Digital Narratives Around the World is a research cluster at the University of Alberta, connecting scholars and scientists from the Faculties of Arts, Computing Science, Extension, as well as various external researchers. Its inaugural event, a one-day symposium, was funded by the Kule Institute for Advanced Studies and organized by Prof. Astrid Ensslin.
The growing global presence of digital platforms, online connectivity and social media has come to transform and diversify the ways in which texts and narratives are accessed, engaged with, and created. Bypassing traditional publishing models, both established and amateur writers and developers now have access to vast collections of tools and software allowing them to easily create and share stories and story worlds that tackle innovative, and sometimes difficult, subject matters. Similarly, most works of traditional literature are now simultaneously being published on electronic platforms or adapted for them, which is directly impacting their forms and patterns of interaction. The notion of interactivity present in many digital narratives further blurs the once rigid boundaries between producers and users; these ergodic works challenge the very notion of narrative interpretation. The democratization of social online platforms facilitating exchanges between users also direct the gaze of researchers towards quantitative research on digital narratives, drawing both on social studies and computer science methodologies to examine these publics and data exchange.
The Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta has been involved in research at multiple intersections between digital narrativity and cultural studies, collaborating on interdisciplinary research projects both across the University, and with institutions from around the world on topics such as reading and analyzing digital fiction, regional and cross-cultural game studies, and AI in interactive digital narrative. Research into digital narratives and their pro-sumers is conducted across a range of departments and faculties, and student interest in this subject area is also growing.
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