Dr Grant Bollmer

Senior Lecturer in Digital Media

School of Communication and Arts
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
+61 7 334 68233


My research examines a wide range of issues related to what we might call 'digital culture'. I've researched and written about topics including, but not limited to, emotion recognition, selfies, memes, influencers, videogames, motion capture, virtual reality, and empathy. Regardless of my specific object, my research is motivated by three general, intersecting sets of questions.

  • First, how do people make sense of their own everyday lives under conditions where work and social life depend on perpetual technological connection and, consequentially, are also shaped by the demands of technological platforms under 'late capitalism'?
  • Second, how do the material dimensions of media--their physical capacities to transform relations in time and space, their capacities for writing, storing, and recalling information--shape perception, experience, and knowledge?
  • Third, and finally, how is our contemporary technological existence shaped by a broader context that links the history of technology with the histories of medicine, psychology, political economy, and aesthetic judgment?

I am the author or co-author of five published or forthcoming books. This includes: The Influencer Factory: A Marxist Theory of Corporate Personhood on YouTube (Stanford, 2024; co-authored with Katherine Guinness), an examination of ultra-rich influencer videos that argues influencer culture reveals a drive to 'vertically integrate' oneself and behave as if individuality can become interchangeable with the corporate form; The Affect Lab: The History and Limits of Measuring Emotion (Minnesota, 2023), a critique of 'affect theory' in the humanities and social sciences that makes its claims through key moments in the psychology of emotion and the technologies used to measure emotional experience; Materialist Media Theory: An Introduction (Bloomsbury, 2019), which 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; 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; and 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.

Additionally, with Yigit Soncul, I'm co-editor of a special issue of the journal parallax on 'Networked Liminality' (2020). With Yigit Soncul and Katherine Guinness, I'm co-editor of a Post45 cluster on 'Influencer Aesthetics' and the De Gruyter Handbook of Digital Cultures, both of which are forthcoming in the next few years.

Among other honours, I have 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 honourable mention for ‘Best Editorial Package’ from the Canadian National Magazine Awards/Les Prix du Magazine Canadien. In my previous position, at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was named an NC State University Faculty Scholar, was a recipient of the NC State CHASS Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in the Humanities, and was a recipient of the Robert M. Entman Award for Excellence in Communication Research.

Some of my current research examines questions of aesthetic judgement and 'bad' videogames, the use of generative AI in 'brain decoding' and visualizing human thought through fMRI technologies, and, with Katherine Guinness, a project on spaces beyond frames in the history of art and 'immersive' audiovisual media.

My full list of publications, which includes PDFs of many of my articles and book chapters, can be found at my personal website, https://grantbollmer.com

Research Interests

  • Digital Cultures
    Theoretical, historical, and aesthetic dimensions of digital media
  • Internet Studies
    'Weird' internet, internet infrastructures, the technical dimensions of platforms
  • History of Psychology
    Particularly media archaeological and epistemological critiques of psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience
  • Materialist Media Theory
    Intersections of Canadian media theory (McLuhan and Innis) and Marxist materialisms
  • Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy
    Especially Marxism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and poststructuralism
  • Histories of the Occult
    Especially intersections of the occult, critical theory, and the history of science and technology


  • Doctor of Philosophy of Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Masters (Research) of Communication Studies, Wake Forest University
  • Bachelor (Honours) of History, Wake Forest University


View all Publications



Book Chapter

  • Bollmer, Grant (2024). Absurd temporalities. Contemporary absurdities, existential crises, and visual art. (pp. 154-171) edited by Katherine Guinness and Charlotte Kent. Bristol, United Kingdom: Intellect Books.

  • Bollmer, Grant (2022). Counter-selfies and the real subsumption of society. Visual culture approaches to the selfie. (pp. 20-39) edited by Derek Conrad Murray. New York, NY USA: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780367206109-1

  • Abdel-Mageed, Dina and Bollmer, Grant (2022). E-sheikhs: How online Islamic discourse can reproduce authoritarian power structures. New Media Discourses, Culture and Politics after the Arab Spring. (pp. 83-102) London, United Kingdom: I.B. Tauris. doi: 10.5040/9780755640539.ch-5

  • Bollmer, Grant (2021). Mimetic sameness. Critical meme reader: global mutations of the viral image. (pp. 154-164) edited by Chloë Arkenbout, Jack Wilson and Daniel de Zeeuw. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Institute of Network Cultures. doi: 10.25969/mediarep/19281

  • Bollmer, Grant (2020). Facial obfuscation and bare life: politicizing dystopia in Black Mirror. The moral uncanny in Black Mirror. (pp. 99-119) edited by Margaret Gibson and Clarissa Carden. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-47495-9_6

  • Bollmer, Grant (2020). Selfies and dronies as relational political practices. The Routledge companion to mobile media art. (pp. 183-192) edited by Larissa Hjorth, Adriana de Souza e Silva and Klare Lanson. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780429242816-22

  • Bollmer, Grant (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. (pp. 18-30) Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

  • Bollmer, Grant (2018). Software Intimacies (Social Media and the Unbearability of Death). Digital Intimate Publics and Social Media. (pp. 45-58) edited by Dobson, AS, Robards, B and Carah, N. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-97607-5_3

  • Bollmer, Grant and Rodley, Chris (2016). Speculations on the sociality of socialbots. Socialbots and Their Friends: Digital Media and the Automation of Sociality. (pp. 147-163) New York, NY United States: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315637228

  • Bollmer, Grant David (2015). Technobiological traffic: Networks, bodies, and the management of vitality. Traffic: Media as Infrastructures and Cultural Practices. (pp. 117-135) Brill. doi: 10.1163/9789004298774_s007

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Bollmer, Grant and Guinness, Katherine (2023). Virtual reality for a burning world. RE:SOURCE – The 10th International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology, Venice, Italy, 13-16 September 2023.

Other Outputs