Dr Matt Hayler PhD (Exon), MA, BA (Hons), AFHEA

Photograph of Dr Matt Hayler

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature and Digital Cultures

Contact details

Room 147, Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I’m a senior lecturer in contemporary literature and digital cultures and co-director of the Centre for Digital Cultures in the department of English Literature.

I’m CO-I on the AHRC-funded Ambient Literature project and acted as a UK representative for the COST-funded European EREAD (evolution of reading in the age of digitisation) research network.

My research interests focus on posthumanism and transhumanism in philosophy, art, and contemporary and near-future professional and amateur industrial practice; digital cultures and digital humanities research and teaching; human enhancement; e-reading; materially experimental writing; weird fiction; critical theory; and the philosophies of technology and embodiment. I’m particularly interested in how the materiality of our artefacts impacts upon our cultures, daily practices, and cognition. Beyond English Studies, my research draws on cognitive science (particularly 4E cognition); post- and classical phenomenology; science and technology studies; object-oriented ontology; new and speculative materialism; and a wide variety of posthumanistic thinking with a focus on feminist and non-European thinkers alongside critical race, disability, and animal studies, and posthumanistic transhumanisms.


  • PhD English Studies (Exeter, 2011) – “Incorporating Technology: A Phenomenological Approach to the Study of Artefacts and the Popular Resistance to E-reading” available at https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10036/3615
  • MA Criticism and Theory (Exeter, 2007)
  • BA Hons English and Creative Writing (University of Wales Aberystwyth, 2006)


I completed my PhD on e-reading and the use of technology at the University of Exeter in 2011 and went on to lecture there for three years as a teaching fellow. In that time I taught contemporary literature, devised and convened the first year whole-cohort criticism and theory module, and introduced a module in Digital and Cyberculture Studies. I joined the University of Birmingham as a lecturer in 2014, have directed and co-directed the Centre for Digital Cultures from 2016, and became a senior lecturer in 2017.


I’m currently on research leave for 2018/19. I typically teach and convene modules on some combination of critical theory, digital cultures, human enhancement, and contemporary fiction at all levels.

Postgraduate supervision

I currently supervise doctoral students working on: glitch, post-/unhumanism, and VR; videogame studies; weird fiction and object-oriented ontology; cyberpunk and embodiment; competing feminist and alt-right communities online; metafiction and autopoiesis; and posthumanism and human enhancement.

I’m keen to hear from any prospective students with interests in or related to: posthumanism; transhumanism and human enhancement; technology studies; electronic reading and the materiality of text; digital cultures and digital humanities; phenomenology and postphenomenology; object-oriented ontology; cognitive science and the humanities; critical theory; experimental literature; and videogames and VR.

Find out more - our PhD English Literature  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My current research looks at definitions of posthumanism and transhumanism, the precursors for posthumanistic thinking that can be found in non-European traditions, and the posthumanistic insights inherent in contemporary cognitive science, philosophy, art, pre-digital and digital technology and material cultures, biology, companion species, critical theory, and amateur and professional industrial practice.

For the first 10 years of my career I focussed on electronic reading, the move from page to screen, and the resistance to new technologies, interests which come together in my 2015 monograph Challenging the Phenomena of Technology . This work resulted in my becoming network coordinator for the Cognitive Futures in the Humanities AHRC research network; steering committee member for the AHRC Digital Reading network ; and UK management committee member for the COST European E-READ network. With the AHRC’s REACT knowledge exchange hub I worked with the RSC and two artists on a digital “theatre book”  and I’m CO-I on the AHRC-funded Ambient Literature project which includes commissions for three new works of ambient digital literature.

With Professor Gabriele Griffin I co-edited two volumes on research methods in the digital humanities (https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-research-methods-for-creating-and-curating-data-in-the-digital-humanities.html and https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-research-methods-for-reading-digital-data-in-the-digital-humanities.html) and an article on collaboration in digital humanities projects and the effects of silencing the work of technical, non-academic, and non-human contributors to the production of knowledge (http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/12/1/000351/000351.html).

Other activities

Co-Director of the Centre for Digital Cultures.


Recent publications


Hayler, M, Dovey, J, Abba, T & Pullinger, K 2020, Ambient Literature: towards a new poetics of situated writing and reading practices. 1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-41456-6

Hayler, M 2015, Challenging the phenomena of technology: Embodiment, expertise, and evolved knowledge. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137377869


Hayler, M 2012, 'The Extent of Text: Producing Meaning Beyond Intuition ', Writing Technologies, vol. 4, pp. 20-42. <http://www.ntu.ac.uk/writing_technologies/back_issues/vol_4/124935.pdf>

Hayler, M 2010, 'Digital Writing and Pedagogy: how do we teach, what do we teach?', WordPlay, no. 4.

Hayler, M 2010, 'TRANSLATING TO DIGITAL: WHAT CHANGES WHEN NOTHING CHANGES?', Peer English: Journal of New Critical Thinking, no. 5.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Hayler, M & Deegan, M 2016, Digital Humanities and the Future of the Book. in A Hewings, L Prescott & P Seargeant (eds), Futures for English Studies: Teaching Language Literature and Creative Writing in Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 161-178. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-137-43180-6_10

Hayler, M & Griffin, G (ed.) 2016, Introduction. in Research Methods for Creating and Curating Data in the Digital Humanities. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 1-13.

Griffin, G & Hayler, M 2016, Introduction. in G Griffin & M Hayler (eds), Research Methods for Reading Digital Data in the Digital Humanities. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 1-13.

Hayler, M 2016, Matter Matters: The Effects of Materiality and the Move From Page to Screen. in M Hayler & G Griffin (eds), Research Methods for Reading Digital Data in the Digital Humanities. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 14-35.

Hayler, M 2015, Another way of looking. in Theatre Performance and Cognition.


Hayler, M & Griffin, G 2016, Research Methods for Creating and Curating Digital Data in the Digital Humanities. Edinburgh University Press. <https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-research-methods-for-creating-and-curating-data-in-the-digital-humanities.html>

Griffin, G & Hayler, M 2016, Research Methods for Reading Digital Data in the Digital Humanities. Edinburgh University Press. <https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-research-methods-for-reading-digital-data-in-the-digital-humanities.html>


Griffin, G & Hayler, M 2018, 'Collaboration in Digital Humanities Research – Persisting Silences', Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 1. <http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/12/1/000351/000351.html>

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