V. N. Alexander

alexander (at) dactyl (dot) org

Director of Public Programs (1996-2011), Editor Dactyl Review (2010-present)

Victoria N. Alexander earned her Ph.D. in English at the Graduate Center, City University New York and did her dissertation research in teleology, evolutionary theory, and complexity science at the Santa Fe Institute. She is a novelist (Smoking Hopes, Naked Singularity, and Locus Amœnus). Her honors include a Rockefeller Foundation Residency (Bellagio, Italy), a Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women Fellowship, two Art & Science Lab Residencies (Santa Fe), Alfred Kazin Award for Best Dissertation (GC, CUNY), the Washington Prize for Fiction (Smoking Hopes) Dallas Observer‘s “Best of 2003” (Naked Singularity) and the Literary Fiction Book Review award (Locus Amœnus).

Alexander served a Public Scholar for the New York Council for the Humanities 2015-2018 and a Fulbright Scholar to Russia 2020. She is on the editorial board of Meaning Systems book series (Fordham UP).


Ph.D., English, The Graduate Center, City University New York. Dissertation title: Narrative Telos: The Ordering Tendencies of Chance. Fields of specialization: Narrative Theory, Philosophy of Science, and 20th Century Novels. Passed Oral Examinations with Academic Distinction.


2023  “Self-Reinforcing Cycles and Mistakes: The emergence of subjective meaning” In Pathways to the Origin and Evolution of Meanings in the Universe. Astrobiology Perspectives on Life of the Universe series. Eds. R. Gordon, J. Seckbach, A. Sharov. Wiley-Scrivener, forthcoming in December.

2023 “The Creativity of Cells: Aneural Irrational Cognition,” The Journal of Physiology, special issue on The Physiology of Evolution, edited by Denis Noble, forthcoming.  

2022 “When the immune system makes the wrong choice between incompatible options,” Tunne loodust! Knowing Nature in the Languages of Biosemiotics. In Epistemologica et historiographica linguistica Lausannensia No 4, Eds. Donald Favareau and Ekaterina Velmezova. Université de Lausanne

2022    «Случайность и цель» Методика: Московский ежегодник социальных исследований. Ред. Михаил Ильин и Иван Фомин. “Chance and Purpose,” In Method: Moscow Yearbook of Social Studies. Eds. Mikhail Ilyin and Ivan Fomin, 

2021    with J. Augustus Bacigalupi, “Creative Agency Via Higher-Dimensional Constraints.” Biosemiotics  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12304-021-09418-y

2021   with J. Augustus Bacigalupi and Oscar Castro Garcia, “Living systems are smarter bots: Slime mold semiosis versus AI symbol manipulation
,” BioSystems 206, in press.

2021      “Free-Range Humans: Permaculture Farming as a Biosemiosic Model for Political Organization,” In Food and Medicine: A Biosemiotic Perspective. Eds V. Y. Hendlin and J. Hope. Springer, 115-137.

2019       “AI, Stereotyping on Steroids and Alan Turing’s Biological Turn,” In The Democratization of Artificial Intelligence: Net Politics in the Era of Learning Algorithms. Ed., Andreas Sudmann. Bielefeld, Germany: transcript.

2019     “The Mechanism for Mimicry: Instant Biosemiotic Selection or Gradual Darwinian Fine-Tuning Selection?” Timo Maran and Karel Kleisner, eds. Biosemiotics, 7(3) 329-334.

2018/2019       “Siri fails the Turing Test: Computation, Biosemiosis and Artificial Life,”  Researches Semiotique/Semiotic Inquiry, 38(3)/39 (1-2), 231-249.

2017       with Valerie Grimes,  “Fluid Biosemiotic Mechanisms Underlie Subconscious HabitsBiosemiotics 10(3) 337–353.

2017      “The Art of Reciprocity and the Work of Don Favareau” in Biosemiotics in the community: Essays in honour of Donald Favareau. Kalevi Kull and Paul Cobley, eds. Tartu University Press, 75-77.

2017      with Kenneth Gross, Lindsay Waters,  Paul Auster, Harold Bloom, Stanley Fish, K. J. Knoespel, Mitchell Meltzer, Victoria Nelson, Joan Richardson, Dorion Sagan, Susan Stewart, Eric Wilson, Michael Wood. “A Florilegium for Angus Fletcher,” Los Angeles Review of Books. Feb 12.

2016      “Chance, Nature’s Practical Jokes, and the “Non-utilitarian Delights” of Butterfly Mimicry,” Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art. Eds. Stephen Blackwell and Kurt Johnson. New Haven: Yale University Press.

2016     “Papillons et feuilles mortes : une approche biosémiotique de la mimesis chez Nabokov” Fabula: et recherche en litterature. Paris, France. Translated by Pierre–Louis Patoine.

2014     “Nabokov, teleologie a hmyzi mimeze,” Krása a zvíře. Studie o vztahu estetických a etických hodnot zvířat. Eds. Ondřej Dadejík, Filip Jaroš, Martin Kaplický. Prague, Czech Republic: Dokoran, 2015. Translation of “Nabokov,Teleology, and Insect Mimicry” by Silvie Liskova and Martin Radl.

2014      “Toward a Definition of  Biosemiosic Chance,” in a special issue of Biosemiotics. VN Alexander, editor, with papers by Gennaro Auletta and Lluc Torcal, Stanley Salthe, Gerald Ostdiek, James Coffman, and Wendy Wheeler.

2014      “How does Cognition come from Chance?” in Charles S. Peirce in his own Words: 100 years of Semiotics, Communication and Cognition. Semiotic, Communication, and Cognition. Edited by Torkild Thellefsen and Bent Sorensen.Walter de Gruyter.

2013    “Creativity: Self-referential Mistaking, Not Negating,” Biosemiotics 6(2): 253-272.

2012     “Chance,” in A More Developed Sign: Advancing the Work of Jesper Hoffmeyer. Edited by Donald Favareau et al. Tartu Semiotics Library 10. Tartu: Tartu University Press.

2011     Review of Essential Readings in Biosemiotics: Anthology and Commentary by Donald Favareau. The Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (4) 412-414..

2011     The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature and Nature. Emergent Publications.

2010     Review of Death and Sex by Tyler Volk and Dorion Sagan. New York Journal of Books.

2010      with Stanley Salthe, “Monstrous Fate: The Problem of Authorship and Evolution by Natural Selection,” Annals of Scholarship 19 (1): 45-66.

2009      “The Poetics of Purpose,” Biosemiotics 2(1) (2009): 77-100.

2008      “The (Re)emergence of Language in Art,” Dialogues, New York: Jan Krugier Gallery.

2007       Review of Wendy Wheeler’s. The Whole Creature: Complexity, Biosemiotics and the Evolution of Culture. Configurations 14 (2007): 185-188.

2006       “C. S. Peirce’s Theory of Self-Organization and The Crying of Lot 49,” Pynchon Notes 52-53 (2006): 23-39.

2005      “Hopeful Monsters: Literary Teleology and EmergenceEmergence:Complexity & Organization 7 (2005): 95-104.

2004       Review of Angus Fletcher’s New Theory for American Poetry, in Style 39 (2004): 501-505.

2003      Nabokov,Teleology, and Insect Mimicry,Nabokov Studies 7 (2003): 177-213. Figures.

2002       Review of Brian Boyd’s Nabokov’s Pale Fire and the Magic of Artistic Discovery,  in Antioch Review 60 (Summer 2002): 530-531.

2001       “Neutral Evolution and Aesthetics: Vladimir Nabokov and Insect Mimicry,” Working Papers Series 01-10-057 (Santa  Fe: Santa Fe Institute, 2001).

1999       “Polonius and Poland, a Coincidence,” English Language Notes 36 (1999): 8-13.

1999       “Indeterminacy Revisited,” zingmagazine 5 (1999): 33-38.

1997       “Louis Begley: Trying to Make Sense of It, Antioch Review 55 (1997): 292-304.

1994       “Martin Amis: Between the Influences of Bellow and Nabokov,” Antioch Review 52 (1994): 580-590. reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism 101, ed. Deborah Stanley (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1997), 78-83.


2022      “The Narrative” and “Signs and Symbols,” short fiction, The Strange Recital.

2020      “The Walk” and “Winter Flies” (reprint), short fiction, The Strange Recital.

2020        “Chance that Mimics Choice,” Pangyrus LitMag

2019       “Winter Flies,” The Antioch Review

2015      Locus Amœnus (The Permanent Press, 2015.)

2003       Naked Singularity (The Permanent Press, 2003).

2000      “S,” murmur  2 (2000): 142-143.

1997       “The Bird Girl,” Texas Short Stories (Browder Springs, 1997), 364-373.

1996       Smoking Hopes (The Permanent Press, 1996).

Honors and Awards

2018       Terrordise semi-finalist Edinburgh International ; finalist Socially Relevant Film Fest.

2017       Terrordise semi-finalist Austin Revolution Film Fest; and finalist Park City Int’l Film Fest.

2016       Terrordise nominated for Best Screenplay at The ModCon London Film Festival

2016       Locus Amoenus nominated for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

2016       Excellence in Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction Book Review for Locus Amoenus

2015        Public Scholar, New York Council for the Humanities

2003      “Best of 2003” Dallas Observer award for Naked Singularity

2002       Alfred Kazin Award for Best Dissertation, English Department, Graduate Center, CUNY.

2001        Scholar in Residence, Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy

2001       Dissertation Fellowship, Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women, NY, NY

2001       Writer in Residence, Art & Science Laboratory, Santa Fe, NM

2001       Visiting Researcher, Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM

2000       Writer in Residence, Art & Science Laboratory, Santa Fe, NM

1998       Academic Distinction, English Department, Graduate Center, CUNY

1995       Washington Prize for Fiction, Kaufman Literary Agency, Arlington, VA (Smoking Hopes)

1992       Bernard Cohen Prize for Fiction, Hunter College, NY, NY (Smoking Hopes)

1991        Mayor’s Scholarship, Hunter College, NY, NY

1990       Bernard Cohen Prize for Fiction, Hunter College, NY, NY (“The Bird Girl”)

Invited/Featured Lectures

2017         “Propaganda and Art: How we process information when we aren’t thinking” Claverack Library, NY

2016        “Nabokov’s Theory of Insect Mimicry,” Rosendale Library, NY

2014         “How can Art and Science Interact Meaningfully,” LASER, New York, NY.

2013        “Deadleaf Butterflies: A Biosemiotic Approach to Mimesis in Nabokov,” Sorbonne Novelle. Paris, France.

2010        “Nature is a Work of Arts: Puns and Meaning,” Art-Science Salon with Ellen Levy, NY, NY

2005       “Complexity Science and Evolution,” Darwin Day Celebration, New Jersey Humanist Network & CFI-NJ.

2004       “Ecopoetics,” with Marcella Durand and Lytle Shaw, Dactyl Foundation, NY, NY

2004       “Euthanasia and Fate,” Virginia University, James Madison University, Delaware University.

2003       “On Euthanasia, Moral Choice, and Science,” Hemlock Society, New York, NY; Hudson Valley Humanists, New Paltz, NY; Washington Secular Humanists, Baltimore, MD; Freethinkers of Colorado Springs, Colo Springs, CO; Denver Atheists, Denver, CO; FACT, San Antonio TX

2003       “Nabokov and Mimicry,” Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO

2002       “Sacred/Secular: The Epiphenomenal in Post ‘Postclassical’ Science,” Graduate Center, CUNY, New York, NY.

2001       “Nabokov and Anti-Darwinian Evolution” Dactyl Foundation, New York, NY

2001        “Art Versus Science,” Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM

2001       “Neutral Evolution and Aesthetics: Vladimir Nabokov and Insect Mimicry,” Santa Fe Institute, NM


2019          “What is Biosemiotics?” Biosemiotics Gathering, Moscow, Russia

2018          The Third Way of Evolution Conference, Oxford University, Oxford UK

2018         “Free Range Humans: Biosemiotics and Governance,” Biosemiotics Gathering, Berkeley, CA

2017         “Siri Fails the Turing Test: Computation, Biosemiosis and Artificial Life,” Biosemiotics Gathering, Lausanne, Switzerland

2016        “When mimicry is a sign,” Biosemiotics Gathering, Prague, Czech Republic

2014        “The Biosemiotics of Biosemiotics,” Living in Cybernetics, American Society for Cybernetics, Washington DC

2014        “A Biosemiotic Definition of a Semiotic Object,” Peirce International Centennial Congress, Lowell MA

2013        “Toward a Biosemiotic Definition of Chance” International Biosemiotics Studies, 13th Annual Gathering, Castiglioncello, Italy.

2012       “Creativity: The negation of self-reference through misinterpretation,” International Society for Biosemiotic Studies, 12 Annual Gathering, Tartu, Estonia

2011       “Chance that Mimics Choice,” Society for Literature, Science & the Arts, Kitchener, Ontario

2011       “Self as Semiotic Object,” International Society for Biosemiotic Studies, 11th Annual Gathering, NY, NY, organizer

2010      “Creativity and Value,” Social Entrepreneurship Conference, Aldephi University, Long Island, NY

2010       “Secular Teleology,” International Society for the Study of Narrative, Cleveland, OH.

2010        International Society for Biosemiotic Studies, Braga, Portugal

2009      “The Problem of Authorship and Evolution by Natural Selection,” Society for Literature, Science & the Arts, Atlanta, GA

2009       International society for Biosemiotic Studies, Prague, Czech Republic.

2008      “Image Clusters,” Society for Literature, Science & the Arts, Charlotte, NC

2008      “Poetics or Semiotics,” Biosemiotics Gathering, Syros Greece

2007      “Message without Sender,” Society for Literature, Science & the Arts, Portland, ME

2007      “On T. L. Short’s Notion of Purpose,” C. S. Peirce Conference, Helsinki, Finland

2007      “On T. L. Short’s Notion of Purpose,” Biosemiotics Gathering, Grotigen, The Netherlands

2006      “Evolution: Cultural, Biological, and Cosmic,” Society for Literature, Science & the Arts, Dactyl Foundation, NYC–organizer

2006      “Deterministic Chance (As a Kind of Punning), Emergence, and Final Chance,” Society for Literature, Science & the Arts, Dactyl Foundation, NYC

2005       “Meaning, Function & Context as Scientific Concepts” Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, Chicago, IL.

2005       “Henry James’ Teleology” Society for the Study of Narrative Literature, Louisville, KY

2004       “Ecology and Ethics,” Society for Literature and Science, Durham, NC

2004       “Phenomenal Patterns: Narratology,” PALA, NY, NY

2004       “James’s Pragmatic Teleology,” Universite de Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2003       “Darwinian Ecologies,” Society for Literature and Science, Austin, TX

2003      “The Status of Emergence,” roundtable: N. Katherine Hayles, John Johnston, Eve Keller, and Susan Oyama, Society for Literature & Science, Austin, TX–organizer

2002      “Nonlinearity and Teleology,” Society for Literature and Science, Cal-Tech, Pasadena, CA

2002       “Nabokov and Insect Mimicry,” Nabokov Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

2002        “Agency in Henry James: From Positivism to Probabilism,” Society for the Study of Narrative Literature, E Lansing, MI

2001        “Genetic Determinism and Telos,” Society for the Study of Narrative Literature, MLA, New Orleans, LA

2001        “Narrative Teleology and Aesthetics,” Determinism Workshop, Max Planck Society, Ringberg Castle, Germany

2001       “Nabokov, Evolution, and Aesthetics,” American Literature Association, Cambridge, MA

2000       “Narrative Teleology and New Physics, ” Central NY Conference on Literature and Language, SUNY Cortland, NY

2000       “The History of Chaos in Science, Literature, and Art,” Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, NY, NY–chair

2000      “Pynchon and Complexity Science,” Twentieth-century Literature Conference, Louisville, KY

1998       “Art and Science,” Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, New York, NY

1998       “The Interpreters,” Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, New York, NY–chair

1991       “Writing Across the Curriculum,” Writing Centers Association, New York, NY

Curatorial Projects-Visual Art

2009      Judy Glantzman, “A Thirty-Year Retrospective,” Dactyl Foundation, NY

2007      Yelena Yemchuk, “Notes on Fatomas,” Dactyl Foundation, NY

2006      Debra Sessel, “Faith,” Dactyl Foundation, NY

2004      Yelena Yemchuk, “Sensitive,” Dactyl Foundation, NY

2002      Yelena Yemchuk, “Phenomena+Existence No. 1,” Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, NY

2002      James Gilroy, “Before and After 9/11 Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, NY

2002      Emily Orling, “Infant Paintings,” Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, NY

2000      Alexandra Wiesenfeld, “The Look of Love,” Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, NY

1999      James Gilroy, “Information Paintings,” Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities, NY

Professional Affiliations

International Society for Biosemiotic Studies

Biosemiotics, Springer, former editorial board

Meaning Systems Book Series, Fordham University Press, editorial board

International Vladimir Nabokov Society

Society for Literature, Science & the Arts, former member-at-large

International Society for the Study of Narrative


Chance that Mimics Choice: short stories

Trixie, a novel

Terrordise, comedy feature screenplay

Ghost Soldiers, comedy/drama TV pilot