Professor of Communications
Professor Miller's teaching and research mainly concern new media and political culture. He has a long interest in media technology, including laws and policies relating to freedom of expression across various media. Recently, he has been contributing to the development of mediatization theory with a focus on emerging digital media, exploring near-term future trends of increasingly intelligent environments characterized by dispersed media. This has led him to historical research on the automobile as a case study of the mediatization of space, from user-installed AM radios to autonomous vehicles. His earliest new media research concerned the internet predecessor videotex, known in France as Minitel. Miller's involvement in radio (he worked in FM during his student days and twice served on an NPR-affiliate board) includes international comparative studies of community radio and study of the commercialization of French national radio.
Miller is interested in the changing experience of citizenship, which is increasingly more popular-cultural than overtly political. He also studies the use of culture in international relations as an exercise of soft power. And he has analyzed critically a form of Western foreign aid known as media assistance, which exports U.S. journalistic norms and practices as part of the "democratizing" process in post-communist, post-conflict, and post-colonial societies. He has also written about mainstream American journalism as an example of cultural modernism.
Miller’s published work has appeared in such major journals as Media, Culture and Society; Journal of Communication; European Journal of Communication; Global Media and Communication; Mobile Media and Communication; Association for Computing Machinery; and Nieman Reports as well as in edited volumes, and has been translated into French, Spanish, Russian and Turkish. Miller chaired an annual international conference on telecommunications policy research, and edited its proceedings, published by Elsevier.
His research has been supported by the Canadian government, the Whiting Foundation, and IREX, among others. He has been a short-term fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a Fulbright researcher in Paris.
Miller is a member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, the European Communication Research and Education Association, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Society for Social Studies of Science. He has been visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab and at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is a member of the graduate faculty of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
In this course, we will read books from several genres about media, including history, biography, popular critiques and classic empirical studies. We will also read literature that helps approach each genre - on the nature of historiography when reading a volume of media history, for example. Students will choose the readings for much of the second half of term. Our aim is to discover the wide variety of writing about media while learning to read such a text closely and critically. Students will lead discussions, write short responses to the books and a final essay.
In this advanced seminar, we will explore the location, use and changing nature of media in places like houses, automobiles, airports, schools and stores. Some of this investigation will be historical - say, where and how the radio was used in 1930s homes - and some will focus on the present day, when media are increasingly mobile, personal and infrastructural. Students will specialize in media in a particular place and conduct a semester-long study of that site. Our investigations will take a variety of forms, drawing on students' larger interests and experience. Each student will develop and present a portfolio that records and presents their research.
Every society offers public rituals, formal instruction and places of sacred memory whose purpose is to foster a common political identity like nationalism and citizenship. Some of these devices appear natural and timeless; others are obviously invented. Some exist in peaceful periods; others are meant to galvanize people for warfare. One important example of political culture is the presidential election campaign, which will be happening for much of this term, and will be our focus of study. Students will lead reading discussions, write an essay and complete a final project that includes a group presentation and an individual paper.
Does form determine content? For example, perhaps semantic structures of language have the effect of shaping the possible narratives of story telling. Or, aspects of a medium's technology may set the parameters of the cultural forms of expression that are distinctive to that medium. In both cases, there is something implicit in the means of communication that determines how it can be used - and in ways that might not be obvious to the language speaker/ writer or media producer/user. This course will explore these speculations from the perspectives of linguistics and media studies.