Jonathan Sterne

Professor, James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology

McGill University

Jonathan Sterne’s work is broadly concerned with the cultural dimensions of communication technologies, especially their form and role in large-scale societies.  One of his major ongoing projects has involved developing an adequate history and theory of sound in the modern west.  Beyond the work on sound and music, he has published over fifty articles and book chapters that cover a wide range of topics in media history, new media, cultural theory and disability studies.  He has also written on the politics of academic labor and maintains an interest in the future of the university.  His new projects consider instruments and instrumentalities; histories of signal processing; and the intersections of disability, technology and perception.  He continues to support emerging scholarship in sound studies.

As a researcher, he employs historiographic, philosophical and interpretive methods, and in more recent work, long-form interviews and participant observation. In addition to his books and articles, Sterne has published online since 1994, experimenting with multimodal and open access approaches, which are now gathered under the “digital humanities” umbrella. 

Sterne has held fellowships from the Mellon and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, the Smithsonian Institution, The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, and the University of Southern California. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard and New York Universities, and a visiting researcher in the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England.  His work has also been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds québécois de recherché sur la société et la culture, the Beaverbrook Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, and the Australian Research Council.  He has delivered over a hundred invited lectures and keynotes around the world.