Jonathan Sterne is Professor and James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University.  He is author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke 2012), The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Duke, 2003); and numerous articles on media, technologies and the politics of culture.  He is also editor of The Sound Studies Reader (Routledge, 2012) and co-editor of The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age (Minnesota, 2016).  His new projects consider instruments and instrumentalities; mail by cruise missile; and the intersections of disability, technology and perception. Visit his website at http://sterneworks.org .

Other Publications

The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Duke, 2003).

MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke, 2012).


The Sound Studies Reader (Routledge, 2012)


Darin Barney, Gabriella Coleman, Christine Ross, Jonathan Sterne, Tamar Tembeck, eds., The Participatory Condition in the Digital Age (Minnesota, 2016).

Essays: http://sterneworks.org/text/

Interviews: http://sterneworks.org/interviews/


Current projects:

Broadly speaking, right now I am working on instruments and instrumentalities, histories of signal processing, and theories of the body and its faculties in the wake of disability studies.

More specifically:

with Mara Mills, a co-authored book tentatively titled The Speed of Sound, an episodic history of time-stretching and pitch-shifting from blind phonograph hackers in the 1930s to Auto-Tune and Ableton Live.

with Elena Razlogova, an essay on automated music mastering.

Diminished Faculties: A Phenomenology of Impairment

I am starting to poke around in critical studies of artificial intelligence.

Maybe 2017-18 will be the year I finish that essay on an attempt to deliver mail by cruise missile in the 1950s.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

Fall 2017, I am in residence at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.  Talks are always listed here: http://sterneworks.org/


SCMS.  Founding member of Association of Internet Researchers but I’m lapsed.  Founding member of the European Sound Studies Association. I also sometimes go to American Studies, International Communication Association, and Canadian Association for Cultural Studies.  But I’m more likely to be at a smaller, thematic conference.

Jonathan Sterne

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