Samuel Baker, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a Junior Fellow of the British Studies Program, and frequently teaches for Plan II Honors. Dr. Baker is a founding member of the Executive Team for the Good Systems Texas Grand Challenge, and will serve as that initiative’s Chair in 2020-21. His research interests include British Romantic poetry; historical fiction, science fiction, and the gothic novel; media studies, informatics, the environmental humanities, and the cultural analysis of the built environment now becoming known as infrastructure studies.
With Good Systems, Dr. Baker is currently co-PI of the “Bad AI and Beyond” project, which examines how media representations shape public perceptions of artificial intelligence, and what innovative ways writers and filmmakers are finding to represent AI and its impact on society. He also serves as the Executive Team Liaison to the Public Interest Technology research focus area, and he has organized cross-disciplinary speculative fiction conversations, as well as a study group of graduate students funded by Good Systems for their work on research projects concerned with Covid-19.
In the Spring of 2021, Dr. Baker will be on leave from teaching to write up findings from his various Good Systems projects, and to work on his book in progress, Gothic Care: Walter Scott and the Stewardship of Antiquarian Romance. Analyzing Scott’s pathbreaking historical fictions, this study proposes a new model for understanding his achievement: a model in which authorship and kingship ultimately matter less for his work than does an ethos of stewardship, remediating literature and life alike.
In his first book, Written on the Water: British Romanticism and the Maritime Empire of Culture (https://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/3952), Dr. Baker argues that British poet-critics like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, and, later, Matthew Arnold developed what would become the idea of modern culture by modeling that idea on Britain’s imperial command of the sea. Dr. Baker has also published various articles and book chapters on these authors, as well as on Scott and on the gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe.
Before returning to academia to take his Ph.D., Professor Baker worked as a journalist and book reviewer, as well as in museums and libraries. These experiences left him something of a generalist, and he maintains broad interests in literature and art, in film and media studies, and in politics.
Suzanne Scott is an associate professor in the Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research and teaching interests include fan studies, media convergence, digital and participatory culture, social media, transmedia storytelling, comic book culture, and gender studies.
Dr. Scott’s scholarly monograph, Fake Geek Girls: Fandom, Gender, and the Convergence Culture Industry (NYU Press, 2019), surveys the politics of participation within digitally mediated fan cultures, addressing how the “mainstreaming” of fan and geek culture over the past decade has privileged an androcentric conception of the fan, marginalizing female fans in the process.
She is also the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom (2018), an anthology that brings together an international and interdisciplinary collection of nearly 60 established scholars to reflect on the state of the field and to point to new directions in fan studies research.
Her scholarly work has appeared in the journals Transformative Works and Cultures, Cinema Journal, New Media & Society, Participations, Feminist Media Histories, and Critical Studies in Media Communication as well as numerous anthologies, including Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World (2nd Edition), How to Watch Television, The Participatory Culture Handbook, and Cylons in America: Critical Studies in Battlestar Galactica.
Paul Toprac, Professor of Instruction and Director, Game Development and Design Program, and Principal Investigator of the SAGA Lab in the Department of Computer Science. In this capacity, Toprac had published nearly 200 games and apps. Toprac’s research interests are game design and development, particularly for learning, motivation, and behavioral change. He has written numerous articles and book chapters on how to use digital games to promote motivation and affect emotions. Previously, Toprac was at the SMU Guildhall in the master’s program in game development. Before then, he was the Executive Director of the Austin Technology Council, which he grew to become the then largest independent technology association in Texas. Toprac has more than the twenty years of experience in the software industry, in roles ranging from CEO to product manager to consultant, including founding a successful computer and software development company in the mid-80s. Toprac holds a Bachelor’s of Science, Master’s of Business Administration, and Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin.
Bad AI and Beyond Student Assistants
Graduate Research Assistant Hannah Hopkins is a first-year PhD student in Rhetoric & Writing with a concentration in digital literacies and languages. Her research focuses on data cultures, science fiction, and speculative rhetorics.
Undergraduate Research Assistant and Assistant Outreach Coordinator Elizabeth Le is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Digital Media. Currently, she is looking towards design ethics and Human-Computer-Interaction programs as potential fields of graduate study. It is her hope that through her research, she can discover the patterns of digital design that uphold an ethical, accessible, and empathetic relationship with users.
Undergraduate Research Assistant and Assistant Promotions Coordinator Renata Nava is a third-year Advertising and Corporate Communications major with a minor in Business Administration. As a member of the Texas Media & Analytics Fall 2020 cohort, she is planning to enter the field with a focus in either Account Management or Media Planning. While Renata is still learning about the vast realm of advertising, she is certain she has a future in integrated branded communications, putting to use her creativity and passion for media analytics.