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Announcing Palah Light Lab 23/24

The Palah Light Lab is excited to share our plans for Spring and Fall 2023 with more information forthcoming. Our Lab Leads this year include Rachid Benharrousse, Jocelyn E. Marshall, and Sarah Sgro and we are grateful for their leadership and visions for the lab this year. Their bios are below. 

Based between the University at Buffalo and The New School, our new cohort includes returning fellows from UB and other campuses, new fellows from The New School’s Media Studies MA and Creative Writing MFA, and a small group of invited fellows who have previously collaborated with Palah. Projects and events this semester include a Palah blog and podcast, a reading celebrating the release of Huan He’s The Sandman with George Abraham and Sarah Sgro, an end-of-semester critical-creative symposium, and more.  

If you are interested in participating in public events and hearing about our next call for cohort members, please fill out the contact form below. Thank you for your interest and please be in touch if there are any questions. Check out this space for further information and announcements! 


Sarah Sgro, Managing Editor of PLL Blog and Research Assistant Liaison

Sarah Sgro is a PhD candidate in English at the University at Buffalo where she studies the relationship between digital waste and queer digital futures. She is the author of the full-length poetry collection If The Future Is A Fetish (YesYes Books 2019) and received her MFA from the University of Mississippi. Her work appears in Annulet: A Journal of Poetics, BOAAT, The Offing, and other publications. 

Jos (Jocelyn E. Marshall), Director of Programming

Jocelyn E. Marshall is Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Writing, Literature, & Publishing at Emerson College. Their scholarly and curatorial projects focus on contemporary U.S.-based women and LGBTQ+ artists, researching the relationships between intertextual practice, displaced positionality, and traumatic experience. Her critical and creative work have appeared in the Journal of American Culture, Public Art Dialogue, Tripwire: A Journal of Poetics, Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, and elsewhere. Some recent projects include: Being In-Between / In-Between Being (2020-21), a virtual exhibition and event series; Trauma-Informed Pedagogy: Addressing Gender-based Violence in the Classroom (Emerald Publishing, 2022), a collection co-edited with Dr. Candace Skibba; the Feminist Interview Project Series at Art Journal Open, co-edited with Dr. Katherine Guinness; and the 2023 Rejoinder journal issue on “Textual-Sexual-Spiritual: Artistic Practice and Other Rituals as Queer Becoming and Beyond.”

Rachid Benharrousse, Research Director

Rachid Benharrousse is a Doctoral Candidate at Mohammed V University in Rabat. He was an Early Career Researcher at the Association of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies (AMEWS), and a Research participant of Digital Studies at Digital Self-Determination Research Sprint at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University. Benharrousse was an Early Career Researcher at the African Academy for Migration Research (AAMR) at the University of Witwatersrand, a Researcher at the Palah Light Lab at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and a Research Collaborator at the Paris Institute for Critical Thinking (PICT). 

Contact Form:

Announcing Glitch/Want: Conversations From the Palah Light Lab

We warmly invite you to GLITCH/WANT: CONVERSATIONS FROM THE PALAH LIGHT LAB held this Friday, June 11th. GLITCH/WANT features the exciting work of the Palah Light Lab cohort members in impromptu/informal panels. These panel conversations aim to ask and prompt questions across the diverse materials and projects as lab members’ work GLITCH-ES hegemonic ideologies and demonstrates WANT. While organized for generative dialogue with cohort members, we warmly welcome outside guests as interlocutors and allies to engage with the presentations and join the conversations with us.  



1:00 PM EST – Brief Welcome – Margaret Rhee, Cody Mejeur, Blair Johnson 

Panel one – 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm (moderated by Margaret Rhee)

Title: Queer and Trans Songs, Readers, Memories, and Poetry

name + brief description bio
Azalia Muchransyah – hybrid documentary film / Attention at Tension (2020, desktop documentary, 8m52s) or Tamu (2018, mockumentary, 14m51s) (tbc)Azalia Muchransyah is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and scholar from Indonesia. She received her Ph.D. in Media Study from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (SUNY) in 2021. Her research interests revolve around the intersections of media study, film study, film production, documentary and its hybrid forms, HIV study, feminist study, and activism, specifically in Indonesia. Her films have been officially selected and screened in international film festivals and academic conferences.
Charlie Best – video, media, drawing, and fabric mediums, expressing the nonbinary imagination+more Charlie Best (they/he) is an artist, sometimes teacher, and sometimes sewist still figuring things out. They are from the Western New York region and currently reside in Providence, RI. 
Rachid – E-literature, the reader, and the literary possibilities Rachid Benharrousse is a doctoral candidate of Cultural Studies at the Mohammed V University of Rabat, a Research Fellow of New Media and Digital Studies at the University at Buffalo, Research Fellow at War, Conflict & Global Migration at Global Research Network, an Early Career Researcher at AMEWS, and a Research Collaborator at the Paris Institute for Critical Thinking. He was recently a researcher in the Digital Self-Determination Research Sprint at Berkman Klein Center & Digital Asia Hub, Harvard University. His research interests encompass New Media Studies, Game Studies, Postcolonialism, Cultural Studies, Digital Studies, and Diasporic Literature.
Jocelyn E. Marshall: posthumousbirds, hybrid poetry-creative nonfiction collectionJocelyn E. Marshall is the 2021-2022 Dissertation Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center and an English doctoral candidate at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her work focuses on queer and womxn artists working at the intersections of traumatic experience, displacement, and gender and sexuality studies. Jocelyn’s scholarly and creative work have appeared or are forthcoming in the Journal of American Culture, Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature in Context (ABC-CLIO LLC, 2021), Tripwire: A Journal of Poetics, Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry (Sibling Rivalry Press), Strange Stories Vol. 1 (Forty-Two Books, 2019), and elsewhere. Currently, Jocelyn serves on the College Art Association’s Committee on Women in the Arts and is co-editing a volume on trauma-informed pedagogy with Candace Skibba (Emerald Publishing, 2022).
Huan He – PoetryHuan He (he/him/his) is a queer Asian/American writer and gamer based in Los Angeles. He is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His research engages Asian/American studies, media and technology studies, visual culture, digital game studies, and poetics. He also writes poetry that explores race, sexuality, intimacy, and belonging from the perspective of a queer Chinese American raised by the prairies. His critical writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in American Quarterly, College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies, and Media-N. His poetry is forthcoming in wildness, Alaska Quarterly Review, and DIALOGIST.
George – poetry George Abraham (they/he) is a Palestinian american poet and writer from Jacksonville, FL. Their debut collection Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020) won the Big Other Book Award, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry. He is a board member for the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI), a recipient of fellowships from Kundiman and The Boston Foundation, and winner of the 2017 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational’s Best Poet title. Their work has appeared in The Nation, The American Poetry Review, The Baffler, The Paris Review, Mizna, and elsewhere. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard University, Abraham currently teaches at Emerson College, and will be a Litowitz MFA+MA Candidate at Northwestern University in the fall. 

Panel two – 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm

Title: Personalities, Affect, and Games (moderated by Cody Mejeur)

name + brief description  bio
jess erion – Rhubarb Roastery trailer (and maybe a bonus surprise)Jess Erion (any pronouns) is a writer and game designer with an academic background in literature and anticolonialism. They are a recent alum of the NYU Game Center’s MFA program, and they studied at Harvard during undergrad. Currently, Jess is working as an editor at Red Thread Games while also developing the upcoming indie mobile game Rhubarb Roastery. 
Jordan Clapper – Twine game and Indigenous games researchJordan Clapper is a doctoral student in English at Brandeis University. They study Indigenous literature and video games and the queering effects these media have on the narratives they tell and the spaces they inhabit. They are looking to make games from an intersection of queerness and indigeneity as a way to promote Indigenous futurity. They are also studying the complicated ways that Indigenous identities manifest off the reservation.
Joan Nobile: “No Lone Wolves”, short documentary, 14:15Joan Nobile, as an emerging artist, has explored feminism, harassment, marginalized representation in media, media literacy & critique, and mental illness through her body of work. Her mediums include video games, glitch art, documentary, audio production, live video production, and video essays. She is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Media Art Production at University at Buffalo. She lives and works in Buffalo, NY with her partner and lots of books.

Panel three + final reception – 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Title: Digital Memories, Mars, and AI Afterlives (moderated by Blair Johnson)

name + brief description   bio
Sarah Sgro – poetry // introducing future collaborative multimedia projectSarah Sgro is a PhD Candidate in English at the University at Buffalo and received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Mississippi. She is the author of If the Future is a Fetish (YesYes Books 2019) and has published work in Peach Mag, Cosmonauts Avenue, BOAAT, and other journals. Her research interests include queer theory, the non/human, and digital and electronic waste.
Hanyu Liao – intro presentation + videoHanyu Liao is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher who is currently pursuing a practice-based PhD in the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo. Liao received her BA in Information Design, Tsinghua University, China; MFA in Digital+Media, Rhode Island School of Design; and Interdisciplinary MA in Humanities with a concentration in Film and Media Study and a secondary academic area in Art at University at Buffalo. With the bicultural and multi-disciplinary background, her artistic practice is diverse in medium and context, while unmistakably keeping its concept-driven quality. 
Evan Moritz – poetry // a live performance of a poem about the Martian Soli Sanus Project.Evan Moritz (he/him) recently received his MA in theatre and performance at University at Buffalo and is an incoming PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Center for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. He is interested in the outer limits of science-fiction and fact with research focused on performance in Martian settlements of the near future. This work explores the relationship between colonization of planetary bodies, historic settler epistemes, the loss of liveness in the communication gaps between planets, global catastrophe on Earth and off, and more broadly, the sad or depressing aspects of the future.
Morgan Sammut – interactive fiction piece on twine based on Galatea, sffMorgan Sammut is an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College, pursuing a degree in English with a minor in Computer Science. Her interests include electronic literature, video games, and hybrid writing. She is working on two projects currently, a Twine piece and a digital reimagining of Frankenstein

As a queer feminist media lab based out of the University at Buffalo Media Study Department, the lab hosts an invited annual cohort of graduate students and independent artists and scholars of queer feminist new media arts drawn nationally and internationally. In doing so, we aim to generate artistic, scholarly, and political conversations, community, and collective possibilities for social change inside and outside academic boundaries. Please see the detailed program and fliers for further information and the framing context of our conversations this Friday. 

Trans Folks Walking Alpha Demo Release

By Blair Johnson and Cody Mejeur

Palah Light Lab is excited to share the first public release of the alpha demo of Trans Folks Walking, consisting of its first playable level.

The player of Trans Folks Walking enters the space to a familiar scene: two swinging bathroom doors on either side of an industrial drinking fountain, each door clearly labeled with the standard blue sign for women and men. We’re in a library, it’s finals week, and the voice tells us that “trying to use the bathroom here when it’s so busy is scary. I don’t know which one to use.” As the player lingers in the hallway, trying to choose between these binary options, the inner voice offers more hypotheticals, accompanied by a foreboding and urgent score. 

Trans Folks Walking, a first-person narrative anthology game designed in Unity, creates a sense of space and embodiment as it is experienced by a trans character. The first level, in which the player character is put in the position of having to choose between two binary options for bathrooms in a college library, narrates the complexity and vulnerability of navigating this space. No matter which choice we make as a player, the anxiety and fear persists — a feeling which is made palpable through the game’s inner monologue and score. 

The game was included in an exhibition highlighting empathetic games developed by students at MSU, titled “Future Present: Design in a Time of Urgency,” an exhibit that ran during September 2020 curated by the Science Gallery Detroit. Trans Folks Walking  was created  in collaboration with the Empathic Games Initiative in the Department of Media & Information at Michigan State University, and is being further developed with support from the Mellon Foundation and UB’s Digital Scholarship Studio and Network

Palah Light Lab co-director and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Media Study, Cody Mejeur, is the project lead for Trans Folks Walking. Cody initially started the game in 2019 based in part on their research with queer games and their narratives and with the desire to increase opportunities for games made by and for queer and trans peoples. A major goal and commitment for the project is to invite community members to contribute their own stories to the anthology and have an active role in what those stories look like in the game–in other words, for trans players and community members to tell their stories as they want them to be told (and played!). The team currently includes Ronny Ford (MSU, project manager, narrative designer), Famous Clark (UB, programmer, level designer), Wes Turner (independent artist, environment designer), and Austin Wilson (MSU, composer, sound designer). Working on the game together has been an encouraging and hopeful experience in what games can be when they center community, care, and creating and sharing together across difference. 

The game will eventually include a series of levels in different spaces, and form a collection of short stories and experiences, ranging from the broad, as in the bathroom level, to the specific — the next level, for example, will center on being trans in a Christian church. The team describes the game as “[creating] space for trans folks to share their stories and for players to experience small parts of what it means to be trans. The game is intentionally designed as an anthology of short experiences that will grow in collaboration with trans people and their communities.” Another future level will focus on the experience of visiting a doctor’s office, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond these few levels, the team welcomes people interested in the project and potential collaborators to reach out with ideas for expanding the collection moving forward. 

For those interested in playing the first level, the alpha release demo can be found at The team welcomes feedback from all and ideas for stories, levels, and experiences from trans folks in particular. They can best be reached by contacting Cody Mejeur at or Ronny Ford at

Screenshot of Trans Folks Walking