Skip to main content

Darren Wershler, PhD

Associate Professor, English
Concordia University Research Chair, Media & Contemporary Literature, Tier 2, English

Darren Wershler, PhD

My work focuses on the relationship between avant-garde art and writing on one hand and communication studies and media history on the other. Inside the academy, I've been a professor in both English and Communication Studies departments. I've also worked professionally as a writer, editor, designer and publisher of print and new media. As a result, I take an interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching, and am committed to the notion that universities need to search continually for ways to build connections to people, organizations and things outside of themselves.

My most recent book, Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg (fall 2010), concerns a major work by Canada's most iconoclastic filmmaker. Through his reinvention of half-forgotten film genres, his remobilization of abandoned techniques from the early history of cinema, and his unique editing style, Maddin has created a critically successful oeuvre that looks like nothing else in Canadian film. My Winnipeg (2008), which Roger Ebert called one of the ten best films of the first decade of the twenty-first century, has consolidated Maddin's international reputation. I argue that Maddin's use of techniques and media falls outside of the normal repertoire of contemporary cinema, which requires us to re-examine what we think we know about the documentary genre and even 'film' itself. Through an exploration of the film's major thematic concerns - memory, the cultural archive, and how people and objects circulate through the space of the city - I contend that My Winnipeg is intriguing because it is psychologically and affectively true without being historically accurate.

My collaborative work over the last six years will culminate in another volume, titled Dynamic Fair Dealing, co-edited with Rosemary Coombe and Martin Zeilinger. In this volume, a group of scholars, activists, and artists from a variety of disciplines and genres will explore the relations between intellectual property laws, technology and code, institutional practices and other obstacles to mobility that mediate the cultural worlds Canadians can imagine and explore as educators, researchers and creators. The essays will place particular emphasis on practices of dynamic fair dealing - emergent approaches to the creation, circulation and management of digital cultural objects that challenge and/or present alternatives to traditional paradigms of intellectual property.

Work in the planning stages includes a monograph on conceptual writer and artist Kenneth Goldsmith, which will approach his work from the perspective of media poetics; and an anthology of essays on conceptual poetics, co-edited with Vanessa Place.


PhD, Department of English, York University (2005)
(Dissertation: “The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting”; nominated for the York University Dissertation Prize)
MA, Department of English, University of Alberta

(Thesis: “Gynesis and Body Inscription in the Fiction of William Gibson”)

BA, BA (1st Class Honours), Department of English, University of Manitoba

Research and teaching interests

History and theory of communication technologies
Avant-garde art and literature (20th and 21st centuries)
New media (Internet technologies, mobile communications, video games)
New media policy (Copyright, creator's rights, user's rights, cultural policy)

Other activities

At Concordia, I am a member of TAG, the Technoculture, Art and Games Initiative, a cross-faculty interdisciplinary research team which explores the relationship between art, and contemporary digital culture.

I am also faculty at the CFC Media Lab TELUS Interactive Art & Entertainment Program in Toronto.

Grants / research projects / honors and awards

2010 SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant – Sustaining Digital Scholarship for Sustaining Digital Culture: $25,000 (University of Guelph)  PI: Susan Brown. Co-Applicant.
2010 Aid to Scholarly Publications Program Grant – Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg: $8000
2008 Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies February Book of the Month (The Iron Whim)
2007 University Merit Award: $3000 (Wilfrid Laurier)
2007 Shortlisted Nominee, ReLit Award (with Bill Kennedy, for apostrophe)
2007 Digital Dimensions: The Arts and Virtual Culture: $10,200 (York Seminar for Advanced
Research) PIs: Mary Leigh Morbey and Caitlin Fisher. Collaborator.
2007 Special Initiatives Fund: $5000 (Wilfrid Laurier)
2007 CFI Leaders Opportunity Fund/Ontario Research Fund Grant – Artmob Initiative: $ 385,498
Co-PIs: Rosemary Coombe, Christopher Innes and Darren Wershler-Henry
2006 SSHRC ITST Networking Grant – Artmob Initiative: $46,427
Co-PIs: Rosemary Coombe and Darren Wershler-Henry
2005 VP Academic Development Fund: $2000 (Wilfrid Laurier)
2005 Alcuin Citation for Excellence in Book Design, Said Like Reeds Or Things

Selected publications

Book (Peer-reviewed nonfiction)

Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg. Canadian Cinema. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.

The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007.

Chapters in books (peer-reviewed)

“Exchange on Circulars.” New Media Poetics: Contexts, TechnoTexts, and Theories. Ed. Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss. Cambridge: Leonardo Books/MIT Press, 2006. 73-94. With Brian Kim Stefans.

“OG Style: Ice T/Jacques Derrida.” Postmodern Apocalypse: Theory and Cultural Practice at the End. Ed. Richard Dellamora. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995. 241-61.

“Canadian ”Pataphysics: Geognostic Interrogations of A Distant Somewhere.” Semiotext(e) Canadas. Ed. Jordan Zinovich. New York/Peterborough: Semiotext(e)/Marginal Editions, 1994. 66-78.

“Return from Without: Louis Riel and Liminal Space.” Gone to Croatan: Origins of American Dropout Culture. Ed. Ron Sakolsky and James Koehnline. New York: Autonomedia/AK Press, 1993. 315-28.

Journal articles (peer-reviewed)

“The Locative, the Ambient, and the Hallucinatory in the Internet of Things.” Design and Culture 2.2: 199-216.

“Sonic Signage: [murmur], the Refrain and Territoriality.” Canadian Journal of Communication 33.3 (2008): 405-18.

“Technologies of Dictation: Typewriting and the Toronto Research Group.” Capilano Review 2:50 (Fall 2006): 111-21.

“Vertical Excess: what fuckan theory and bill bissett’s Concrete Poetics.” Capilano Review 2.23 (Fall 1997): 117-23.

Criticism and reviews (peer-reviewed)

Review of Kenneth Goldsmith’s American Trilogy. Postmodern Culture 19.1 (September 2009).

Review of Laura J. Murray and Samuel E. Trosow, Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide. TOPIA 20 (2009): 254-56.

Review of Michael Strangelove, Empire of Mind. Canadian Journal of Communication 33.1 (2008).

Review of Ian Monk, Writings for the Oulipo. American Book Review 29.3 (March/April 2008): 12.

Books (non-fiction)

The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2005.

FREE as in speech and beer: open source, peer-to-peer and the economics of the online revolution. Toronto: Financial Times Press, 2002.

The Original Canadian City Dweller’s Almanac. Toronto: Viking Penguin, 2002. With Hal Niedzviecki.

CommonSpace: Beyond Virtual Community. Toronto: Financial Times FT.COM, 2000. With Mark Surman.

Internet Directory 2001. Toronto: Prentice Hall Canada, 2000. With Scott Mitchell.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Shopping for Canadians. Toronto: Alpha Books/Prentice Hall/Que, 1999. With Preston Gralla.

Internet Directory 2000. Toronto: Prentice Hall Canada, 1999. With Scott Mitchell.

Books (conceptual writing and poetry)

apostrophe. Toronto: ECW Press, 2006. With Bill Kennedy.

the tapeworm foundry andor the dangerous prevalence of imagination. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2000. Shortlisted for the 2001 Trillium Award. Digital edition New York: /ubu Editions, 2002.

NICHOLODEON: a book of lowerglyphs. Toronto: Coach House Books, 1997.

Chapters in books

“Treatise On Style  – Louis Aragon.” Lost Classics, ed. Michael Ondaatje, Michael Redhill, Esta Spalding, Linda Spalding. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2000. 290-94.

Journal and magazine articles

“Alienated 12: Game Face.” Matrix 82 (spring 2009): 50-51.
“Alienated 11: Blinded with Aperture Science.” Matrix 81 (fall 2008): 46-47.
“Alienated 9: Zombie Parables.” Matrix 79 (spring 2008): 52-53.
“Alienated 8: Dokaka – Air Guitar Jordan.” Matrix 78 (fall 2007): 46-47.
“Alienated 7: Construction Time Again.” Matrix 77 (summer 2007): 54-55.
“The Poet’s Stave and Bar.” Rampike 15.1 (2007): 30-34.
“Alienated 6: Welcome to Uranus.” Matrix 76 (spring 2007): 36-37.
“Alienated 5: Playing with Dolls.” Matrix 75 (fall 2006): 3.
“Alienated 4: New Voyages.” Matrix 74 (summer 2006): 2-3.
“Uncreative is the New Creative: Kenneth Goldsmith Not Typing.” Open Letter 12th ser. 7: 152-59.
“Not An Especially Bright Dog.” BRICK 76 (Winter 2005): 104-08.
“Alienated 2: You Whores.” Matrix 72 (fall 2005): 8-9.
“Alienated 1: under difficulties semi colon.” Matrix 71 (summer 2005): 6-7.
“Writers of the World, Unclench.” THIS 37.2 (September 2003): 28-32.
“Argument for A Secular Martyrology.” Open Letter 10th ser. 4: 37-47.
“NICHOLODEON: Epitaph.” Open Letter 9th ser. 8 (Spring 1997): 99-114.
“Devour More Prime Meat Blindly: The ’Pataphysics of the Keyboard.” Open Letter 9th ser. 7 (Winter 1997). Millennial ’Pataphysics issue. 64-81.
“Concatenation Hemorrhaging: Framing John Riddell.” Open Letter 8th ser. 8 (Winter 1994). Toronto Since Then (part 1), ed. Clint Burnham, Lance la Rocque, Lisa Narbeshuber. 117-27.
“The (W)Hole in the Middle: The Metaphysics of Presence in the Criticism of Robert Kroetsch.” Open Letter 8th ser. 3 (Spring 1992): 58-75.

Back to top

© Concordia University