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Dr Grant Bollmer

Associate Professor

Picture of Dr Grant Bollmer


Grant Bollmer studies the history and theory of digital media. He is the author of two books, Inhuman Networks: Social Media and the Archaeology of Connection (Bloomsbury, 2016), which examines the history of connectivity in Western culture as it crosses the development of technological, biological, financial, and social networks, and Theorizing Digital Cultures (SAGE, 2018), which provides a model for the study of digital media that synthesizes British and German approaches to media and culture.

He is currently completing research for three different projects. The first focuses around the book Materialist Media Theory, which 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 second, Aesthetics of Empathy, is on the history of empathy and its emergence from German aesthetic theory in the late 1800s, and how this history persists in the contemprary aesthetics of social media, videogames, and virtual reality. The third, Digital Afterlives, is a collaboration with art historian Katherine Guinness that examines how a number of contemporary artists, including Cécile B. Evans, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ian Cheng, and Rachel Maclean, represent and critique issues of digital media, death, spirituality, and ecology.

Grant is also an Honorary Associate of the Digital Cultures Program of the Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney.

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



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. 2019. “Networked Liminality,” a special issue of parallax 25:4.

Journal Articles

Grant Bollmer. Forthcoming 2019. “Networks Before the Internet,” Journal of Cinema and Media Studies.

Grant Bollmer and S. Yiğit Soncul. Forthcoming 2019. “Networked Liminality,” parallax 25:4.

Grant Bollmer. Forthcoming. “Gaming Formalism and the Aesthetics of Empathy,” Leonardo Electronic Almanac.

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. Forthcoming. “From Immersion to Empathy: The Legacy of Einfühlung in Digital Art and Videogames,” for Shifting Presences: Media Art in the Early 21st Century, Hava Aldouby, ed. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

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 Economics, Journal of Cultural Economy 11:2, 169-172.

Grant Bollmer. 2017. A review of Stuart Cunningham, Terry Flew, and Adam Swift’s Media Economics, Communication 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 & Class, Media 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. 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. 


  • Ph.D. in Communication Studies (Media and Cultural Studies) from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011
  • MA in Communication from Wake Forest University, 2006
  • BA in History from Wake Forest University, 2004