Jonathan Sterne

Professor and James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology

On research leave until August 2019

Fields of interest: sound studies; media theory and historiography; science and technology studies; new media; disability studies; music; cultural studies.

Website: (visit for up-to-date publications, CV, courses, etc.)

Jonathan Sterne’s work is 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 the 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.

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.

As a graduate teacher, Sterne supports student work in all his areas of interest, and is especially interested in supporting politicized scholarship.

Sterne has held fellowships from the Mellon and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, the Smithsonian Institution; and at 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.

MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke University Press, 2012)
The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Duke University Press, 2003)

The Politics of Academic Labor in Communication Studies (Annenberg Press, 2013)
The Sound Studies Reader (Routledge, 2012)

Other affiliations:
Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music, Media and Technology
Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
History and Philosophy of Science
Centre for Media History (Concordia University)
Centre de recherché sur l’intermédialité (Université de Montréal)
Centre for Critical Studies in Improvisation