About TIA House

The Insurgent Architects' House for Creative Writing (TIA House) at the University of Calgary is a Canada Research Chair-sponsored initiative structured through the interactions of social justice, futurity, and innovative aesthetics in creative writing. Recognizing the instabilities of language articulated through the poststructural turn on the one hand, and the importance of embodied liberatory movements on the other, TIA House looks to a re-imagined concept of utopia to begin to imagine new forms and new creative practices embedded in a respect for the earth, Indigeneity, and for those inhabiting marginalized subject positions. Specifically, we take up David Harvey's notion of the "insurgent architect" as a figure who desires and works for a better world, while constantly taking into account mutations, surprises and unexpected contingencies that can erupt on any level and at any moment. We live in and through speculative action, with a readiness to take risks that could undo us at any moment.

In practice, this means the embrace of many different kinds of writing practice including but not limited to: speculative fiction, ficto-criticism, innovative poetics, embodied writing, bio-text and non-standard forms of criticism.

Directed by Dr. Larissa Lai in the Department of English, TIA House serves to enable creative and critical discussion and production through a series of yearly events, readings, symposia, and roundtables. In 2020, TIA began a podcast series "TIA House Talks", hosted on this website.


Tier 2 Canada Research Chair positions serve to support new research and work by a Canadian scholars. These positions, supported by the Government of Canada, are held by “exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.”1 To date, Dr. Lai’s work has generated some 50 critical articles and books and has placed her at the forefront of Canadian writing and scholarship on futurity, speculation, subject formation, cultural production and community building in and through creative work.

1 Government of Canada. “Chairs.” Program Details. Web n.d. http://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/program-programme/index-eng.aspx.


larissa laiDr. Larissa Lai holds a Canada Research Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Calgary and is the author of three novels, When Fox Is a Thousand (winner of an Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers Award, shortlisted for the Books in Canada First Novel Award),  Salt Fish Girl (Tiptree Honor Book, shortlisted for the Sunburst Award and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Award), and The Tiger Flu (winner of a Lambda Literary Award, Tiptree Honor book, shortlisted for the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Prize). She has written two books of poetry, sybil unrest (with Rita Wong) and Automaton Biographies (shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize). Her critical monograph, Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s was a 2014 finalist for the ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism. In 2020, she received the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. She holds a PhD from the University of Calgary, an MA from the University of East Anglia, and a BA (Hon.) from the University of British Columbia.