“As modern ideas of communication as transmission emerged, so too did the belief in emotions as forces within the body. Brenton Malin’s Feeling Mediated chronicles these intertwined histories. Malin’s book juxtaposes the idea of media physicalism—that media have direct effects on audiences’ emotions—alongside the history of ‘American cool’ as a desired emotional state, constantly under threat from too-hot media. Feeling Mediated not only contributes to the growing cross-fertilization of media studies and affect theory, it also provides a new account of why, for the last two centuries, each generation has made the same claims for the emotional power of emerging media.”
—Jonathan Sterne, author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format and The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction
“An engaging work on emotion-inducing and sensing technologies, the concerns surrounding them, and their uptake within the early- to mid-20th century scientific community. Replete with fascinating gems that reveal our preoccupation with emotionality and its relationship to communication technologies, Feeling Mediated is a compelling foray not only into the history of media but also that of media studies.”
—Ted Striphas, Indiana University
New technologies, whether text message or telegraph, inevitably raise questions about emotion. New forms of communication bring with them both fear and hope, on one hand allowing us deeper emotional connections and the ability to forge global communities, while on the other prompting anxieties about isolation and over-stimulation. Feeling Mediated: A History of Media Technology and Emotion in America investigates the larger context of such concerns, considering both how media technologies intersect with our emotional lives and how our ideas about these intersections influence how we think about and experience emotion and technology themselves.
Drawing on extensive archival research, Brenton J. Malin explores the historical roots of much of our recent understanding of mediated feelings, showing how earlier ideas about the telegraph, phonograph, radio, motion pictures, and other once-new technologies continue to inform our contemporary thinking. With insightful analysis, Feeling Mediated explores a series of fascinating arguments about technology and emotion that became especially heated during the early 20th century. These debates, which carried forward and transformed earlier discussions of technology and emotion, culminated in a set of ideas that became institutionalized in the structures of American media production, advertising, social research, and policy, leaving a lasting impact on our everyday lives.