The Centre for Culture and Technology is dedicated to theoretical, aesthetic, and critical inquiry into the ways contemporary media shape contemporary forms of experience and our prospects for living together and relating to one another in an interconnected world. In this project, the Centre draws inspiration from Marshall McLuhan's humanistic intellectual and institutional legacy. In his words, “The object of the Centre is to pursue by a wide variety of approaches an investigation into the psychic and social consequences of technologies.” The Centre's pursuit of this investigation is dedicated not only to contemporary media and its effects, but also to the contemporary critical approaches necessary for understanding our media: feminist, queer, decolonial, and antiracist.
Because humanistic media studies gets on in conversation with artists and their work, the Centre will not only pursue humanistic inquiry into contemporary media, but will also foster aesthetic experimentation as a mode of inquiry. McLuhan taught that "media alter our sense ratios." He also wrote that it is artists who are able to grasp such changes in experience, to bring news of such changes, and to make those changes matters of common concern. Taking this charge seriously, the Centre will support the production of and conversation about contemporary media art. It will also support the study of a wide variety of aesthetic media—fine art, literature, cinema, music, and so on—for their lessons in reckoning with contemporary media. It will, finally, support the study of media aesthetics in an expanded sense, promoting inquiry into the ways technological media shape contemporary experience, by elaborating its histories, its problems, its infrastructures, and its politics.
The Centre offers both a setting and an institutional framework for this inquiry, providing space and programming for scholars working in humanistic media studies across the three campuses of the University of Toronto and in the GTA.
Director, Professor Scott C. Richmond
Scott C. Richmond is Associate Professor of Cinema and Digital Media in the Cinema Studies Institute and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto.
His teaching and research lie at the intersection of film studies and media theory, focusing on the history, theory, and aesthetics of screen-based media. He regularly teaches courses in digital media studies, avant-garde film and video, and the history and theory of the moving image.
Before coming to the University of Toronto, he received an AB with Honours in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University and a PhD in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and taught film and media studies for six years in the department of English at Wayne State University in Detroit.
He is author of two books, Cinema's Bodily Illusions: Flying, Floating, and Hallucinating (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and Find Each Other: Networks, Affects, and Other Queer Encounters (forthcoming with Duke University Press). He is currently working on two books in the history of computing, Thinking with Computers: Seymour Papert and the Invention of Computational Personhood and Four Histories of Computing: Quantity, Magic, Prediction, Personhood.
With Kris Cohen, he is editor of the JCMS In Focus dossier, "New Histories of Computational Personhood" (forthcoming 2022). His essays have been published in venues such as The Oxford Handbook of Film Theory, The Journal of Visual Culture, Discourse, and elsewhere.
PATTY FACY is our Digital Communications and Programming Coordinator who oversees the day-to-day administration of the Centre, from event planning and research support to managing our presence online. She first joined the Centre as a Research Assistant in 2018 while completing her Master of Information ('20) degree in UX Design. She also holds a B.A. Hons in Film & Media Studies ('15) from UBC. Her past studies and current interests are centred around service design, user experience design, and the social impacts of design in general.
The Centre's advisory board is comprised of scholars from across disciplines, ranks, institutions and countries who shape the vision, programming and research goals of the Centre.
Mitchell Akiyama is a Toronto-based scholar, composer, and artist. His eclectic body of work includes writings about sound, metaphors, animals, and media technologies; scores for film and dance; and objects and installations that trouble received ideas about history, perception, and sensory experience. He holds a PhD in communications from McGill University and an MFA from Concordia University and is Assistant Professor of Visual Studies in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.
Erika Balsom is a scholar and critic based in London, working on cinema, art, and their intersection. She is Reader in Film Studies at King’s College London and holds a PhD in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University
Katherine Behar is an interdisciplinary artist whose works exploring gender and labor in contemporary digital culture have appeared throughout North America and Europe. Pera Museum presented Katherine Behar: Data's Entry | Veri Girişi (2016), a comprehensive survey exhibition and catalog. Additional solo exhibitions include Backups (2019), Anonymous Autonomous (2018), E-Waste (2014, catalog/traveling), and numerous others collaborating as "Disorientalism." Behar is the editor of Object-Oriented Feminism, coeditor of And Another Thing: Nonanthropocentrism and Art, and author of Bigger than You: Big Data and Obesity. She is Associate Professor of New Media Arts at Baruch College and The Graduate Center, CUNY.
Caetlin Benson-Allott is Professor of English and Film & Media Studies at Georgetown University. Her research and teaching focus on film history and theory, material culture, home video technologies, feminist and gender studies, queer cinema, and the horror genre. Dr. Benson-Allott is the author of The Stuff of Spectatorship: Material Cultures of Film and Television (2021), Remote Control (2015), and Killer Tapes and Shattered Screens: Video Spectatorship from VHS to File Sharing (2013). She is Editor of JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies (formerly Cinema Journal), the scholarly publication of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and a regular columnist for Film Quarterly.
Zach Blas is an artist, filmmaker, and writer whose practice spans moving image, computation, theory, and installation. Recent exhibitions include the 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2022); British Art Show 9 (2021); and Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI, de Young Museum (2020). His 2021 artist monograph Unknown Ideals is published by Sternberg Press. Blas holds a PhD from the Graduate Program in Literature, Duke University and an MFA from UCLA. He is an Assistant Professor of Visual Studies in the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto.
Stephanie Boluk is an associate professor in Cinema and Digital Media and English. Research areas include game studies, game design, media studies, computer history, and electronic literature.
Dr. Beth Coleman is Associate Professor of Data & Cities at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology and Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, where she directs the City as Platform lab. Working in the disciplines of Science and Technology Studies and Critical Race Theory, her research focuses on smart technology & machine learning, urban data, and civic engagement.
Shane Denson is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies in the Department of Art & Art History and, by Courtesy, of German Studies in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages and of Communication in Stanford's Department of Communication. His research and teaching interests span a variety of media and historical periods, including phenomenological and media-philosophical approaches to film, digital media, comics, games, and serialized popular forms.
Wendy Duff is a professor and Dean in the Faculty of Information where she teaches courses in the areas of archival access and community archives. Her research and publications have focused on archival access, archives and social justice, and archival users. In her current research she is exploring the emotional impact of archival work.
Jacob Gaboury is an Associate Professor of Film & Media at the University of California at Berkeley, specializing in the seventy year history of digital image technologies and their impact on our contemporary visual culture. His first book is titled Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics (MIT Press 2021), and it traces a material history of early computer graphics through a set of five objects that structure the production and circulation of all digital images today.
Jacob Gallagher-Ross is Associate Professor and Chair of English and Drama at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and the author of Theaters of the Everyday (Northwestern University Press, 2018). A contributing editor of Theater, Yale’s journal of theater criticism, reportage, and new plays, he is a guest co-editor of three special issues about theater and new media: Digital Dramaturgies (2012), Digital Feelings (2016), and Spectatorship in an Age of Surveillance (2018). He was for many years a frequent contributor to the Village Voice’s theater section, and worked as a dramaturg at the Stratford Festival. He is the content consultant for Crash Course: Theater and Drama, a fifty-episode web series about theatre history produced by The Crash Course and PBS Digital. He is currently collaborating with Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson, the founders of NYC performance ensemble Big Art Group, on The Big Art Group Book, the first full-length volume devoted to their work.
Dr. Sara M. Grimes is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Her research and teaching are centred in the areas of children’s digital media culture(s) and critical theories of technology, with a focus on digital games. Her published work explores the commercialization of children’s play culture and creative expression, discussions of intellectual property and fair dealing in child-specific digital environments, as well as the legal and ethical dimensions of marketing to children online.
James J. Hodge (he/him/his, Ph.D. University of Chicago) specializes in digital media aesthetics at the intersections of cinema, art history, and literary studies, especially experimental media art genres such as new media art, avant-garde film, and electronic literature. Focusing also on media and critical theory he has special interests in phenomenology and psychoanalysis (object relations). His research is devoted to the broad question of how artistic forms express the incoherence of lived experience. His first book Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art (Minnesota, 2019) argues that animation becomes crucial for understanding the ways in which history changes in the digital age.
Tung-Hui Hu is a poet and media scholar. The winner of a Rome Prize and a NEA fellowship for literature, Hu has also received an American Academy in Berlin Prize for his research. He is the author of three books of poetry, The Book of Motion (2003), Mine (2007), and Greenhouses, Lighthouses (Copper Canyon Press, 2013), a chapbook, On the Kepel Fruit (Albion Books, 2017), and a study of digital culture, A Prehistory of the Cloud (MIT Press, 2015), which was described by The New Yorker as "mesmerizing... absorbing [in] its playful speculations". His new book, an exploration of burnout, isolation, and disempowerment in the digital underclass, is Digital Lethargy, forthcoming from MIT Press in October 2022.
Lawrence Switzky is Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto. His current research examines the place of theatre within the history of mass computation and artificial intelligence. In many ways, theatre anticipates the computer as a hypermedium that can contain, deploy, and re-mix the other media. He is investigating how theatre has manifested or resisted the discrete logic of the digital-breaking up a continuous reality into non-continuous representations; the algorithmic and virtual basis of most of the past century of dramatic experimentation; and how automation might be reformulated through puppetry, ventriloquism, devising, and other performance traditions that delegate and distribute agency.
Parick Jagoda specializes in media theory, game studies and design, science studies, and twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and culture. He is the co-founder of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab and the Transmedia Story Lab, and serves as Executive Editor of the interdisciplinary journal Critical Inquiry. He is faculty director of the Weston Game Lab and the Media Arts and Design major at the University of Chicago. He has helped develop game studies and game design at the University of Chicago, including as a co-founder of the Fourcast Lab collective that designs alternate reality games about topics such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the English department, He is also a professor of Cinema & Media Studies and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago, as well as an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.
Patrick Keilty is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information and Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. In addition, he is Archives Director of the Sexual Representation Collection, administered by the Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. Professor Keilty’s research interests can be divided into two areas. The first is the politics of digital infrastructures in the sex industries. The second is the materiality of media in erotohistoriography. He has published on embodiment and technology, data science, the history of information retrieval, design and experience, graphic design, temporality, and sexual taxonomies. His work spans visual culture, sexual politics, science and technology studies, media studies, information studies, political economy, critical theory, and theories of gender, sexuality, and race.
Paula McDowell is Professor of English at New York University. Her interests include the Marshall McLuhan archives; media history and theory; format theory and changing textual ecologies (oral, manuscript, print, digital); and eighteenth-century British literature and social and cultural history. Her books include The Invention of the Oral: Print Commerce and Fugitive Voices in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago, 2017) and The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace 1678-1730 (Oxford, 1998), and she is currently writing two more archivally-based books, this time on McLuhan: “Marshall McLuhan: A Literary Biography” and “Base Camp: Five Journeys Through the McLuhan Archives.” She recently published “Elsie McLuhan’s Vocal Science,” PMLA 135 (2020), on Marshall’s mother, the professional elocutionist Elsie Naomi Hall McLuhan, and edited and contributed an essay to “Reading McLuhan Reading,” a Special Issue of Textual Practice 35: 9 (2021).
Shaka McGlotten is Professor of Media Studies and Anthropology at Purchase College-SUNY, where they also serve as Chair of the Gender Studies and Global Black Studies Programs. Their work stages encounters between black study, queer theory, media, and art. They have written and lectured widely on networked intimacies and messy computational entanglements as they interface with qtpoc lifeworlds.
Felan Parker is Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Book & Media Studies program at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, specializing in digital media, media industries, game studies, and film studies. His current research explores the production, distribution, and reception of “indie” digital games, and the role of conventions, expos, and festivals in media industries as co-investigator on the Swarming San Diego Comic-Con SSHRC Insight grant.
Thy Phu is a Professor of Media Studies at the Department of Arts, Culture, and Media at UTSC. Before joining the University of Toronto, she was based at Western University, where she taught cultural studies, American Studies, and critical theory. She has also held visiting positions at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore and Yale University. Her digital humanities research and public humanities practice lies at the intersections of visual studies, photography theory, and digital archives, with a focus on empire, race, and migration. She is also Director The Family Camera Network, a collaborative research project that engages local communities in the building of an antiracist public archive through the collection and preservation of family photographs and their stories.
Sarah Sharma is Associate Professor of Media Theory and Director of the Institute for Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) at the University of Toronto. Between 2017-2022 she was Director of the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. Her research and teaching focuses on technology, time and labour with a specific focus on issues related to gender, race, and class. She is currently completing a monograph on technology and the gendered politics of escape and refusal. She is the author of In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (Duke UP, 2014) and co-editor (with Rianka Singh) of Re-Understanding Media: Feminist Extensions of Marshall McLuhan (Duke UP, 2022).
Marc Steinberg is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University, Montreal, and director of The Platform Lab. His research focuses on animation, media industry studies, and digital media, focusing on the role of digital platforms in mediating cultural production and experience. He is the author of Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan (Minnesota, 2012), The Platform Economy: How Japan Transformed the Commercial Internet (Minnesota, 2019), Media and Management (Minnesota & meson, 2021), and “From Automobile Capitalism to Platform Capitalism: Toyotism as a Prehistory of the Digital Economy” (in Organization Studies). He is currently at work on a project on platforms and convenience culture.
Jonathan Sterne teaches in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. He is author of Diminished Faculties: A Political Phenomenology of Impairment (Duke 2021); MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke 2012), The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Duke 2003); and numerous articles on media, technologies and the politics of culture. He is also editor of The Sound Studies Reader (Routledge 2012) and co-editor of The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age (Minnesota 2016). He is working on a series of essays on artificial intelligence and culture, and with Mara Mills, he is writing Tuning Time: Histories of Sound and Speed. Visit his website at sterneworks.org.
The Centre for Culture and Technology is an initiative of the Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto. It aims to continue the ground-breaking work initiated by the Canadian thinker Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), who spent his career as Professor of English at the University of Toronto. The Centre had its beginnings on October 24, 1963, when John Kelly (President of St. Michael’s College) and Claude Bissell (President of U of T) decided to establish a Centre for Culture and Technology, which later became McLuhan’s office.
Located in the historic Coach House (39A Queen’s Park Crescent East), The Centre for Culture and Technology is now a gathering place for critical scholars from all disciplines to meet, share, and develop scholarly interests on the impact of digital technologies on culture. The quaint and quiet Coach House is set against the backdrop of a bustling Toronto and is an incubator for scholars of media studies across the University of Toronto’s three campuses.
See Monday Night Seminars for more historical photos of the our space.