Visiting Public Humanities Faculty Fellow, 2023-24

March 22, 2023 by Sonja Johnston

The JHI is excited to announce our 2023-24 Visiting Public Humanities Faculty Fellow⁠—Teresa Heffernan. She will join us in January 2024 during our theme year Absence.

Teresa Heffernan is Professor of English Language and Literature at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS. Her current research is on the science and fiction of robotics and AI. She is currently working on a new book, Where AI Meets Fiction, and her previous publications include the edited collection Cyborg Futures: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Palgrave (2019); Veiled Figures: Women, Modernity, and the Spectres of Orientalism (2016); and Post-Apocalyptic Culture: Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Twentieth-Century Novel (2008/2011). Her articles have appeared in journals such as AI and Society, Studies in the Novel, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Arab Journal for the Humanities, Subject Matters, Canadian Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, and English Studies in Africa. She runs the website

Fellowship Project

“Intelligence” in the Absence of Life

Although the field of artificial intelligence, from its inception, has claimed to mimic human intelligence and creativity, this claim elides both the materiality of resource-intensive machines and the business of AI. What happens to the humanities, the centuries old study of human society, when it is swallowed up by the very different type of knowledge generated by algorithms, big data, and machines that do not traffic in facts or evidence and that strip data of context, culture and history. If the AI industry has long marketed the idea that there is no difference between the human and the machine by appealing to overly literal readings of fictions, this project reclaims fiction as fiction to investigate the question of creativity and intelligence in the absence of life.

About this Fellowship

The Visiting Public Humanities Faculty Fellowship is intended to foster knowledge exchange between the academy and the public. It is a component of the Jackman Humanities Institute’s research commitment to public scholarship, discussion, debate, and examination across multiple media platforms.