Alan Liu is Chair and Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an affiliated faculty member of UCSB’s Media Arts & Technology graduate program. Previously, he was on the faculty of Yale University’s English Department and British Studies Program.
He began his research in the field of British romantic literature and art. His first book, Wordsworth: The Sense of History (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989), explored the relation between the imaginative experiences of literature and history. In a series of theoretical essays in the 1990s, he explored cultural criticism, the “new historicism,” and postmodernism in contemporary literary studies. In 1994, when he started his Voice of the Shuttle Web site for humanities research, he began What is the relation between the seductions of literature and of information?to study information culture as a way to close the circuit between the literary or historical imagination and the technological imagination. In 2004, he published his The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information (Univ. of Chicago Press). Recently published from Univ. of Chicago Press is Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the Database.
Liu founded the NEH-funded Teaching with Technology project at UC Santa Barbara called Transcriptions: Literature and the Culture of Information and his English Dept’s undergraduate specialization on Literature and the Culture of Information. During 2002-2007 he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) and chair of the Technology/Software Committee of the ELO’s PAD Initiative (Preservation / Archiving / Dissemination of Electronic Literature).
His current major digital initiative, which he started in 2005 as a University of California multi-campus, collaborative research group, is Transliteracies: Research in the Technological, Social, and Cultural Practices of Online Reading. Presently, he is concentrating on the RoSE (Research-oriented Social Environment) software project that is the culmination of Transliteracies and a series of philosophical and practical essays on media histories, futures, and their impact on the institutions and practices of the humanities.