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Staff photo Van Leavenworth

Van Leavenworth

I am an Associate Professor in English literature at the Department of Language Studies. I teach courses in literature, cultural studies, academic writing and language proficiency at all levels.

Works at

Associate professor at Department of Language Studies Units: English
A, Humanisthuset, korridor HE2 Umeå universitet, 901 87 Umeå

Research Interests
My research interests include:
-how texts imagine and explore relationships between humans and non-humans, in part as a means of interrogating the limits of traditional human-centered modes of viewing the world
-the processes involved in reading, fan response or other uses of fiction (examined in particular via the cognitive concept of Theory of Mind and the individual or collective creation of storyworlds)
-the conventions, tendencies and 'rules' of genre fictions (e.g. Gothic and science fiction), including how different media forms adapt such rules
-the narrative poetics of identity formation, including socially imposed identities
-how meaning is created when texts reference other texts through allusion, adaptation, etc.

Previous Research
My previous research has focused on several of these main interests. I investigate audience strategies and narrative patterns in different genres and media such as horror roleplaying games in "Playing with the Mythos" (2007). I took a similar approach in my doctoral dissertation, The Gothic in Contemporary Interactive Fictions (2010), in which I examine how the poetics of literary Gothic conventions, tropes and elements are specifically reinvented in four contemporary interactive fictions. The wholly text-based works are Nevermore (2000) by Nate Cull, Anchorhead (1998) by Michael S. Gentry, Madam Spider's Web (2006) by Sara Dee and Slouching Towards Bedlam (2003) by Star C. Foster and Daniel Ravipinto. As several of these works are highly intertextual I also discuss fiction written by Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft and Bram Stoker. Central topics include the intersection of postmodernism and the Gothic, the digital poetics of Gothic conventions and contemporary conceptions of subjectivity. I continue to explore aspects of player experience, character subjectivity and digital poetics in Slouching from a non-Gothic perspective in "Epistemological Rupture and the Gothic Sublime in Slouching Towards Bedlam" (2012).

In two articles on the science fiction television series Battlestar Galactica (broadcast 2003-2009), I further explore questions of character subjectivity. In one article I specifically investigate these via aspects of narrative logic ("Utopia, Relationality and Ecology: Resurrecting the Natural in Battlestar Galactica" 2012) and in another article I consider the social, gendered construction of monstosity ("Making Starbuck Monstrous: The Poetics of Othering in Battlestar Galactica" 2014).

In my chapter in the volume Storyworlds Across Media, "The Developing Storyworld of H. P. Lovecraft" (2014), I argue that common thematic elements in Lovecraft's fiction guide audience expectations of and influence desire for storyworld instantiations, so that Lovecraft's name takes on 'cultural capital' in the Bourdieuan sense.

In "Fragmented Fiction: Storyworld Construction and the Quest for Meaning in Justin Cronin's The Passage" (2017), Maria Lindgren Leavenworth and I examine how literal and figurative forms of fragmentation that develop in the postapocalyptic narrative affect the reader's storyworld construction.

Fafnir: Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research, Oulu: The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research 2017, Vol. 4, (2) : 22-33
Lindgren Leavenworth, Maria; Leavenworth, Van
Journal of Popular Culture, Wiley-Blackwell 2014, Vol. 47, (4) : 688-708
Leavenworth, Van
Storyworlds across Media : Toward a Media-Conscious Narratology, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 2014 : 332-350
Leavenworth, Van
Neo-Victorian Gothic: Horror, Violence and Degeneration in the Re-Imagined Nineteenth Century, Amsterdam: Rodopi 2012 : 253-278
Leavenworth, Van
Extrapolation, Liverpool University Press 2012, Vol. 53, (1) : 61-81
Leavenworth, Van
Umeå Studies in Language and Literature, 11
Leavenworth, Van
Electronic Book Review
Leavenworth, Van

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