Jeff Pooley 

Associate Professor, Media & Communication


B.A., Harvard University
M.A., Columbia University
Ph.D., Columbia University

I teach courses that encourage students to reflect on what it means to live in a media-saturated society. My aim is to make the familiar strange—to help students see how little the social world they inhabit resembles ways of living from even two centuries ago. I do not disguise my own curiosity and excitement when a class and I, together, work to make sense of social media, algorithms, celebrity culture, or whatever facet of media we take up. It's the process of curiosity-driven inquiry, and not really any particular material, that I consider the main lesson. I also try to include modest media production in otherwise “analytic” courses, on the theory that media-making and understanding media go hand in hand. I teach the introductory Media & Society, the required Media Theory & Methods, and advanced courses like Social Media & the Self and (soon) Data & Society. I came to Muhlenberg because I love to teach—to share the intoxication of curiosity—and found colleagues with the same commitment. My research often takes me into the archives, since I publish on the history of media research itself. My question is always some variation on, Why did this idea win and not some other? For the same reason I write quite a bit about the way that scholars communicate with each other, with the hope that new technologies might help us live up to our much older ideals. I am also very curious about, and publish on, the way we perform our identities on social media. How do we balance the expectation that we present a “real” self with all the editing and filtering that social-media platforms encourage?