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.
Soft power refers to forms of international relations that are not militaristic or otherwise coercive - or "hard." The usual means of soft power are cultural ones, including what is called public diplomacy. Nation-states increasingly brand themselves (the Danes are the happiest people on earth), foster exportable experience economies (EuroDisney), and produce globally circulating news (Voice of America). National regions, corporations, religions and NGOs all engage in similar behavior. The goal is a kind of impression management, creating favorable public opinion abroad toward a way of life, a product or a geographic place. These activities, which blur the private and public sectors, raise important questions about propaganda, cultural imperialism and other issues that are often difficult to untangle from strictly economic and geo-political matters. Students will lead the discussion of readings, write a couple of brief essays and present a final project.
Drivers began installing radios in their cars in the early 1920s. Today, cars are called "rolling computers." In between, more numerous and more sophisticated media were steadily designed into the automobile, making it a uniquely mobile zone of media consumption as well as being a principal means of modern, private travel. In this tutorial, we will address two questions: What can we say about the long history of media in cars, and so what? That is, what does this history tell us about other aspects of life and about the emerging mobile-media future, especially autonomous vehicles? Students will have various responsibilities, not least the development of a semester-long project that addresses some aspect of our two questions.
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.