Associate Professor of English, Co-ordinator for the Center for Material Cultures Research in Archaeology, Art, and Indigenous Studies

Moreland Hall

Moreland Hall 302

2550 SW Jefferson Way

2550 SW Jefferson Way
Corvallis, OR 97331
M.A. and Ph.D., Rutgers University
M.Phil., Oxford University
B.A., Lawrence University
Office Hours: 
On sabbatical for Fall 2023 and Winter 2024

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Affiliated with: 
School of Writing, Literature, and Film
OSU Main Campus
Research/Career Interests: 

Megan Ward teaches courses on British literature from 1800 to the present, the history of the novel, and archival theory. Her research investigates how realist novels have influenced culture from the Victorian period to the present. Her first book, Seeming Human: Victorian Realist Characters and Artificial Intelligence (Ohio State UP, 2018) offers a new theory of realist character through the realist novel’s unexpected afterlife: the intelligent machine.

Professor Ward is currently working on a human history of chatbots. While even the most techno-savvy admit to feeling unsettled by the human-like qualities of contemporary AI, explanations typically focus exclusively on technological innovation. Contemporary emotional reactions to chatbots, this book argues, are part of a longer history of human communications mediated by machines. Mixing histories of technology and literature with personal narrative and ranging from the Victorian telegraph to ChatGPT, this essay collection will demonstrate how humans have long used technology in ways that prepared us to feel emotional attachments with – not just through – machines.

Professor Ward's work on technology and realism has appeared or is forthcoming in edited collections such as AI Narratives and The Routledge Guide to Politics and Literature as well as journals such as New Literary History and Genre. She is also Co-Editor of the Nineteenth-Century Data Collective and has published writing on the Victorian antecedents of contemporary culture for general audiences in The Atlantic, WiredThe Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.