We checked in to learn more about what he's been working on.
Tell us about your most project.
My most recent project is a theory and history of the circuit with a particular focus on its entanglement with governance in the United States and Canada and its historical transition from analog to digital. The book examines circuits and circulation in a variety of historical contexts including military communication, medicine and health, policing and surveillance, automobility and transportation, and optics. I think the jacket copy explains it pretty well here: "The authors ultimately demonstrate how contemporary media came to be mechanisms that create frictionless circulation to maximize control, efficacy, and state power." The book is also unique in that six of us collaborated in co-authoring the book, a practice that was incredibly enriching and rewarding but is extremely uncommon in humanities publications.
When did you become inspired to explore this subject of inquiry? What motivated you to take it on?
This book - or at least my contributions to it - were heavily motivated by my dissertation research on early computing in the United States and its impact on US governance. My monograph was wholly unrelated to my dissertation research, so this gave me an outlet to continue pursuing those older interests. Additionally, the co-authoring process is one that I enjoy and the experimental nature of co-authoring with a large number of people, most of whom I was already close with intellectually and personally, was a big draw. We collectively decided to pool a lot of our previous research and writing as well as some original writing for this project, and then collectively read and revise one another's work synchronously until the entire manuscript (hopefully) transformed into a cohesive text with a more unified voice.
What is your overall goal for this project? What do you hope to contribute to the field of study?
I think we have a few overlapping goals for the project, including (1) to posit the concept of the circuit as a uniquely rich and fruitful one to think through contemporary and historical operations of power, governmentality, and technology, (2) to adjust the standard media studies history of computation by shifting focus from purely military origins for media and information technologies to domestic governmental and bureaucratic origins as well, (3) to advocate for media genealogy as a methodology for doing politically engaged media studies scholarship, and (4) to further demonstrate the potential for collective authorship in the humanities.
Is this project related to your previous work (Digital Closet)? If so, in what ways?
Oddly, no, this project is wholly unrelated to my monograph, The Digital Closet, outside of both being generally within the realm of internet studies and/or media studies.
Are there any articles you have published related to this current project that we can check out?
A lot of us drew on previously published research as a starting point for composing the book, so there are a number of articles that will have significant overlap with the content in the book. On my end, my article "Media Genealogy and the Politics of Archaeology" co-authored with Jeremy Packer for the International Journal of Communication is a useful overview of the methodology we posit and utilize throughout the book. You can check that article out here.
Where can we find it?
The book Prison House of the Circuit is available now via University of Minnesota Press here.
June 14, 2023