I am an experienced academic and communications professional with interests in robots, AI, science fiction and war.
My achievements to date include a published novel, The Darkest Hour, alongside book chapters on 1960s science fiction and the film Blade Runner 2049. I am also an active member of several research networks including TTAC21, and academic podcast, In The Zone.
Away from academia, I have worked in a number of communications and marketing-based roles including professional ghostwriter, content writer and web editor in sectors as diverse as healthcare, video games and higher education. I have also managed several key web projects at Lancaster University and CCCU. If you have any questions about my experience, or availability, please get in touch.
October 2016 to January 2020 – Lancaster University, Lancaster
- Interdisciplinary AHRC-funded research project completed in minimum term (three years)
- Supervised by Professor Arthur Bradley and Dr Brian Baker
- Examined by Dr Mark Lacy and Dr Will Slocombe
- Thesis title: ‘Citizen Robots: Biopolitics, the Computer, and the Vietnam Period’
The Vietnam War coincided with an intense period of technological change that marked a significant turning point in the relationship between the citizen and the state. While Michel Foucault describes Vietnam as ‘the gates of our world’, my thesis argues that Vietnam stands rather as the gates of our biopolitical world – a period in which Foucault’s original concept of biopolitics is reborn in the computer age. It reads technological, social and political developments alongside key works of American science fiction literature published during the Vietnam period (1955–1975). In doing so, it charts how human subjects are complicit in the means of their own oppression, and the ethical implications of the blurred line between the human and the machine.
Sept 2012 to Sept 2014 – Brunel University, Uxbridge
- Awarded a Distinction at Masters level.
- Received an A+ for my dissertation: ‘The Compliance Function: Participation and Transgression in Flowers for Algernon and Robinson Crusoe‘.
- Professor William Watkin described my dissertation as the ‘best dissertation I have marked on an MA program at Brunel‘.
Sept 2007 to July 2010 – Brunel University, Uxbridge
- First Class Honours Degree.
- Won the ‘Gompertz Prize for English’.
- Co-founder of the Brunel Writers’ Society and treasurer of the Brunel Rock Society.
- Candidate in the university executive elections for Media Officer 2008/09.
- Received excellence awards at the Brunel Student Volunteering Awards in both 2009 and 2010.
Sept 2004 to July 2006 – Thanet College, Broadstairs
- A-Levels in Maths (A) and Physics (A)
- AS-Levels in English (A) and Film Studies (A)
Sept 2002 to July 2004 – Dane Court Grammar School, Broadstairs
- A-Levels in History (A), Government and Politics (B), Business and Economics (B) and General Studies (A)
- AS-Level in Sociology (A)
- 11 GCSEs A–C (7 A*, 2 A, 2 B)
Books, book chapters and articles
- ‘War Stories’, in Fuzzy Revolutions (forthcoming 2021) [book chapter]
- ‘The Final Frontier’, in Fuzzy Revolutions (forthcoming 2021) [book chapter]
- ‘EMSIAC Wars: Reinserting the Human in Bernard Wolfe’s Limbo’, Extrapolation (2020) [article]
- ‘Lessons from science fiction: Frederik Pohl and the robot prosumer’, Journal of Consumer Culture (2020) [article]
- ‘The Trouble with Joi’, in Blade Runner 2049 and Philosophy (2019) [book chapter]
- ‘Microfascism and the Double Exclusion in Flowers for Algernon’, Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction (Spring 2019) [article]
Submitted and currently in review
- ‘Conscripts From Birth: War and Soldiery in the Grim Darkness of the Far Future’, Fantastika Journal [article]
- ‘Good Practice Guide for Student Experience (GPG#45)’, ed. by M.J. Ryder, Association of University Administrators [guide]
- Widely published in the healthcare press, including: Dentistry, The Probe, DH&T, Private Dentistry, PPD, GP Magazine, Management in Practice, Practice Business
- Ghostwriter of The E-Myth Dentist (ISBN: 978-1618350251) [book]
- The Darkest Hour (2018) [novel]
[Note: All teaching at Lancaster University, unless otherwise stated.]
ENGL100 – English Literature
- One class of up to 12 students over two terms (two years)
- Engaged students in debates around key topics in literary studies
- Produced bespoke teaching materials on essay writing and research strategies, including including lecture slides and handouts
- Used student feedback to introduce ‘mini-lectures’ for 10 minutes at the end of seminars on topics from essay writing to referencing and how to conduct research
MKTG101 – Introduction to Marketing
- Four classes of 20 students over three terms
- Collaborated with teaching staff to ensure teaching consistency across the course
- Applied real-world experiences to marketing case studies, encouraging students to engage with marketing theory and question the way things are done
MNGT110 – Introduction to Management
- Two classes of 20 students fortnightly for two hour sessions
- Led discussion around academic papers and their application to real-life scenarios
- Facilitated group work around management case studies, linking theory to practice
MNGT120 – Business and Management: An Introduction to Theory and Practice
- Two classes of 20 students over two terms, plus additional exam marking
- Marked and moderated numerous group project presentations
- Provided pastoral support and informal mentoring for several students struggling to settle in
MKTG222 – Marketing Fundamentals
- Marked up to 150 in-class tests (x2), plus exams for second year module on the Total Product and consumer behaviour
MNGT222 – Work-Based Learning
- Marking 50 essays on second year module that immediately precedes students spending a year in industry
MKTG233 – Digital Marketing
- Three seminar classes running lab-style demonstrations on the digital analytics platform Comscore
MNGT322B – Work-Based Learning
- One class of 15 final-year students fortnightly over two terms
- Encouraged students to think critically about their year in industry and build up a personal portfolio of practice, write a reflective essay, and deliver a presentation on their experience
ENGL419M and ENGL149LS – Research Methodology and Reflective Practice in English Literature
- Mentored postgraduate students on the English Literary Studies MA
- Facilitated interactive group activities to meet course objectives
MK4526(L7) – Research Methods for the Digital World (University of Central Lancashire)
- Masters module delivered online for the University of Central Lancashire over 11 weeks.
- Guided learners through theoretical and practical issues of using the internet in professional and academic research.
MKTG500 – Marketing Skills Development
- Marked up to 100 essay submissions for Lancaster University’s MSc in Marketing, providing detailed feedback and guidance on essay writing at Masters level
MKTG510 – Deep Dive Dissertation
- Supervising 12 students on the MSc in Marketing
- Designed and ran Taster Day sessions for Lancaster University Management School, June 2020.
- Recorded a video lecture/seminar for Lancaster’s Summer School programme, July 2020.
- Delivered two careers lectures to sociology students at Canterbury Christ Church University
- Ran workshops on digital marketing for academics at several conferences including the NWCDTP’s annual postgraduate conference (2017), and Embodying Fantastika (2019)
- Managed a team of writers as part of my job role at EK Communications Ltd where I trained new team members and provided mentorship and support on how to work with clients and meet the varied demands of professional writing
- Conducted peer observation of teaching by various members of the Management School at Lancaster, and was myself observed in several classes including English Literature and Work-Based Learning
- Completed the course ‘Introduction to Teaching at Lancaster’ (Oct 2019)
- Completed Lancaster University’s Associate Teacher Programme (2019-2020). As part of this course I created an extensive portfolio spanning some 15k words, featuring teaching observations, an annotated bibliography, student feedback and various reflective commentaries.
- Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) [now Advance HE].
- Embodying Fantastika, Lancaster University (Aug 2019)
- Postgraduate Research Conference, Lancaster University (May 2018)
- Exploring Identity: Between Being and Belonging, University of Liverpool (Oct 2017)
- ‘Conscripts from birth: war and soldiery in grim darkness of the far future’
Embodying Fantastika, Lancaster University (Aug 2019)
- ‘Performance, Gender and the Trouble with Joi’
Current Research in Speculative Fiction, University of Liverpool (Jun 2019)
- ‘The gates of our world: Vietnam and the (re)birth of biopolitics’
Human Technologies, Digital Humanities, University of Salford (Oct 2018)
- ‘Exclusions through time: Charlie Gordon and the biopolitical paradigm’
After Fantastika, Lancaster University (Jul 2018)
- ‘The Literature of Drones: Ethics and Remote Killing in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game’
Current Research in Speculative Fiction, University of Liverpool (Jun 2018)
- ‘War and the satire of the body: The Vol-Amp movement in Bernard Wolfe’s Limbo’
The Human Body and World War II, University of Oxford (Mar 2018)
- ‘Artificial Identity: AI Subjectivity in the Far Future’
Exploring Identity: Between Being and Belonging, University of Liverpool (Oct 2017)
- ‘Beyond the Horizon: Law, Exception and Conflict in Outer Space’
Iredell Law Conference, Lancaster University (Jul 2017)
- ‘“Future Soldiers”: the Soldier, the Citizen and the State’
Current Research in Speculative Fiction, University of Liverpool (Jun 2017)
Hosted training workshop
- ‘Building your digital profile’
Embodying Fantastika, Lancaster University (Aug 2019)
- ‘Digital Marketing for Academics’
Exploring Identity: Between Being and Belonging, University of Liverpool (Oct 2017)
For more information on my conference activities please see my page on conferences and workshops.
I am frequently published in The Conversation, and my work has been re-published in the national press including:
- ‘Science Faction?’, Mensa, November 2019
- ‘Insurance black boxes and the surveillance state’, The Scotsman, 31 July 2019
- ‘VAR: In football, as in war, sometimes we need a human touch’, Metro, 26 June 2019
- ‘Killer robots are not science fiction’, Independent, 9 April 2019
- ‘Evil genius: Fly, my pretties, fly!’, The IET, 2 August 2019
- ‘Scientists create DNA robots that eat and EVOLVE’, Daily Star, 4 May 2019
- ‘The Introduction of VAR’, TBS eFM (Seoul, South Korea), 19 August 2019
- ‘DNA-based robots’, talkRADIO, 12 May 2019
Blogs and podcasts
- Numerous research blogs posted on: mjryder.net/category/research
- Blogs on technology, terrorism and armed conflict research posted on: ttac21.net
- Guest blogs on Let’s Talk Academia: letstalkacademia.blogspot.com
- More than 45 podcasts published on: inthezonepodcast.com
For more information, see my page on academic engagement.
Funding and academic awards
- Awarded £1,100 by the NWCDTP’s Cohort Development Fund towards the delivery of the conference ‘Embodying Fantastika’ at Lancaster University, 8th–10th August 2019
- Fully-funded AHRC PhD studentship for three years, including £14,000 per annum and fees paid in full, October 2016 to July 2019
- Won the ‘Gompertz Prize for English’ for attainment in my undergraduate degree at Brunel University 2010
- Lancaster University Staff Award – ‘Outstanding Achievement’ (2019) [nominated]
- Lancaster Gold Award (2019)
- Student Employee of the Year – ‘Above and Beyond’ (2017) [regional winner]
- Authors including (but not limited to): Heinlein, Dick, Le Guin, Pohl, Asimov, Clarke, Vonnegut, Keyes, Disch, Butler, Delany, Verne, Wells
Vietnam and the Cold War
- History, social impact, cause and consequences
- Technology and social change
- Bare life, state of exception, inclusions and exclusions
- Theorists including (but not limited to): Agamben, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Badiou
- Autonomy and responsibility
- Drones and AWS
Business, Management and Marketing
- Consumer culture / consumption
- McDonaldization and de-McDonaldization
- Technology, mass production, Fordism, automation, social media
Feedback from English Literature students, collected 3rd December 2019:
- ‘Highlight of my week’
- ‘Really enjoyed the discussions’
- ‘[You] are very good at picking up on words / interesting ideas raised and guiding the discussion to places we don’t expect’
- ‘Really like my seminar group and tutor’
- ‘You are lovely to be around and it is genuinely the highlight of my week’
- ‘Engaging sessions’
Message from one of my Management students, received 16th June 2019:
- ‘I just wanted to thank you for all your support and help through the year. Its been really helpful.’
July 2020 to September 2020 – University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)
- Consultancy work for UCLan to support the launch of the new university website in Contensis CMS. Work involved much stakeholder engagement, project planning and content writing, alongside technical implementation of requirements in order to meet the very tight deadline.
January 2020 to July 2020 – Lancaster University
- Contract work building and updating websites for the nine colleges at Lancaster University, in the CMS, Terminal Four.
June 2017 to Present (part-time remote working)
February 2016 to September 2016 (full-time) – Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU)
- Communications Officer for the IT department at CCCU. In this role I completely overhauled the IT department’s communications, from its online presence to its print marketing materials and digital displays. I am particularly proud of my work on the department’s internal staff-facing website where I used my GA skills to improve user journeys, while also creating a series of web forms to assist the service desk with internal support requests. This work led to a significant increase in engagement, with pageviews and average time on page up >25%. IT student-facing web-pages for the month of September 2016 were up 400% year-on-year.
- Key skills: content auditing; report writing; communications plans; Google Analytics; copywriting; stakeholder engagement; blogging.
- In June 2017 I was reappointed on a part-time basis, working remotely while I continue my PhD studies at Lancaster.
November 2016 to June 2019 – Lancaster University
- Working with the Student Communications team at Lancaster University to produce a targeted weekly newsletter for students.
- Edited and co-authored a ‘good practice guide’ for the AUA.
- Voted a regional winner in the Student Employee of the Year awards 2017.
- Rebuilt the majority of the University’s college websites using the University CMS, Terminal Four.
- Also created new websites for the Chaplaincy Centre, Educational Development, Methods@Lancaster and the Institute for Curriculum Enhancement.
- Organised communications campaign for National Student Money Week, April-May 2018.
September 2017 to September 2018 – Lancaster University
- Assistant Dean in Lancaster University’s Graduate College, helping with the smooth running of the College, assisting at events and maintaining College discipline.
- Helped organise and run the Postgraduate Research Conference 2018 including the production of a pre-conference newsletter and a post-conference report booklet shared with key University stakeholders.
March 2014 to February 2016 – Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU)
- Web Editor for the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences at CCCU. A multi-faceted role, I was initially taken on to oversee the launch of a full set of new web pages ready for the launch of the new Faculty website in August 2014. This project was delivered on time, and exactly to specification, ahead of any other Faculty within the University, and with two months’ less time than any other Web Editor to complete the task. I subsequently completed a comprehensive review project, working to further enhance Faculty pages, and maintain the Faculty as the benchmark for web content within the University.
- In addition to the above, I was also involved in many elements of digital marketing, sharing my expertise in areas such as social media, blogging, PPC and SEO, with the aim of raising the University’s overall digital profile. I also took on responsibility for the UK Institute for Migration Research (UK-IMR) website.
- Key skills: digital marketing; stakeholder engagement; project management; information architecture; copywriting; social media; blogs; Contensis CMS; WordPress CMS; Google Analytics; Adobe Photoshop; Adobe Premiere Pro; YouTube; Microsoft OneNote.
August 2011 to March 2014 – EK Communications Ltd (EKC)
- Senior Writer / Journalist for a PR and marketing agency that specialises in the dental sector. Tasks included ghostwriting feature articles for the national trade press, interviewing clients, completing call-sheets, attending trade shows and events, and supervising / managing the work of junior writers and freelancers. I also worked with one of our clients to ghost-write a book.
- Key skills: management; detailed market knowledge; verbal and written communication; writing to deadlines; interviewing; reporting; copywriting.
Oct 2010 to May 2011 – ChangYou.com
- Content Writer for free-to-play MMO publisher ChangYou.com. Work included writing news posts, compiling newsletters, blogging, proof-reading, dealing with content requests, creating a staff style guide, and working to re-write and enhance website content. My role also quickly expanded to include significant work in PR, Marketing, QA, Community Management, and Localisation.
- Key skills: detailed and comprehensive product knowledge; WordPress CMS; project management; organisation; inter-departmental communication; writing for specific audiences; community awareness; copy-writing.
November 2008 to Present
- I started this website way back in November 2008 as a way of enhancing my ‘digital footprint’, while also teaching myself valuable skills. Over the years this website has been through several different iterations, originally starting out as a custom-built site on MODx CMS, and more recently, moving on to WordPress.
- Key skills: MODx CMS; WordPress CMS; working knowledge of HTML/XHTML (all self-taught); copy-writing; blogging; web editing; and social networking skills including Facebook and Twitter.
For a brief history of MJRyder.net, see the blog I wrote to celebrate the site’s 10-year anniversary.
December 2007 to June 2010
- Most published writer in the magazine for three years running.
- Entered into the Guardian Student Media Awards 2009 in the ‘Columnist of the Year’ category, and 2010 in the ‘Writer of the Year’ category.
- Work included liaising with writers and union officials, and organising features.
- Official Game Admin: Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun.
- Forum Administrator: www.strike-team.net.
- Forum Administrator / Community Manager: www.cncevo.info.
- Forum Administrator: www.gamerwarzone.com.
- Global Moderator: www.cncwarzone.com
For more information please see my gaming C.V.
- Website development work for various individuals including pianist and composer, Dominic Downs.
- Volunteer Admin Assistant: St Mark’s Church, Ramsgate [approx one year].
- Volunteer: Pilgrims Hospice ‘Old Bank Book Shop’, Margate [one month].
- Sales Assistant (Book Department): WHSmiths Ramsgate [approx three years].