The Interface is the Message

By Andrew Ventimiglia

Lori Emerson, Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound. University of Minnesota Press, 2014. 222 pp.

In Reading Writing Interfaces, media theorist Lori Emerson demystifies the enchanted world of modern digital devices. As recent technological innovations, from the ubiquitous tablet to fully-networked smart appliances, proliferate in a seductive variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, Emerson exposes the ideological project at the heart of this digital transformation.
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Media Theory at the Limits of Communication

By Aleksandra Kaminska

Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker and McKenzie Wark. Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation. University of Chicago Press, 2014. 210 pp.

“By being off the radar, you move in a different space, a jubilee zone of exception.”

—John Durham Peters, “Speaking Into the iPhone”

Like all such rare and catastrophic events, the disappearance of flight MH370 during a routine flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing in March 2014 spurred a frenzy of media coverage and public fascination.
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On the Uncertain Status of Text in the Digital Age: A Comparative Approach

By Marco Deseriis

N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman, Comparative Textual Media: Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era. University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 331 pp.

While comparative research is by no means new to the humanities and the social sciences, the field of media studies has been relatively untouched by explicitly comparative approaches. To be sure, influential strands of media studies such as the Toronto school of communication and the emerging field of media archeology are comparative in character.
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The Mass Reading Event and the Citizen-Reader

By Sarah Brouillette and Lina Shoumarova

Danielle Fuller and DeNel Rehberg Sedo. Reading Beyond the Book: The Social Practices of Contemporary Literary Culture. Routledge, 2013. 370 pp.

Reading Beyond the Book presents the results of an extensive program of research into what the authors call mass reading events (MREs). It features case studies of the Richard and Judy Book Club, Canada Reads, and a variety of One Book, One Community (OBOC) programs: from Seattle Reads, which was the first program of its kind, and went on after its 1999 launch to become the basic toolkit for OBOC programs all over the world, to Get Into Reading, a grassroots program that aims to have Liverpool’s underprivileged communities reading classic literature together.
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Culture, Technology and Hyper-Industrial Capitalism

By Tai Neilson, Lisa Daily, Gavin Mueller and David Rheams

Bernard Stiegler. The Decadence of Industrial Democracies.  Trans. Daniel Ross and Suzanne Arnold. Polity Press, 2011. 194 pp.

In The Decadence of Industrial Democracies Bernard Stiegler presents a singular take on the culture industry in the hyper-industrial age and offers a radical understanding of technological and cultural change. Stiegler applies his philosophical approach developed in Technics and Time to the Americanized culture industry at the heart of industrial democracies. Echoing the Frankfurt School, he describes the willingness of consumer citizens to trade leisure time for consumptive habits.
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A Call to Theoretical Indiscipline

By Carolyn Elerding

Jonathan Sterne. MP3: The Meaning of a Format. Duke University Press, 2012. 341 pp.

The last decade has been a truly exciting one in cultural studies of sound, largely due to the generous and catalytic contributions of Jonathan Sterne. These include several significant articles, a strong intellectual and activist web presence, and a provocative genealogy of early sound reproduction and transmission entitled The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction.
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Colonial Trains, Postcolonial Tracks

By Nilak Datta

Marian Aguiar. Tracking Modernity: India’s Railway and the Culture of Mobility. University of Minnesota Press, 2011, xxiv +226 pp.

When I first heard Marian Aguiar discuss her book project on Indian Railways at an informal gathering of faculty and graduate students in the fall of 2005, I was excited, skeptical, and optimistic about her project all at once.
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Branding in Everyday Life

By Mehita Iqani

Melissa Aronczyk and Devon Powers, eds.  Blowing Up the Brand: Critical Perspectives on Promotional Culture.  Peter Lang, 2010.  339 pp.

Blowing Up the Brand, an edited collection originating from a conference of the same name held in New York in 2009, does not so much seek to provide definitions for the brand as it does critically engage with “the increasingly central role of brands in contemporary culture” (5).
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