Patrick Keilty

Assistant Professor
Faculty of Information
University of Toronto 
140 St. George Street, Room 614
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G6
Phone: +1 (416) 946-3809
Email: p.keilty [at] utoronto [dot] ca
Twitter: @patrickkeilty


Patrick Keilty is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto and Instructor in the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies there. In addition, he is a Faculty Affiliate of the Centre for the Study of the United States, Senior Common Room Member at University College, and a member of the Program Committee for the Toronto Centre for the Book. He has previously been a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a PhD in Information Studies, concentration in Women's Studies (now Gender Studies), from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received additional education at the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University and the Art Center College of Design.

Upcoming talks:
March 7, 2014, iConference, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
March 22, 2014, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Seattle
April 16, 2014, The Women and Technology Conference, Carleton University, Ottawa (keynote)
May 15, 2014, Contours of Algorithmic Life, UC Davis

PhD students:
Rebecka Sheffield (supervisor)
Sandra Danilovic (supervisor)

Prof. Keilty's primary teaching and research field is culture and technology, with a particular focus on database logic, visual culture, gender, sexuality, and critical theory, particularly phenomenology. With Rebecca Dean, he is co-editor of Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader (2013). He has or will have published in Scholar & Feminist Online, The Information Society, Knowledge Organization, and Proceedings of the iConference; and he has presented at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Women and Technology Conference, Congress on Research in Dance, American Society for Information Science & Technology, Thinking Gender, and the Los Angeles Queer Studies Conference. He teaches courses on feminist and queer technology, critical theory, and metadata.

Keilty's monograph project, Database Desire, considers how embodied engagements with labyrinthine qualities of database design – including algorithms, data modeling, and visual displays – mediate aesthetic objects and structure sexual desire. Whereas databases are popularly seen as expressions of instrumental rationality, Keilty relies on existential phenomenology to demonstrate the way ostensibly “ineffectual” database design – which produces a flood of images and an enormous range of selection that seem to promise satisfaction, an appearance of getting what one wants but in excess of it – occasions certain embodied habits that structure desire in repetitive and recursive ways, and suspend temporal linearity, Euclidean space, and teleological narrative. Our ability to store vast amounts of data – to classify, index, hyperlink, browse, and retrieve it – leads to new kinds of narratives, alternative story constructs, and new ways to structure our relationship to the world and others. These kinds of encounters with database technology abound with expressive possibilities. Such encounters with technology do not adhere easily to the reductionist and behaviorist modes of description that have long dominated studies of human-computer interaction. By emphasizing the ways in which our bodies, in addition to conscious, reflective thought, engage with computer technologies, Keilty shows that databases and their attendant network of communication (including televisual, audiovisual, cinematic, and photographic) are part of our lives and help constitute our embodied existence in ways that are socially pervasive and profoundly personal. Computer technologies are never merely used, never merely instrumental. It is, therefore, not an exaggeration to say that encounters with the objective phenomena of computer technologies transform us as embodied subjects and alter our subjectivity.