Alexander Monea

Alexander Monea

Associate Professor

Internet Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, AI / Machine Learning, Big Data, Image Recognition, Computer Vision

Dr. Alexander Monea is an Associate Professor serving jointly in George Mason's English Department and Cultural Studies Program. He researches the history and cultural impacts of computers and digital media. He is also an Ethics, Equity, and Trust Area Editor for Data & Policy. He received his PhD in Communication, Rhetoric, & Digital Media from North Carolina State University.

Current Research

My book The Digital Closet: How the Internet Became Straight examines how heteronormative biases get embedded in the computer vision algorithms and content filters that control the flow of content we encounter online. It examines everything from the anti-porn coalition of Christian conservatives and Alt-Right groups to the bias in datasets and algorithms that filter content to instances of sex educational and artistic materials being rendered invisible online.

My other recent work includes The Prison House of the Circuit: Politics of Control from Analog to Digital, a co-authored book on the logic of the circuit and its role in governance and statecraft, Amazon: At the Intersection of Culture and Capital, a co-edited book on, an article on how race becomes hypervisible or invisible in machine vision systems, and an article on how eye-tracking technologies came to define our contemporary notions of 'attention'.

Selected Publications

Monea, A. (2022). The Digital Closet: How the Internet Became Straight. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (VIEW)

Packer, J., de Villavicencio, P. S., Monea, A., Oswald, K., Maddalena, K. & Reeves, J. (2022). The Prisonhouse of the Circuit: Politics of Control from Analog to Digital. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. (VIEW)

Smith, P., Monea, A., & Santiago, M. (Eds.) (2022). Amazon: At the Intersection of Culture and Capital. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield. (VIEW)

Monea, A. (2022). I Know It When I See It: The Heteronormativity of Google's Safesearch. Porn Studies. (VIEW)

Monea, A. (2021). Captured Time: Eye Tracking and the Attention Economy. In Volmar, A. & Stine, K. (Eds.) Hardwired Temporalities. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press. (VIEW)

Monea, A. (2019). Race and computer vision. In Sudmann, A. (ed.) The democratization of artificial intelligence: Net politics in the era of learning algorithms (pp. 189–208). Bliefield, Germany: Transcript (distributed by Columbia University Press). (VIEW)

Monea, A. & Packer, J. (2016). Media Genealogy and the Politics of Archaeology. The International Journal of Communication, 10, 3141–3159. (VIEW)

Expanded Publication List

Monea, A. (2019). From Aristotle to Computational Topoi. In Sundvall, S. (Ed.). Rhetorical Speculations: The Future of Rhetoric, Writing, and Technology. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.

Monea, A. (2016). The Graphing of Difference: Numerical Mediation and the Case of Google’s Knowledge Graph. Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, 16(5), 452–461. (VIEW)

Monea, A. (2016). An Archive for the Future: Paul N. Edwards on Technology, Historiography, Self and World. The International Journal of Communication, 10, 3174–3185. (VIEW)

Monea, A. (2016). Graph Force: Rhetorical Machines and the N-Arization of Knowledge. Computational Culture, 5. (VIEW)

May, M. & Monea, A. (2016). Beyond the Possible. Cultural Critique, 92, 139–152. (PREVIEW)

Monea, A. (2012). Lomo-Fi: Or, Getting Haecceities to Pose for Your Toy Camera. Rhizomes, 23.

Grants and Fellowships

National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant, 2020, Co-PI for "Situated Algorithmic Thinking: Preparing the Future Computing Workforce for Ethical Decision-Making through Interactive Case Studies" (VIEW)

Curriculum Impact Grant, 2021, Co-PI on project to create an Ethics & AI Minor at GMU

Curriculum Impact Grant, 2021, Co-PI on project to perform anti-racist overhaul of doctoral curriculum and policies

Faculty Research and Development Award, 2018, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University

Courses Taught

CULT 860 – Social Media

HNRS 360 – Coping with the Internet

CULT 816 – Science & Technology

CULT 860 – Culture, Media, & Technology

ENGH 676 – Intro to Cultural Studies

ENGH 470 RS – Science & Technoculture in the History of Film

ENGH 451 – Science Fiction

ENGH 375/ENGH 507 – Web Authorship & Design

ENGH 318 – Intro to Cultural Studies


PhD, North Carolina State University, 2016

MA, Bowling Green State University, 2012

BA, Walsh University, 2010

Recent Presentations

"How the Internet Became Straight." Presentation for the Department of Communication, Media and Film at the University of Calgary. November 18, 2022. (SLIDES)

"How the Internet Became Straight." Presentation for the Media Insights Lecture Series for the Media School at Indiana University. November 3, 2022.

"How the Internet Became Straight." Presentation for the Queering Digital Cultures Symposium at King's College London. October 28, 2022.

"The Digital Closet: Cisheteronormative Content Moderation and the Case of Google and Facebook." Presentation for the Special Interest Group for Computing, Information, and Society. September 23, 2021.

"Snowballing Bias: Benchmark Dataset Bias and the Case of ImageNet." Presentation for the AI Tea Series at the Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University. March 26, 2021.

"The Rising Popularity of Data Ethics: Intersections between the Humanities and Computer Science" Presentation for the Center for Humanities Research at George Mason University. March 12, 2021.

“I Know It When I See It”: An Overview of Google’s SafeSearch and the Politics of Automating Judgment. Presentation at Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2018 Conference. March 17th, 2018.

Towards a Speculative Code Studies. Invited talk. Mellon DH Seminar hosted by the University of Pennsylvania's Price Lab for the Digital Humanities. Philadelphia, PA. October 24th, 2016.

Google's Knowledge Graph & Future-Histories of Thought. Invited talk. Control Societies Speaker Series, University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA. October 24th, 2016.

German Media Studies: From Culture to Technology and Back Again. Presentation at the Crossroads in Cultural Studies 2016 Biannual Conference. December, 2016. 

Machinic Rhetoric: Graph Databases and the Future of Common Knowledge. Presentation at the National Communication Association's 102nd Annual Convention. Philadelphia, PA. November, 2016.

In the Media

Interview for Radical AI Podcast (VIEW)

Interview for The MIT Press Reader (VIEW)

Interview for Town Hall Seattle's In the Moment podcast (VIEW)

Interview for With Good Reason episode "The Future is Now" (VIEW)

Interview for Skylight Books' Skylit Podcast (VIEW)

Article on NSF Grant, "Educators examine and explain algorithm ethics" (VIEW)