Jane Alexander is director of the Creative Writing (Online) MSc fiction programme at the University of Edinburgh, and an associate lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University. In 2018 she completed a PhD in Creative Writing at Northumbria University, where her practice research explored ideas of the contemporary and technological uncanny in short fiction. Her novel The Last Treasure Hunt (Saraband) was selected as a Waterstones debut of the year in 2015, and her short fiction has won awards and been widely published. Current and forthcoming projects include a collection of unsettling short stories about everyday and near-future technologies, and a novel about virtual realities.
Ruth Aylett is a Professor of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt and a published poet and short story writer. She researches human-robot interaction and played a leading role in the EU-funded project LIREC looking at long-term robot companions 2007-2012. She appeared in the Free Fringe in 2012 with Sarah the Poetic Robot and has been involved in experimental work on the impact of specific robot embodiments on human interaction partners.
She was the author of the popular science book ‘Robots – bringing intelligent systems to life?’ and has also been published by New Writing Scotland, Ubiquity: The Journal of Pervasive Media, The North, Prole, Interpreter’s House, Bloodaxe Books. She argues that drama is important in interaction with robots as well as naturalism and that the animator’s Illusion of Life is the way to avoid the Uncanny Valley.
Tineke Broer currently works as a Research Fellow on a Wellcome Trust-funded project on ‘Translations and transformations in patienthood: Cancer in the Post-Genomics Era’ (PI’s: Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley and Professor Anne Kerr). She is a sociologist (working in the field of Science and Technology Studies) of biomedicine and mental health, and her interests centre around the politics and practice of knowledge production (such as in relation to genomics, neuroscience, and psychiatry and psychology), with a particular interest in how ‘lay’ actors engage with, and at times resist, such knowledge.
Sarah Chan is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in the field of ethics. She has a wide interest in the ethics of medical research including stem cells, embryo research, and reproductive medicine. Human enhancement, gene therapy, and genetic modification, along with animal ethics and research ethics, are also areas of study. Her projects include work on constructing the value of ‘species’ in conservation ecology.
Ed Cohen teaches modern thought in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University. He is the author of A Body Worth Defending: Immunity, Biopolitics and the Apotheosis of the Modern Body (Duke, 2009) and is currently completing a philosophical memoir about living with Crohn’s Disease entitled: Shit Happens: Ruminations on Illness and Healing. Ed has written widely on topics of gender and sexuality, embodiment, immunology, and autoimmunity. Recent academic writings can be accessed here: http://womens-studies.rutgers.edu/faculty/core-faculty/122-ed-cohen.
In addition, Ed hosts a counseling practice for those interested in regarding healing as a living possibility. Information about the practice can be found here: www.healingcounsel.com.
Christine De Luca lives in Edinburgh. She writes in English and Shetlandic, her mother tongue. She was appointed Edinburgh’s Makar for 2014-2017. Besides several children’s stories and one novel, she has had seven poetry collections and four bi-lingual volumes published (French, Italian, Icelandic and Norwegian). She’s participated in many festivals here and abroad. Her poems have been selected four times for the Best Scottish Poems of the Year (2006, 2010, 2013 and 2015) for The Scottish Poetry Library online anthologies.
Sonja Erikainen is a research fellow in medical sociology and bioethics at the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests are centred around temporality and change in scientific knowledge production, especially in relation to biomedical categorisation processes and practices. She is currently working on a Wellcome Trust project ‘Patienthood and Participation in the Digital Era’ (PI Sarah Chan), which examines the changing roles of patients, research participants, and health consumers in the context of digital and social media. Her PhD work was focused on the medicalisation and biomedical regulation of binary sex difference and doping in the context of sport. In October 2018, she will return to these areas of research to complete an ESRC-funded fellowship on ‘Sex Binaries, Performance Enhancement, and Elite Sport’ at the University of Leeds.
Isabel Fletcher is a qualitative social scientist whose research focuses the interactions between nutrition research and public health policy. Her PhD Obesity: A historical account of the construction of a modern epidemic spanned medical sociology, public health policy and the history of medicine. She has subsequently worked on food security policy and commercial actors’ understandings of public health regulation. She lectures on food security, food policy, social scientific approaches to nutrition, and sustainable consumption as part of a range of undergraduate and Masters courses. She has experience of a range of research methods, including documentary analysis and interviewing lay and professional publics. She is also co-convenor of the interdisciplinary network Food Researchers in Edinburgh (FRIED) and currently organises the network’s seminar series.
Vassilis Galanos is a PhD student based at the Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies department at the University of Edinburgh, investigating the construction and evolution of expectations in artificial intelligence and robotics. He has received a Master of Science by Research in Science and Technology Studies, a Master of Science in Information Science and Cultural Dissemination, and Bachelor Degree in Library Science and Information Systems. His broader fields of interest include the areas of cybernetics, information theory, media theory, AI and robot ethics, and has a passion for comic books, photography, and experimental music. He enjoys being a teaching assistant for the undergraduate course Technology in Society and translating books from time to time. He is a book and vinyl record hoarder. In his personal speculations, he often wonders about the difference between the uncanny, the eerie, the grotesque, and the kitsch and how one becomes accustomed to them.
Jules Horne is a Scottish playwright, fiction writer and musician from the Borders. She studied German and French at Oxford University, and has worked as a journalist and translator in Germany and Switzerland. She is an Associate Playwright with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland, and part of the teaching/design team for the Open University Creative Writing MA.
Jules has won two Edinburgh Fringe Firsts for her site-specific touring plays, ALLOTMENT and THREAD. The third in the Nutshell trilogy, HANDFAST, will be performed during Edinburgh Fringe 2018 at Summerhall. Other stage plays include Scape (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland); Gorgeous Avatar (Traverse); The Wife of Usher’s Well (Quondam); Come to Where I’m From (Paines Plough); her 8 radio plays include Macmillan’s Marvellous Motion Machine (BBC Radio 4); Life: An Audio Tour (BBC Radio 4); Overdue South (BBC Scotland/Traverse); Inner Critic (BBC Radio 7).
As a lyric writer, Jules has collaborated with composer Suzanne Parry on Three Border Songs, including the chilling Kist Bride, performed by Scottish Chamber Orchestra musicians with BBC Scotland Traditional Musician of the Year Hannah Rarity. Her fiction includes the Scottish Gothic inspired short story collection, Wrapped Town, and the Oulipo-inspired Nanonovels. Her film I Still Love You Really was part of the National Theatre of Scotland’s 5 Minute Yes, No, Don’t Know Show. Jules’ has held residencies at Hotel Chevillon, Grez-sur-Loing (RL Stevenson Fellowship) and MoKS Centre for Arts as Social Practice, Estonia. She’s interested in borders, Border ballads, cross-disciplinary practice and corpus linguistics. www.juleshorne.com
Anna Kuslits is a PhD candidate in Science and Technology Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her thesis looks at practices of anatomical knowledge-making – specifically the collection and preparation of body parts – in eighteenth-century Edinburgh, with a focus on the Monro Collection of eighteenth-century anatomical artifacts, housed at the University’s Anatomy Museum. Anna has a background in Comparative Literature and Gender Studies. Her broader research interests include the history of the body, the history of medicine, museums, and material culture.
Graeme Laurie is Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in the School of Law in the University of Edinburgh, and Principal Investigator on the Liminal Spaces Project, funded by the Wellcome Trust. Graeme’s research interests relate to the protection and promotion of medicine and the sciences, particularly on the matter of improving human health research regulation. The Liminal Spaces project is examining many different domains of human health regulation, from tissue and data to clinical trials and embryo research. The project supports research that engages with notions of the uncanny, such as the doctoral work of Catriona McMillan who has examined the embryo as a liminal being. The contribution to the workshop will be about whether, how, and when the law can engage with the uncanny.
Liminal spaces project and publications: http://www.liminalspaces.ed.ac.uk/