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James J. Hodge

Associate Professor of English and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities; Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of English

Ph.D. University of Chicago


James J. Hodge (he/him/his, Ph.D. University of Chicago) specializes in digital media aesthetics at the intersections of cinema, art history, and literary studies, especially experimental media art genres such as new media art, avant-garde film, and electronic literature. Focusing also on media and critical theory he has special interests in phenomenology and psychoanalysis (object relations). He holds core appointments in English and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, and he is affiliate faculty in Art History and Screen Cultures. He received his M.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and B.A. from Oberlin College. Before arriving at Northwestern in 2013 he was a Postdoctoral Associate at Duke University.

His research is devoted to the broad question of how artistic forms express the incoherence of lived experience. His first book Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art (Minnesota, 2019) argues that animation becomes crucial for understanding the ways in which history changes in the digital age. His current book project, "Gifts of Ubiquity: The Aesthetics of Always-On Computing" examines a range of experimental and popular digital artworks in their capacity to express the felt dynamics of always-on computing: from anxiety and sociability to productivity and vulnerability. This and other recent work attend to the explosion of new networked genres such as supercuts, selfies, and animated GIFs, and theorizes them as aesthetic strategies of provisional attunement to the vicissitudes of the historical present.

Hodge regularly collaborates across programs at Northwestern. For a second consecutive year he is the co-organizer of a summer institute on the topic of "Media Aesthetics" with Prof. Dilip Gaonkar from the program in Rhetoric and Public Culture and the Center for Global Culture and Communication. In 2018 he co-curated an exhibition of artist and activist Paul Chan's video Happiness (finally) after 35,000 years of civilization at the Block Museum with Michael Metzger. In 2016-17 he co-organized a research seminar entitled "Ordinary Media" with Daniel Snelson (now at UCLA).

In fall 2020 Hodge will teach two undergraduate courses: a first-year seminar entitled "Hitchcock and Beyond" and a seminar on "The Cinema of Always-On Computing." In winter 2021 he will teach a doctoral seminar called "GIFs, Selfies, Memes: New Networked Genres." He will also offer a section of the same course for the Master of Liberal Studies program.

An interview on his digital pedagogy can be read here.

Areas of Research and Teaching

Digital Media Studies; Digital Aesthetics; Media Theory and History; Film Theory and History; Literary and Critical Theory


Literary Theory, Film & Film Theory, Science & Literature, Digital Media


Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art
Sensations of History: Animation and New Media Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2019)

Forthcoming Publications

  • "Vernaculars: The Always-On Image"
  • "Screwed: Anxiety and the Digital Ends of Anticipation"

Selected Publications

  • "The Subject of Always-On Computing: Thomas Ogden's 'Autistic-Contiguous Position' and the Animated GIF," Parallax 26:1 (2020): 65–75.
  • "New Maps, New Poetics: New Works by Akihiko Miyoshi," Circuit Gallery, Toronto, September 2019.
  • "Touch," with C. A. Davis and John Bresland (video essay, 20 minutes), Triquarterly (December 3, 2018). watch the video
  • “Suffering the Modernist Legacy of Husserlian Phenomenology," Criticism 59:1 (Winter 2018): 155-160.
  • “Earth-Specific Art: Phenomenology and the Digital Cinema of Peter Bo Rappmund,” ASAP/Journal 2:3 (2017): 579–601.
  • "Digital Psycho: Dedramatizing the Historical Event," Critical Inquiry 43:4 (Summer 2017): 839–860.
  • "Sociable Media: Phatic Connection in Digital Art," Postmodern Culture 26:1 (September 2016): NP.
  • "Gifts of Ubiquity," Film Criticism 39:2 (Winter 2014-15): 53-78.
  • "New Media Art" (with Jacob Gaboury), Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies, ed. Krin Gabbard. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).
  • "Impersonal Love? Contemporary Art and Atmospheric Media," More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing Since the 1990s, ed. Claire Schneider (Chapel Hill, NC: Ackland Art Museum, 2013).
  • "'I'm Looking for a New Way to be with You': On the Lisps' Futurity: A Musical," HowlRound: A Journal of the Theater Commons (July, 2012).

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