PhD – Comparative Literature, Stanford University

MA – Comparative Literature, Stanford University

BA – English and Philosophy, Middlebury College / Oxford University



2016 – 2020 – Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, Digital Content Strategy and Concept Design

2015-16 – Humboldt Forum Staff Unit, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Media Concept and Planning for the Humboldt Forum


2013-14 – q-bus Mediatektur GmbH, Berlin, Senior Concept Designer

2012-13 – zweimaleins, Berlin, now Saatchi & Saatchi Pro, Creative Director for Concept

2009-2012 – Activeark Oy, now Miruna, Helsinki, Copywriter and Concept Designer


2021 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft – Seminar on Digital Concept and Cultural Production

2017-2019 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hermann von Helmholz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik – Seminars in the Program Vielfalt der Wissensformen (Diversity of Knowledge Forms)

2015-2017 Technische Universität Braunschweig, Institut für architekturbezogene Kunst – Foundations course workshops, seminar and lecturing

2009-2012 Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, MA Program in Urban Studies – Yearly lecturing and workshops on literature, urbanism and contemporary critical art practices

2008-2011 Aalto University/TaiK, Helsinki, MA Graphic Design – Yearly courses in visual communication theory and social messaging. Multi-year consulting towards a master’s-level theory curriculum

2004-2008 Aalto University/TaiK MA Program in Environmental Art – Core program teaching in theory and practice; curriculum design and development

2004-2009 University of Helsinki, Dep’t of Art Research/Comparative Literature – Courses on experimental poetics, intermedia and the avant-garde

2001-2002  Adjunct Professor of English, Fresno City College, Fresno, CA – Writing and critical thinking, introduction to literature

2001-2002  Adjunct Professor of English, Madera Center Community College, Madera, CA – Writing and Critical Thinking, Intro to Literature

2000-2001  Teaching Assistant, English Department Stanford University

1996-1997  Instructor, Writing and Critical Thinking program, Stanford University

Languages:           German, French, Spanish, and Italian; moderate Finnish.


Visual Poetics: Meaning Space from Mallarmé to Metalheart : Stanford, Comparative Literature, 2004.

Develops a reception theory of visual poetries in terms of the perceptual and cognitive resources at their disposal, in particular spatiality as a body-based semantics.  Covering visual poetry and graphic design from 1897 to 2001 (print, digital, and architectural), it investigates the expanding role of 3-D space, and of embodied visual ‘reading’, in the experience of this work.  Combines methodologies from literary theory, art history, aesthetics, semiotics, psychology of perception, and cognitive linguistics.

Courses Taught:

2017-18 Humboldt Universität zu Berlin – Hermann von Helmholz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, bologna.lab, in the studies program Vielfalt der Wissensformen

Attention – interdisciplinary takes on an endangered resource

Visualizing Mind – a Seminar on Speculative Graphics and Epistemology

2015-2017 TU Braunschweig, Institute for Architecture-Related Art

Landing: some phenomenology for architecture-related artists (Summer 2016)
Architectural Body seminar (Summer 2016)

Space and Perception – sound workshop with Jost Muxfeldt (May 2016)

2004-2009 University of Helsinki – Department of Art Research/Comparative Literature

Cognitive Impact Poetics: 20th Century Experimental Poetries (Fall 2004)
Poetry at the Turning Point: Avant-Garde Resurgences in 1950’s Europe (Spring 2006)
Avant-Garde and Modernity: Art, Poetry, Theory (Fall 2007)
Total Poetics: Intermediality and Poetic Migrations (Fall 2009)

2004- 2008 University of Art and Design, Helsinki (TaiK), now Aalto U. – MA Program in Environmental Art

Masters Program co-development (w/ Prof. Markku Hakuri), MA research and thesis supervision, course core teaching, special studio theory courses (2004-2008)

Environmental Arts: Backgrounds – art-history survey of forms and trends 1950’s to 2000’s (2005, 2006)
Making Sense I: Artist Writing Seminar (2004, 2005, 2006)
Making Sense II: Critical Writing and Research Seminar (2005, 2006, 2007)
MA Thesis Supervision (2005-2007)
MA Thesis Research Seminar (2005, 2006)

Meaning Space: Introduction to Architectural Poetics – theory seminar on architectural poetics (2004)
Mental Environments – theory seminar on Situationist urbanism and critical art practices (2005)
Ultimate Space – Week-long environmental art workshop on Kuuskajaskari Island, Rauma (2005)
InnerCity – Applied Urban Aesthetics, full-year theory-studio (2005-2006)
BodyBuilding – Procedural Architecture and Embodiment, full-year theory-studio (2006-2007)

2008 – 2011 University of Art and Design, Helsinki (TaiK), now Aalto University – MA Program in Grafic Design

Thinking Graphics – MA-level theory-studio on perception, visual language and message design (2009, 2011)
Attention, Space and Meaning – 2-week workshop on “attention tracking” in design research (2008, 2009)

2006 – 2007 University of Art and Design, Helsinki – MA Program in Art Pedagogy

Free Advertising: a Liberation Graphics Workshop – Experimental EU 3-country virtual learning course (2007)
Stories and Places – Experimental virtual learning course, co-taught with Jan Kenneth Weckmann (2006)

2009 Universität der Künste, Berlin – Aesthetic Practices Program, Design Faculty

Text Bild Raum – 2 day-long workshops BA/MA on intermedial textuality as applied in spatial design

2009 – 2012 Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn – Urban Studies MA Program – Architecture Faculty

The City in Literature – half-semester course examining the urban engagement of literary movements

One thought on “CV

    andrew topel said:
    28/12/2013 at 13:34

    hello alan, how are you? i’d like to invite you to share essays with me for consideration in a book anthology of visual poetry & language arts that i’m editing. if interested, please write and i’ll share more information with you. thank you. have a beautiful day!

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