Ashleigh Cassemere-Stanfield

Ashleigh Cassemere-Stanfield Profile Image
Cohort Year: 2017
Research Interests: Black Studies, Critical AI Studies, Media Theory, Game Studies, 20th and 21st Century American Studies, Digital Humanities, Affect Studies, New Materialism, Posthumanism, Horror and Monstrosity, Speculative Design


Ashleigh is a scholar of AI, blackness, and media theory concerned with how life as a digital subject means becoming a mediant for others, and effectively living on and as a new kind of margin. Their dissertation, “Touching Menace: Artificial Intelligence, Aesthetics and the Intimacies of Synthetic Sense” examines AI’s imbrication with Black nonbeing and transcendental subjectivity, and it does so as a means of investigating the broader temporal suspension and abject entanglements of digitality. Before coming to the University of Chicago, Ashleigh received their B.A. in English and Studio Art from Hunter College, CUNY and their M.A. in Liberal Studies from the Graduate Center of CUNY. For their M.A. thesis, they built an interactive tool called Sonifying Hamlet. This tool uses text-mining and algorithmic composition to remediate Shakespeare's Hamlet into a set of acoustic texts that invite students and scholars to “read” via their encounter with the sonic environment. 


Dissertation:  Touching Menace: Artificial Intelligence, Aesthetics and the Intimacies of Synthetic Sense. Committee: Lauren Berlant (Co-chair), Riley Snorton (Co-chair), Bill Brown, Patrick Jagoda

Master's Thesis: Sonifying Hamlet (live and in beta form at


Co-Lecturer, Black Individuation, co-taught with Clemens Apprich (Graduate seminar, # students TBD), University of Applied Arts Vienna, Fall 2022
Lecturer, Desiring Machines: Artificial Intelligence in Contemporary Media (Undergraduate seminar, 14 students), University of Chicago, Spring 2022
Teaching Assistant, Literature of Disgust: Rabelais to Nausea, Lead Instructor: Zachary Samalin, University of Chicago, Spring 2021
Teaching Assistant, The World's a Stage: Performance in Politics, Culture, and Life, Lead Instructor: John Muse, University of Chicago, Fall 2020
Teaching Assistant, Critical Video Game Studies, Lead Instructors: Patrick Jagoda & Ashlyn Sparrow, University of Chicago, Fall 2019

Recent Courses

ENGL 15440/MAAD 10440: Desiring Machines: Artificial Intelligence in Contemporary Media

Artificial intelligence is a cross-disciplinary field that seeks to imagine and develop machines able to reproduce, automate and exceed the cognitive and sensorial capabilities of biological organisms. This course will trace the conceptual genealogies that inform contemporary AI, and it will interrogate the uses and abuses of AI within social, legal, medical and creative contexts. Course materials will include a diverse array of media and theory including: Soma, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Natural Born Cyborgs, Ex Machina, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Speculative Everything, A Natural History of the Enigma, etc… No prior familiarity with AI or computation is necessary. In lieu of a traditional midterm and final, this course will ask students to develop a series of speculative design projects that imagine new intelligent organisms and their worlds.