The Author Function

Imitating Grant Allen with Queer Writing Machines

Tiffany Chan

"it breaks down any prose or poem into its components—words, punctuation, grammar, and so forth—then compares that literary signature with a specimen of the target writer in its own memory."

Verse Meter Analyzer

Image from

The Author Function

A political or ideological function

An executable or transformative function

Image credits (CW from top left): Mark Sample, Allison Parrish, me (Tiffany Chan), Liam Cook

"The animating ideas here are augmentation; partnership; call and response.

The goal is not to make writing “easier”; it’s to make it harder.

The goal is not to make the resulting text “better”; it’s to make it different — weirder, with effects maybe not available by other means."


—Robin Sloan, "Writing with the machine"


Image by Collin  M. Burnett, published on Wikimedia Commons

Animated GIF of one cycle of activation, including prediction (forward prop.) and comparing/adjusting its guesses (back prop.). Animation sampled from a GIF by Wil C.

Grant Allen (left); Cover of Broadview edition of The Type-Writer Girl (right)

“When I wished to purvey strong meat for men, I was condemned to provide milk for babes.”

—Grant Allen, Introduction to British Barbarians

Image credits (CW from top left): Well Typewriter Archives, the People Group, Jonathan Strong, Ada Powers

The Turing Test

The Turing Test

"[Drag] plays upon the distinction between the anatomy of the performer and the gender that is being performed."

—Judith Butler, Gender Trouble

The repetition or performance of a gender ideal that, despite all attempts, is never realized as authentic. 

Gender Performativity

"an imitation without an original."

Creator unknown, published on Pinterest

Queer Computing

multiple forms vs. single stable ideal

indeterminacy vs. positivism

"failures" or alternatives vs. normative definitions of success

“In acknowledging, accepting, and even producing failure, queer computation seeks to make clear the values and assumptions that drive our culture of technological development and to offer alternate modes for living with and through technology.”

—Jacob Gaboury, "Critical Unmaking"

Thank you!


I created this project in an institution that stands on the traditional territories of the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSÁNEĆ peoples, whose historical relationship and stewardship of the land continues to this day. My growth as a scholar and a person would not have been possible without the land on which I have studied, worked, and lived for the past three years.


I am also grateful to Dr. Jentery Sayers, who has mentored and supported me from the very first days of my Master's. I couldn't imagine my graduate career without the formative experiences of working with the MLab and all the fruitful conversations that have emerged from it.


Thanks to Dr. Mary Elizabeth Leighton for her support, especially in the early stages of my research and writing process, and for pulling me out of difficult spots when needed.


And lastly, a very heartfelt thank you to all the cherished friends and fellow scholars who have helped me through a very rough year. I could not have done it without you.

Table by Daniel C. Howe and A. Braxton Soderman 


By tiffchan


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