Grant Bollmer

is a theorist and historian of digital culture.

I am an Associate Research Professor in the department of Communication at the University of Maryland, College Park. My research investigates a wide range of topics related to digital media, including emotion recognition, selfies, memes, influencers, terrible videogames, motion capture, virtual reality and empathy, among many other topics. 

I am the author or coauthor of five books. Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection (2016),  examines the history of connectivity in Western culture as it crosses the development of technological, biological, financial, and social networks. Theorizing Digital Cultures (2018),  provides a model for the study of digital media that synthesizes British and German approaches to media and culture. Materialist Media Theory: An Introduction (2019), attempts to update and revise the claims of Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis in relation to a variety of recent theoretical innovations, especially New and Feminist Materialisms. The Affect Lab: The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion (2023) is a history of the American psychology of emotions through the lens of specific tools used to identify and produce emotion, using this history as a critique of any neurological or biological foundations of “affect theory.” The Influencer Factory: A Marxist Theory of Corporate Personhood on YouTube (2024), coauthored with Katherine Guinness, uses the backgrounds of YouTube influencer videos to examine the infrastructures of contemporary capitalism.

Among other awards, I’ve 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 honorable mention for “Best Editorial Package” from the Canadian National Magazine Awards/Les Prix du Magazine Canadien. Formerly, while I was employed at NC State, I was an NC State University Faculty Scholar, a recipient of the NC State CHASS Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in the Humanities, and recipient of the Robert M. Entman Award for Excellence in Communication Research.

This, however, is perhaps my proudest achievement. The above image is a meme by @cyborg.asm on Instagram, referencing the article “Do You Really Want to Live Forever,” which I coauthored with Katherine Guinness. The original meme can be found here and the article can be found here.


︎ Email
︎ Twitter

︎ close this panel (if on a mobile phone)

Book Chapters

︎return home

Below is a list of my chapters in academic books, along with links to digital copies of these articles, where available. Some of the copies linked here may be uncorrected proofs. Book chapters may otherwise be quite obscure or expensive. Chapters noted by an asterisk [*] were coauthored with former students.

Grant Bollmer. 2024. “Absurd Temporalities,” Contemporary Absurdities, Existential Crises, and Visual Art, Charlotte Kent and Katherine Guinness, editors. Bristol: Intellect Books.

Grant Bollmer. 2021. “Counter-Selfies and the Real Subsumption of Society,” Visual Culture Approaches to the Selfie, ed. Derek Conrad Murray, editor. New York: Routledge, 20–39. [link]

Grant Bollmer. 2021. “Mimetic Sameness,” Critical Meme Reader: Global Mutations of the Viral Image, INC Reader #15, Chloë Arkenbout, Jack Wilson, and Daniel de Zeeuw, editors. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 154–164. [link]

[*] Dina Abdel-Mageed and Grant Bollmer. 2021. “E-Sheikhs: How Online Islamic Discourse Can Reproduce Authoritarian Power Structures,” New Media Discourses, Culture and Politics after the Arab Spring: Case Studies from Egypt and Beyond, Aziz Douai and Eid Mohamed, editors. London: I. B. Tauris, 83–101.

Grant Bollmer. 2021. “Facial Obfuscation and Bare Life: Politicizing Dystopia in Black Mirror,” Digital Dystopia: The Moral Uncanny of Netflix’s Black Mirror, ed. Margaret Gibson and Clarissa Carden. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 99 – 119. [link]

Grant Bollmer. 2020. “Selfies and Dronies as Relational Political Practices,” Routledge Companion to Mobile Media Art, ed. Larissa Hjorth, Adriana de Souza e Silva, and Klare Lanson. London: Routledge, 183 – 192. [link]

Grant Bollmer. 2020. “From Immersion to Empathy: The Legacy of Einfühlung in Digital Art and Videogames,” Shifting Interfaces: An Anthology of Presence, Empathy, and Agency in 21st Century Media Arts, Hava Aldouby, ed. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 18 – 30. [link]

Grant Bollmer. 2018. “Software Intimacies (Social Media and the Unbearability of Death),” Digital Intimate Publics and Social Media, Amy Shields Dobson, Brady Robards, and Nic Carah, editors. Palgrave MacMillan, 45 – 58. [link]

[*] Grant Bollmer and Chris Rodley. 2017. “Speculations on the Sociality of Socialbots,” Socialbots and their Friends: Digital Media and the Automation of Sociality, Robert W. Gehl and Maria P. Bakardjieva, editors. New York: Routledge, 147 – 163. [link]

Grant Bollmer. 2015. “Technobiological Traffic: Networks, Bodies, and the Management of Vitality,” Traffic: Media as Infrastructures and Cultural Practices, Marion Näser-Lather and Christoph Neubert, editors. Leiden: Brill, 117 – 135. [link]