I am a political and cultural historian, and my research focuses on two primary topics: the political economy of news and journalism, and the consideration of “new media” in historical perspective. My explorations of these subjects have resulted in published scholarship on the materiality of media, the relationship between radio sound and printed text in the 1930s, media reform campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s, the intellectual history of communication theory, and religious broadcasting on radio and television.
While my training and previous research is in United States history, my two ongoing major projects are international and comparative in scope. My current book project is a history of the twentieth-century daily newspaper as a product of industrial capitalism. With the support of a Canadian Embassy Faculty Research Grant, I have completed major research for the book, and I began drafting the manuscript in the 2012-2013 academic year while serving as the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Public Policy at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada in Montreal. Tentatively titled Dead Tree Media: The Industrial Newspaper in the Twentieth Century, the book connects two histories of the past one hundred years: the evolution of the American metropolitan newspaper as the product of industrial capitalist manufacturing, and the creation of the trade policies undergirding the modern global economy. The project balances a global history of newsprint production with a specific narrative focus on the Chicago Tribune, which began Canadian papermaking operations after 1913 when the United States government lifted the duty on newsprint produced in Canada. Favorable tariff policy gave the Tribune Company access to cheap newsprint, which helped the Tribune to become one of the most influential daily newspapers in the United States, and it also allowed the parent company to establish the New York Daily News, which became the highest circulating newspaper in the country. The duty free American importation of newsprint in turn spurred the development of one of Canada’s most important industries and transformed the global market for newsprint. This analysis will offer a new approach to journalism history and the study of North American relations, and it is based on original archival research in United States and Canadian sources, including a significant collection opened to researchers for the first time in 2011.
My other ongoing project is an essay on the political economy of news production and distribution in Great Britain and the United States from 1920-1945 for an edited collection under contract with Oxford University Press.
I teach a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses on post-Reconstruction United States history, as well as more specialized courses on media and journalism history.