Virginia Tech® home

Building an Institute for Empathic Immersive Narrative

A group picture of nine people standing in a lobby.
Amanda Hodes, graduate research assistant, and grant principal investigators and advisory board members Bryan Carter, Ashley Shew, Riham Alieldin, Tyechia Thompson, Damon Davis, Eric Lyon, Wallace Lages, and Al Evangelista.

About the Grant

With the American Council or Learned Societies (ACLS) Digital Justice Seed Grant, we will create an advisory board who will work with us over a period of 13 months to help us plan an Institute for Empathic Immersive Narrative hosted at Virginia Tech. This board will be particularly needed as we set to design an institute that will bring together underrepresented humanities scholars across the U.S. to study and engage empathy with the latest immersive technologies available at Virginia Tech including virtual reality, high-density loudspeaker arrays, intimate audio through bone conduction, immersive 3D video, and digital storytelling. Our critical interventions will be disseminated in a six episode podcast series, a white paper, and a public facing website.

The Co-PIs

Tyechia Thompson is assistant professor of English. Her areas of research include African American literature, digital humanities, Afrofuturism, and manuscript and archival studies. She is the creator of “Baldwin’s Paris,” a geospatial literary tool that maps over 100 references that James Baldwin made to places in Paris. She is the recipient of an American Council of Learned Societies Digital Justice Seed Grant for the project “Building an Institute for Empathic Immersive Narrative,” and an NEH-Mellon Fellowship for Digital Publication supporting the project “Place, Memory, Poetry, and the James A. Emanuel Papers at the Library of Congress.” She has published in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Afro-Publishing Without Walls/University of Illinois Open Publishing Network, Fire!!!: The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies, and the College Language Association Journal.

Wallace Lages is an assistant professor at Northeastern University with a joint appointment in the Department of Art + Design and the Khoury College of Computer Sciences. His research focuses on user experience of augmented and virtual reality applications, leveraging methods from disciplines such as design, engineering, and psychology. His artistic practice has been part of inaugural exhibitions and has been displayed in Brazil, the United States, Italy, and Singapore. He was also a co-founder of the game studio Ilusis Interactive Graphics. Prior to joining Northeastern University, Lages was an assistant professor at Virginia Tech and Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Lages holds a Ph.D. degree in computer dcience from Virginia Tech, and M.S. and B.S. degrees in computer science from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.

Eric Lyon is a composer, computer musician, spatial music researcher, audio software developer, and curator. In the 1980s, Lyon developed a wide range of new signal processing strategies for modifying both synthetic and acoustic sounds, including a wide range of spectral processors based on Fourier analysis. In the 1990s, he developed algorithmic approaches to sound design that resulted in increasingly complex and unpredictable timbres. In parallel, he began working with live processing of acoustic sounds, first with the Kyma system, and next with Max/MSP, ultimately writing a large collection of his own Max/MSP audio plugins (also called “externals”). 

The Inside Story Podcast

Illustration of a group of people with headphones on, looking at cell phones.