digital, 37. Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University, available at
  • Durrell, Martin, Astrid Ensslin & Paul Bennett (2007) ‘GerManC: A historical corpus of German 1650-1800’. Sprache und Datenverarbeitung, 31(1), 71-80.
  • Johnson, Sally & Astrid Ensslin (2007) ‘“But her language skills shifted the family dynamics dramatically.” Language, gender and the construction of publics in two British newspapers’. Gender and Language, 1(2), 229-54.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2007) ‘Canonizing hypertext: Explorations and constructions’, in Paul Georg Meyer (ed) English and American Studies in German 2006: Summaries of Theses and Monographs. A Supplement to Anglia. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 33-6.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2007) ‘Breathalyzing physio-cybertext’, in HYPERTEXT 2007, Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia, September 10-12, Manchester, UK. [CD-ROM]. Alpha, NJ: Sheridan Printing.
  • Johnson, Sally & Astrid Ensslin (2007) ‘Language in the media: Theory and practice’, in ibid. (eds) Language in the Media: Representations, Identities, Ideologies. London: Continuum, 3-24.
  • Ensslin, Astrid (2007) ‘Of chords, machines and bumble-bees: The metalinguistics of hyperpoetry’, in Sally Johnson & Astrid Ensslin (eds) Language in the Media: Representations, Identities, Ideologies. London: Continuum, 250-68.

Invited talks/keynotes

(2014) ‘Studying the Meanings of Digital Fiction: Ludostylistics and Psychonarratology’, keynote at IALS 2014 (International Association of Literary Semantics) conference, 4 July 2014.

(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: Califia, Marble 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. 

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