Researcher biography

My research examines a wide range of issues related to what we might call 'digital culture'. I've researched and written about topics including, but not limited to, emotion recognition, selfies, memes, influencers, videogames, motion capture, virtual reality, and empathy. Regardless of my specific object, my research is motivated by three general, intersecting sets of questions.

  • First, how do people make sense of their own everyday lives under conditions where work and social life depend on perpetual technological connection and, consequentially, are also shaped by the demands of technological platforms under 'late capitalism'?
  • Second, how do the material dimensions of media--their physical capacities to transform relations in time and space, their capacities for writing, storing, and recalling information--shape perception, experience, and knowledge?
  • Third, and finally, how is our contemporary technological existence shaped by a broader context that links the history of technology with the histories of medicine, psychology, political economy, and aesthetic judgment?

I am the author or co-author of five published or forthcoming books. This includes: The Influencer Factory: A Marxist Theory of Corporate Personhood on YouTube (Stanford, 2024; co-authored with Katherine Guinness), an examination of ultra-rich influencer videos that argues influencer culture reveals a drive to 'vertically integrate' oneself and behave as if individuality can become interchangeable with the corporate form; The Affect Lab: The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion (Minnesota, 2023), a critique of 'affect theory' in the humanities and social sciences that makes its claims through key moments in the psychology of emotion and the technologies used to measure emotional experience; Materialist Media Theory: An Introduction (Bloomsbury, 2019), which updates and revises the claims of Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis in relation to a variety of recent theoretical innovations, especially New and Feminist Materialisms; Theorizing Digital Cultures (SAGE, 2018), which provides a model for the study of digital media that synthesizes British and German approaches to media and culture; and Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection (Bloomsbury, 2016), which examines the history of connectivity in Western culture as it crosses the development of technological, biological, financial, and social networks.

Additionally, with Yigit Soncul, I'm co-editor of a special issue of the journal parallax on 'Networked Liminality' (2020). With Yigit Soncul and Katherine Guinness, I'm co-editor of a Post45 cluster on 'Influencer Aesthetics' and the De Gruyter Handbook of Digital Cultures, both of which are forthcoming in the next few years.

Among other honours, I have been the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a residency at the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and was a contributor to an issue of the magazine esse: Arts + Opinions on 'Empathy', which received an honourable mention for 'Best Editorial Package' from the Canadian National Magazine Awards/Les Prix du Magazine Canadien. In my previous position, at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was named an NC State University Faculty Scholar, was a recipient of the NC State CHASS Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in the Humanities, and was a recipient of the Robert M. Entman Award for Excellence in Communication Research.

Some of my current research examines questions of aesthetic judgement and 'bad' videogames, the use of generative AI in 'brain decoding' and visualizing human thought through fMRI technologies, and, with Katherine Guinness, a project on spaces beyond frames in the history of art and 'immersive' audiovisual media.

My full list of publications, which includes PDFs of many of my articles and book chapters, can be found at my personal website,

Areas of research