Grant Bollmer

is a theorist and historian of digital culture.

I am a Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland. 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.” A book coauthored with Katherine Guinness, The Influencer Factory: A Marxist Theory of Corporate Personhood on YouTube, will be published in 2024, which 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.


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Theorizing Digital Cultures

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Published:September 2018
Imprint:SAGE Publications

Buy it from the publisher or from Amazon.

Reviews can be found in the American Book Review and in [sic] - A Journal of Literature, Culture and Literary Translation.

The rapid development of digital technologies continues to have far reaching effects on our daily lives. This book explains how digital media—in providing the material and infrastructure for a host of practices and interactions—affect identities, bodies, social relations, artistic practices, and the environment.

Theorizing Digital Cultures:
Shows students the importance of theory for understanding digital cultures and presents key theories in an easy-to-understand way

Considers the key topics of cybernetics, online identities, aesthetics and ecologies

Explores the power relations between individuals and groups that are produced by digital technologies

Enhances understanding through applied examples, including YouTube personalities, Facebook’s ‘like’ button and holographic performers

Clearly structured and written in an accessible style, this is the book students need to get to grips with the key theoretical approaches in the field. It is essential reading for students and researchers of digital culture and digital society throughout the social sciences.

“Digital media have changed everything. Grant Bollmer shows why we must think through this change, and how to think with and about it.”
Sean Cubitt, Goldsmiths, University of London

“At last, a clear and brilliant guide to the digital world, as both a virtual and material zone. Bravo!”
Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside

“A theoretically rich and grounded text full of brand new insights into technology. Theorizing Digital Cultures lays out exactly how the relationship between digital media and culture is political. In doing so it sets a much needed example for both students and scholars on how to engage theories of media and culture in order to make sense of our emerging technological realities.”
Sarah Sharma,University of Toronto