Jim Paradis – Reflections on the Cultural History of Surveillance

By in Lectures on May 4, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015 at 6:00 pm to 7:45 pm

Jim Paradis, Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing and Comparative Media Studies, MIT; Visiting Researcher, The New School

Abstract: I will offer a broad exploration of some cultural origins of modern surveillance practice as revealed in nineteenth-century urban fiction, journalism, media technologies, and monitorial agencies and institutions.  An effort will be made to gain a general understanding of the cultural agency behind the surveillance economy in diverse practices of the time, practices embodied in changing relationships between real people in real contexts.  I will conclude with some observations on the uses of cultural history in design practice.


The Speaker

Bio: Jim Paradis is Professor of Comparative Media Studies/Writing at MIT, who studies nineteenth-century cultural history and communication history.   His interests include the rise of nineteenth-century professionalism, the spread of popular culture, and the history of media and communication.  His books and collections include T. H. Huxley: Man’s Place in Nature; Evolution and Ethics (with G. Williams); Textual Dynamics of the Professions (with C. Bazerman); and Victorian Science as Cultural Authority (with S. Anger). He teaches courses in the History of Media and Technology; Digital Humanities; and Workshop in Media Design; and is the PI  for the NEH-funded Annotation Studio web application.


  • Review some of the reviews, synopses, and other critical responses to Helen Nissenbaum’s Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009).
  • Jim’s “Surveillance in Cultural Context” film series


The Class Responds by Group Number (coming soon)

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