Kathryn (Katie) Conrad
- Interim Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction
- Faculty Fellow for Humanities Advancement, CLAS
Whether I am examining literary texts, photography, or technology, I find myself returning to and reaffirming the basic premise that discourse matters: how we represent the world and how we engage with others discursively has a material effect on the world around us.
A large segment of my work has focused on the changing political landscape in Northern Ireland, especially the relationship between the public sphere and public space. Some of my work, for instance, has shown the ways in which marginalized communities in Northern Ireland reclaim and retool the idea of the ‘public’—both public politics and public spaces—provocatively and productively. In the context of examining the Northern Irish political environment, my interest in visual culture and technology drew me to the popular photojournalistic and tourist practice of photographing political wall murals, and I have explored how that political environment is shaped by visual and literary representations of it.
My work on technology in Northern Ireland sparked my interest in the politics of surveillance, which in turn brought me to cyberspace to explore the risks posed by the virtual body created by information in the context of surveillance practices and, more generally, to think about the implications of technologies on our ways of knowing and being in the world--particularly, at the current moment, artificial intelligence. I write about AI in my Substack blog, Pandora's Bot, and have co-organized (with Sean Kamperman) an Educators' Summit on AI & Digital Literacy (June 1, 2023, Hall Center for the Humanities, in collaboration with the National Humanities Center) as well as several workshops on critical AI literacy for faculty and staff at KU and beyond.
Science, Technology, and Irish Modernism, which I coedited with Cóilín Parsons and Julie McCormick Weng, was the first collection of essays to explore the relationship between scientific and technological development and Irish literary and cultural modernism. My current monograph project, Technology and the Forms of Irish Modernism, explores how Irish modernist writers responded to the technological and scientific advances of the mid- to late-nineteenth century--and the violence they engendered--by showing how literary forms were more generative, transformative, and beneficial to human flourishing than those offered by then-current technologies. The writers examined in this project-- Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, Tom Greer, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, and Elizabeth Bowen--push back against the rising tide of materialism and physicalism that emerged out of nineteenth-century scientific discourse. Rather than simply rejecting scientific and technological advances, however, these writers show a nuanced understanding of how emerging technologies inform the patterns and forms of our experience; and they offer literature as an alternative way to mediate human interaction in an increasingly technologized world.
Areas of Research
20th-century British, Irish, and Northern Irish literature and culture; science, technology, and culture; artificial intelligence; surveillance studies; fanfiction.
Selected Publications —
Conrad, Kathryn, Cóilín Parsons, and Julie McCormick Weng, eds. Science, Technology, and Irish Modernism. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2019.
Conrad, Kathryn, Locked in the Family Cell: Gender, Sexuality, and Political Agency in Irish National Discourse. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.
"A Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights for Education," Critical AI blog, July 18, 2023. Forthcoming, Critical AI (1.2) February 2024.
Pandora's Bot, Substack.
“Technology and Irish Modernism,” in Margaret Kelleher, et al, Irish Literature and Technology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, January 2023.
“Rage’s Brother: The Bomb at the Center of Wilde’s Trivial Comedy.” Edinburgh Companion to Irish Modernism. Ed. Maud Ellmann, Siân White, and Vicki Mahaffey. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2021.
"Teaching Fan Fiction: Affect and Analysis." With Jamie Hawley. In "Fan Studies Pedagogies," edited by Paul Booth and Regina Yung Lee, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 35. https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2021.2087
"Infernal Machines: Weapons, Media, and the Networked Modernism of Tom Greer and James Joyce." In Science, Technology, and Irish Modernism. Vol. ed. Kathryn Conrad, Cóilín Parsons, and Julie McCormick Weng. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2019.
"Consuming Identity: ILGO, St. Patrick's Day, and the Transformation of Urban Public Space." Consuming St. Patrick's Day. Ed. Jonathan Skinner and Dominic Bryan. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2015.
"What the Digital Humanities Can't Do," The Chronicle Review (The Chronicle of Higher Education), 8 Sept 2014.
"'You Won't Re-route this Fruit': Northern Ireland, Queer, and a Geopolitics of Affection," Irish University Review 43 (2013): 30-35.
"Lighted Squares: Framing 'Araby.'" With Mark Osteen. Collaborative Dubliners, ed. Vicki Mahaffey. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2012.
"Nothing to Hide…Nothing to Fear": Discriminatory Surveillance and Queer Visibility in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Ashgate Research Companion to Queer Theory, ed. Noreen Giffney and Michael O'Rourke. Surrey: Ashgate, 2009.
"Surveillance, Gender, and the Virtual Body in the Information Age," Surveillance and Society 6.4 (2009): 380-7.
Awards & Honors —
Hall Center for the Humanities Research Fellowship, U. of Kansas, Spring 2016.
Byron T. Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching, U. of Kansas, 2007.
Keeler Intra-University Fellowship, with Political Science, U. of Kansas, Spring 2005.
Conger-Gabel Teaching Professorship, Dept. of English, U. of Kansas, 2004-7. Kansas