Skip to main content

Grant Bollmer

Assoc Professor

Department of Communication

Winston Hall 227


Grant Bollmer is a theorist of digital culture. He is the author of three books, Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection (Bloomsbury, 2016) examines the history of connectivity in Western culture as it crosses the development of technological, biological, financial, and social networks; Theorizing Digital Cultures (SAGE, 2018) provides a model for the study of digital media that synthesizes British and German approaches to media and culture; and Materialist Media Theory (Bloomsbury, 2019) updates and revises the claims of Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis in relation to a variety of recent theoretical innovations, especially New and Feminist Materialisms.

In 2019, Grant was the recipient of the CHASS Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in the Humanities and the Robert M. Entman Award for Excellence in Communication Research, and has 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.

Grant is currently working on a book currently titled The Affect Lab: Instruments, Aesthetics, Empathy, and Emotion, which examines the epistemological role of measurement instruments in the history of psychology, and how these technologies have shaped the definition of what an “emotion” or “affect” is. In doing so, this book seeks to challenge how a large body of literature in the humanities—termed “affect theory”—draws on arguments from experimental psychology and neuroscience to claim that something called “affect” exists, as a physiological universal, prior to language or symbolic inscription.

Grant is also currently engaged in a collaboration with art historian Katherine Guinness, The Influencer Factory, which examines the backgrounds of YouTube videos to explain the relationship between the visual culture of social media influencers and the political economy of manufacturing, logistics, and real estate.

More information about Grant can be found at

Teaching and Research Interests

  • Digital Culture
  • Media Archaeology
  • Materiality and Infrastructure
  • Critical and Cultural Theory
  • Affect and Emotion
  • Aesthetic Theory
  • Continental Philosophy (specifically, Poststructuralism, Phenomenology, Marxism, and Psychoanalysis)
  • Contemporary Art

Research Publications


Grant Bollmer. 2019. Materialist Media Theory: An Introduction. New York: Bloomsbury.

Grant Bollmer. 2018. Theorizing Digital Cultures. London: SAGE.

Grant Bollmer. 2016. Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection. New York: Bloomsbury.

Edited Volume

S. Yiğit Soncul and Grant Bollmer, eds. 2020. “Networked Liminality,” a special issue of parallax 26:1.

Journal Articles

Yiğit Soncul and Grant Bollmer. 2020. “Introduction: Networked Liminality,” parallax 26:1.

Grant Bollmer and Katherine Guinness. 2020. “Empathy and Nausea: Virtual Reality and Jordan Wolfson’s Real Violence,” Journal of Visual Culture 19:1, 28 – 46.

Grant Bollmer. 2019. “Networks Before the Internet,” Journal of Cinema and Media Studies 59:1, 142 – 148.

Grant Bollmer. 2019. “Books of Faces: Cultural Techniques of Basic Emotions,” NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies, Spring.

Grant Bollmer. 2019. “The Kinesthetic Index: Videogames and the Body of Motion Capture,” InVisible Culture 30.

Grant Bollmer and Katherine Guinness. 2018. “‘Do You Really Want to Live Forever?’ Animism, Death, and Digital Images,” Cultural Studies Review 24:2, 79 – 96.

Grant Bollmer. 2018. “The Feeling of Connection, or, Complex Narratives and the Aesthetics of Truth,” Frame: Journal of Literary Studies 31:2, 53 – 70.

Grant Bollmer. 2017. “Empathy Machines,” Media International Australia 165, 63 – 76.

Grant Bollmer and Katherine Guinness. 2017. “Phenomenology for the Selfie,” Cultural Politics 13:2.

Grant Bollmer. 2016. “Infrastructural Temporalities: Facebook and The Differential Time of Data Management,” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 30:1, 20 – 31.

Grant Bollmer. 2015. “Technological Materiality and Assumptions About ‘Active’ Human Agency,” Digital Culture & Society 1:1, 95 – 110.

Grant Bollmer. 2015. “Fragile Storage, Archival Futures,” Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 2:1, 66 – 72.

Katherine Guinness and Grant Bollmer. 2015. “Marina Abramović Doesn’t Feel Like You,” Feral Feminisms 3, 40 – 55.

Grant Bollmer. 2014. “Pathologies of Affect: The ‘New Wounded’ and the Politics of Ontology,” Cultural Studies 28:2, 298 – 326.

Grant Bollmer. 2013. “Millions Now Living Will Never Die: Cultural Anxieties About the Afterlife of Information,” The Information Society 29:3, 142 – 151.

Grant Bollmer. 2012. “Demanding Connectivity: The Performance of ‘True’ Identity and the Politics of Social Media,” JOMEC Journal 1, article 3.

Grant Bollmer. 2011. “Community as a Financial Network: Mortgages, Citizenship, and Connectivity,” Democratic Communiqué 24, 39 – 56.

Grant Bollmer. 2011. “Virtuality in Systems of Memory: Toward an Ontology of Collective Memory, Ritual, and the Technological,” Memory Studies 4:4, 450 – 464.

Book Chapters

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

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

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, ed. Aziz Douai and Eid Mohamed. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Grant Bollmer and Chris Rodley. 2017. “Scattered 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.

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.

Reviews and Review Essays

Grant Bollmer. 2018. A review of Philip Mirowski and Edward Nik-Khah’s The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: A History of Information in Modern EconomicsJournal of Cultural Economy 11:2, 169-172.

Grant Bollmer. 2017. A review of Stuart Cunningham, Terry Flew, and Adam Swift’s Media EconomicsCommunication Research and Practice 3:4, 386 – 388.

Grant Bollmer. 2014. “Big Data, Small Media” (Review of Polity’s Digital Media and Society Series), Cultural Studies Review 20:2, 266 – 277.

Grant Bollmer. 2013. A review of McKenzie Wark’s Telesthesia: Communication, Culture & ClassMedia International Australia 147, 177.

Grant Bollmer. 2010. “Review Essay: Not Understanding the Network? A Review of Four Contemporary Works” (Review of Phillip Armstrong’s Reticulations, Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks, Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker’s The Exploit, and Brian Rotman’s Becoming Beside Ourselves), The Communication Review 13:3, 243 – 260.

Encyclopedia Articles

Grant Bollmer. 2014. “Avatars” and “Second Life,” Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics, Kerric Harvey, editor. Los Angeles: SAGE, 96 – 98, 1114 – 1115.

Popular Writing

Grant Bollmer. 2020. “Culture and Anarchy, from Matthew Arnold to the Internet,” In Media Res, 13 February.

Grant Bollmer. 2019. “Emotion Detection and the Mimetic Faculty,” MediaCommons Field Guide, 8 April.

Grant Bollmer. 2019. “The Automation of Empathy,” esse: Arts and Opinions 95, Winter, 30 – 34.Published simultaneously in French as “L’automatisation de l’empathie,” translated by Margot Lacroix, 35 – 37.

Grant Bollmer. 2018. “Will Silicon Valley’s New Company Towns End Up as Failed Utopias?” The Conversation (US), 31 May.

Grant Bollmer. 2014. “Who is to Blame When iCloud is ‘Hacked’—You or Apple?” The Conversation (AU), 3 September.


B.A. History Wake Forest University 2004

M.A. Communication Wake Forest University 2006

Ph.D. Communication Studies (Media and Cultural Studies) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2011