Professor, Media & Communication
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 came to Muhlenberg because I love to teach—to share the intoxication of curiosity—and found colleagues with the same commitment.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
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 the question, “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 that 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?