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Colin Milburn


  • Ph.D./Ph.D., Harvard University, 2005
  • M.A., Stanford University, 1999
  • B.S., Stanford University, 1999
  • B.A., Stanford University, 1998


Professor Milburn holds the Gary Snyder Chair in Science and the Humanities. He is a faculty member in the Science and Technology Studies Program, the English Department, and the Cinema and Digital Media Program. He is also affiliated with the programs in Cultural StudiesPerformance Studies, and Critical Theory. Since 2008, he has been serving as the director of the UC Davis ModLab digital humanities laboratory.

Research Focus

Professor Milburn’s research focuses on the relations of literature, science, and technology. His interests include science fiction, gothic horror, the history of biology, the history of physics, nanotechnology, video games, and the digital humanities. He is the author of Nanovision: Engineering the Future (2008), Mondo Nano: Fun and Games in the World of Digital Matter (2015), and Respawn: Gamers, Hackers, and Technogenic Life (2018), as well as many other books and articles about the impacts of science fiction and popular media on the history of science.

Selected Publications

  • “This World Which Is Not One: Superhero Comics and Other Dimensions of Reference,” co-authored with Mark Jerng, in Practices of Speculation, eds. Jeanne Cortiel, Christine Hantke, Jan Hutte, and Colin Milburn (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2020), pp. 243-274.
  • “The Future at Stake: Modes of Speculation in The Highest Frontier and Microbiology: An Evolving Science,” in Posthuman Biopolitics: The Science and Fiction of Joan Slonczewski, ed. Bruce Clarke (New York: Palgrave, 2020).
  • “Red Dot Sight,” co-authored with Rita Raley, in The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk, eds. Bishnu Ghosh and Bhaskar Sarkar (New York: Routledge, 2020).
  • “Cyberpunk Activism,” in The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture, eds. Anna McFarlane, Lars Schmeink, and Graham Murphy (London: Routledge, 2019), 373-381.
  • “Ahead of Time: Gerald Feinberg and the Governance of Futurity,” Osiris 34 (2019): 216-237.
  • “Postmortem: The Necrosis of Nanotechnology,” in Evolution Haute Couture: Art and Science in the Postbiological Age, ed. Dmitry Bulatov (Moscow National Center for Contemporary Art, 2013), pp. 448-467.
  • “Greener on the Other Side: Science Fiction and the Problem of Green Nanotechnology,” Configurations 20 (2012): 53-87.
  • “Modifiable Futures: Science Fiction at the Bench,” Isis 101 (2010): 560-569.
  • “Science from Hell: Jack the Ripper and Victorian Vivisection,” in Science Images and Popular Images of the Sciences, eds. Bernd Huppauf and Peter Weingart (Routledge, 2007), pp. 125-158.
  • “Syphilis in Faerie Land: Edmund Spenser and the Syphilography of Elizabethan England,” Criticism 46 (2004): 396-632.
  • “Monsters in Eden: Darwin and Derrida,” MLN 118 (2003): 603-621.


Professor Milburn teaches a variety of undergraduate courses that explore the intersections of science, literature, and media. His “Writing Science” course (STS 164/ENL 164) focuses on the role of texts and writing practices in the development of scientific knowledge. His “Science Fiction” course (STS 173/ENL 173) covers the history of science fiction as a literary and cinematic genre from the nineteenth century to the present, attending to the importance of imaginative narratives for scientific speculation and technological innovation. His “Video Games and Culture” course (STS 172/ENL 172/CDM 172) considers the impact of computer games and playable technologies on society, science, and the arts. He also frequently offers PhD-level seminars on topics such as “Literature and Science,” “Inventing the Posthuman,” and “Cyberpunk and Cyberculture.” 


UC Davis Dean’s Prize for Distinguished Contributions to the Liberal Arts and Sciences, 2020

UC Davis Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Education, 2017

Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship, 2015-2017

Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize (awarded for Mondo Nano), 2015

International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts Distinguished Scholar Award, 2015

UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship in the Humanities, 2012-2013

UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellowship, 2010-2015

Hellman Foundation Fellowship, 2008-2009